God of Adventure

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA pastor recently asked: ‘Where in the Bible do you find camping culture mentioned?’   Well, I’m glad he asked because I’ve been reading an excellent book by Bruce Dunning called ‘God of Adventure’ which establishes the biblical validity of ‘Christian Adventure Learning’, arguing a case that liminality (conscious awareness) and adventure learning combine to be one of God’s principle tools to connect with his people, challenge them, and have them participate in his redemptive purpose for his creation.

The book takes the reader through more than one hundred biblical examples of adventure learning and camping.  For example:

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In his important book “The Tangible Kingdom” Hugh Halter writes “if you go to Africa and hang out in a village of starving children you’ll get a heart for starving children.  If you hang out with the mentally ill, you’ll get a heart for the emotionally imbalanced.  If you want an authentic heart for people outside the church … you’ve got to be with them.  As they grab your heart, your posture will change, your angle of approach will change, and the Kingdom of God will be a little more tangible”.

About eighteen months ago we launched an overarching theme for our QCCC sites.  Known as R1202 (Romans 12:2) it’s a bright, colourful hand that is now a visual presence at each site.  The attributes in R1202 are drawn directly from the Beatitudes and it has multi-layering so that the interplay of colour, fingers (and thumbs) and words create up to sixty memorable object lessons that we can refer to, depending on the age and demographic of groups we’re working with

At QCCC we get to hang out with more than 50,000 people each year, with huge variation in age, needs and desires.  It means we have a heart for people coming away from their everyday hum drum, it gives us a heart of service to make sure they have a wonderful time away, and a heart to see their time with us spent well.  Often we don’t have a lot of time with people, but we’re just a small link in the chain of the Holy Spirit’s work and prompting in their life which started long before they come to us and will go on long past.

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Galilee, Ontario

Trying to keep warm in a Canadian summer!

“Communitas takes community to the next level and allows the whole of the community to share a common experience.  It’s an intense community spirit, the feeling of great social equality, solidarity, and togetherness.”

“Liminality is a state of being on the “threshold” of or between two different existential planes.”

Earlier this year I toured three Provinces of Canada on a Christian Venues Association study tour.  I was one of seven of the tour participants fortunate to be taken on an overnight canoe expedition to Red Cedar Lake in central Ontario with the Director from Camp Norland.  Most of our tour group had not met prior to arrival in Canada so when we left for our canoe trip we were still very much in the formative group stages, even down to remembering each others’ names.

We may have only been away for less than forty-eight hours, but by the time we returned our group had experienced a powerful transformation driven by communitas and liminality, so much so that it was obvious to the remainder of the tour group.  Eventually this side-trip became a driving force behind our entire group breaking down the social barriers and getting to know each other on much deeper levels than might have been thought possible in a two-week period.

Our canoe expedition saw us paddling ten kilometers on the first day on a gorgeous and secluded lake, breaking for lunch and then soon after arriving at our camp site for the night.  We arrived at 2.30pm and with Canadian summer sunsets taking place at 10.30 or later I admit I thought it was a lot of time to be spending on an isolated spit of land in the middle of a lake, complete with bear whistles to combat the dangers of the local wild life. 

In the end it was this very lack of busyness and schedule that “made” the trip.  We set-up, we explored, we swam and then we sat and talked.  Around a smoky fire we joked about the day and then shared about our lives.  This morphed into a time of spontaneous group reflection on the Psalms and further deep sharing.  We ate royally and the hours flicked by.

Sometime deep in the evening it occurred to all of us that we’d experienced that afternoon something resembling a significant portion of Jesus’ ministry years, and the type of relationship and discipleship that must have been the mark of His time with His disciples. 

We’d short hopped across a body of water similar to Galilee to get away from the crowds, and then enjoyed unhurried time for sharing, reflection and teaching.  And it contained power, as though the divine nestled heavily around us amidst a very humble camp site in the deep wilds of a Canadian summer.

This extraordinary, yet very ordinary experience reminded me yet again about what it is we seek to achieve in our camping and expeditions programs here at QCCC.  As another Canadian camp Director puts it, our role is “to create the space that allows God to do His work”. 

One of the most powerful tools in our arsenal is the creation of time away from the everyday where reflection is encouraged, perspective is sharpened, relationships are actively encouraged, time is available over meals and the divine gets to work without the clutter of the everyday. 

If it’s been a while since you participated in a camp program, or went on a frontier expedition, you’re missing out on a lot.

Reflections on Canada

The Columbia Ice Fields

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and my blogging has suffered because of it.  But I’m sure the writing juices will return soon, stimulated by the great content I’ve been devouring and digesting.

But just to keep things here from gathering cobwebs, I’ll start to share some of my reflections after my recent trip to Canada!

Mainland Canada has 600,000 lakes and one-third of the world’s fresh water supply.  It’s little wonder that their summer camping programs revolve around water!

I’ve just come back from a whistle-stop tour of 25 Canadian camping ministries, a tour organized by the Christian Venues Association and containing 26 camp directors from Australia and New Zealand.  We whizzed through three Provinces and saw a huge variety of Christian sites, ranging from the giant Muskoka Woods Sports Camp to small Menonite Bible camps with 10 year olds blazing away on .308s and shotguns!

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Wisdom from Canada

On a bus, going somewhere

One of the best outcomes from my recent study trip to Canada was the opportunity to tour with 25 other Australian and New Zealand camp Directors to a place where we met up with close to 30 camp Directors from Canada. I’ve been writing up my report and reflections from the trip, and in the process being reminded of some of the pithy quotes from Canadian Directors that I wrote down.

Here’s a selection for reflection.

“What you celebrate and reward gets done.”

“We’re responsible around here. We let the younger kids shoot the .22, we don’t let them have a .308 or shotgun until they’re aged 10.”

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