by Mackenzie Clark – since 2008
Recently I had a conversation with my father (who grew up attending summer camp himself) about the volume of God’s voice at camp. For many years I had known that his strong faith in the Lord was established primarily during his summers at camp, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that it had been one specific experience that had affirmed the presence of God in his life. For many years I have considered Camp Big Canoe to be a particularly spiritual place, however it was this conversation with my father that helped me to realize that I, too, could recall a specific experience where for the first time, I was sure that God was with me.
My first summer at camp was in 2008. I was 12 years old and joining the camp community somewhat late in the game. It was love at first campfire and immediately I knew that this place would become a significant part of my life. On the final full day of fourth session (TSTL) my counselor, Anna Ney (who turned out to be my counselor AGAIN the next year- lucky me!) woke my tent-mates and I up at 5:45am. Somewhat groggily we made our way down to the lake, picking up generous lifeguards who had volunteered to help with our morning mission on the way. In canoes, we paddled out through the mist into the centre of Hart Lake and waited. I’d never seen a sunrise before but the beauty I had imagined did not even compare to the masterpiece that formed in front of my eyes that morning. As the songs of birds got louder, the mist dissipated and the golden sphere of light came over the wall of trees, I was amazed at the simultaneous complexity and simplicity of the Earth’s every day cycle. That so much light and sound could emerge out of deep darkness and silence was such a miracle to my 12-year old eyes. I remember the exact thought that crossed my mind: there HAS to be a God out there. This summer will be my 10th summer since I fell in love with Big Canoe and not a session goes by where the beauty of God’s creation does not take my breath away.
I realize that camp means different things to different people, and by no means do I expect that everyone will find a sense of faith in the lake and in the trees like I did. I do believe, however, that camp helps us to discover some of the most important pillars of our lives. For me, it was my relationship with God, but for others it can be so many different things. Sometimes I wonder about what my tent-mates discovered about themselves that morning as we watched the sunrise in silence.
Part of what I love about this series of stories that commemorate our 50th anniversary is that it allows me to glimpse into the discoveries made at camp by other people. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share mine.