Camp cancellation leads to fun stay-at-home activities for children

Pine Lake Camp Staff
by robin124

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time in over 100 years, The Salvation Army has announced the cancellation of summer camps across Canada. This has been disappointing for families, staff members and volunteers but the ones feeling it the most are the kids. The cancellation of summer camps this year have ministry units creating alternatives to help kids get the summer they hoped for.

Pine Lake Camp is a getaway from everyday stresses for these children and The Salvation Army understands that most years this may be the only vacation these children will get to take. In light of COVID-19, it has been extremely important to give the kids something close to the summer they had hoped for.

The staff members from Pine Lake camp have been hosting virtual campfires where kids are able to sing, dance and watch as camp leaders perform skits and give words of encouragement through Bible devotionals. The fun doesn’t stop there as virtual scavenger hunts and t-shirt drawing contests allow children to participate from home.

As Edmonton Castledowns Community Ministries Coordinator, Dayna Curtis has been making daily phone calls to their food bank clients and seniors, but also to the youth who were involved in weekly programs such as piano lessons, choir and block parties.

“Castledowns church was a home for many of them each week and we had built some great relationships,” Curtis said. “It is our desire to see these relationships continue and flourish once we’re able to get back to regular programming.”

In the next few weeks, Edmonton Castledowns will put together an “Ice Cream Drive-Thru” event as another initiative to stay connected.

In late March, Crossroads Community Church started planning alternatives to reach out to the families they had been working with throughout the year. It decided to send out Activity Bags to help the children and youth keep busy as school was cut short.

“Our first Activity Bag was sent out just before Easter, so we used that as our theme,” Major Karen Hoeft said. “We have sent out Activity Bags every three weeks. We have highlighted Mother’s Day, Spring Theme, Gardening theme, Canada Day, Camp in a Bag and Family Camp at Home.”

Camp in a Bag

These are some of the items that you might find in your Camp in a Bag.

A total of seven different types of Activity Bags have been handed out to over 150 children and youth in over 60 households with a total of 640 Activity bags. The final activity bag will have a Back to School theme.

At Calgary Glenmore Temple, porch drop off’s have been a way for this ministry unit to stay connected with families.

“It was a simple way to say hi to the kids and remind them that we were thinking of them at the church,” said Alicia McLeod, Director of Children & Youth Ministries at Calgary Glenmore Temple.

Items delivered to each child was based on their grade. Those who were in grade 6 and under were receiving items such as activity sheets, crayons, bubbles and sidewalk chalk as the older kids were receiving chocolate bars, carnival-type prizes and foldable frisbees.

“Each bag was slightly different based upon what we had, as well as ages, allergies, and number of kids per household who were getting the bags,” McLeod said.

In June, Calgary Glenmore Temple offered virtual junior and senior Bible study, Ready to Serve, and youth group. Children have received letters in the mail and are given the opportunity to participate in virtual crafts over zoom with their families.

Family fun will continue as The Salvation Army Edmonton Castledowns hosts a Facebook LIVE worship service that is available each Sunday. This encourages children to participate by sending pictures of themselves dancing during worship.

The Salvation Army is committed to continuing to offer camp alternatives this summer to children and keep them connected with their friends, camp leaders and community, even in the midst of COVID-19.