Monday, August 12, 2013

FRC Camp Weekend

Located not too far away from the spot where Jumbo the circus elephant was tragically hit by a train is Pierce Williams Camp, the annual home of the Free Reformed camp.  After traversing the mind-numbing south-western stretch of the 401, the soon to be campers began arriving from all over the world (actually just Ontario, New Jersey and Holland).  A ribbon of used car-lot colourful flags and a sign that unceremoniously stated “Free Reformed Churches” welcomed all of the new arrivals.  A long laneway through the pristine lawns of the camp led to a small parking lot that was soon packed with every make and model from bubble gum coloured compacts to mud splattered pick-ups.  Just beyond the car park was the registration table which was manned by a smiling Kim and Jan, the fearless camp leaders.
All photos in this post are from Kenneth Kranendonk
This was the 49th FRC camp weekend and we were filled to capacity with 160 campers and around 20 counsellors.  The Word and Deed team were installed in the kitchen and were busily preparing meals for the next three days.  The temperature hovered comfortably in the low twenties while the weather remained dry and bright.

The camp speaker was Rev. Bergsma from the Fenwick Free Reformed Church and our camp pastor was Pastor Overduin from Vineland Free Reformed Church.  “Spiritual Gifts” was the theme.

The excitement was palpable as campers reunited and caught up.  Lodging was tight this year and campers bunked down in the cabins, long house, and even some covered wagons (greenhouses on wheels).  The sport aficionados quickly took over the beach volleyball court and were soon kicking up the sand.  A large contingent of “Dutchies” were also at camp and got a game of soccer going.

The blast of Kim’s whistle sent everybody swarming to Pierce Hall for our first speech (thankfully some campers made a detour for some deodorant).  Ryan Postma kicked things off with our first ever FRC camp anthem.  In no time, all of the campers were singing along, stomping their feet, and waving their hands.  Counsellor Erik Vandyk and Kayla Postma led the singing which was hearty and heartfelt.  Rev. Bergsma ‘pulled some weeds’ in his speech on radical charismatics as he illustrated that spiritual gifts have divine parameters and cannot be dictated by man.  Following the speech and questions, we were all acquainted with our groups.  A campfire wrapped the whole evening up and everybody was in bed by three in the morning.

Saturday morning came all too quickly.  I awoke to the sunlight streaming through the window and the aching of my hips from my mattress that was about half an inch thick and only five feet long.  I jumped/crashed down from the top bunk to the floor and went outside.  It was just after seven in the morning and there was only a few people up.  I plopped myself down in a zero-gravity chair and waited for the camp to come to life.  It was getting close to eight when campers started stumbling out of their cabins.  I quite enjoyed watching the sleep deprived campers walk out of the darkened cabins into the bright and blinding morning sun.  Some had confused looks on their faces as they wondered where they were and why they were so tired.  Breakfast was at eight sharp and the sumptuous smell of sausage, eggs and coffee wafted out to those waiting outside the mess hall.  Alison Hoek and Rachel Vandyk thought that two minutes would be enough time to get ready for breakfast and slept in till 7:58.  

Breakfast began promptly and was served with an efficiency that would impress the military.  After stomachs were satisfied and copious amount of caffeine were consumed, instructions for the day were given.

A morning of sports had been planned out and my group was determined to dominate the day.   Unfortunately, the other groups had the same aim in mind.  We lost most of our games though we played with fierce determination and heart.  I don’t think the long house has ever witnessed such an impassioned game of toilet brush hockey.  We almost needed a Zamboni to clean the sweat off the floor.

A delicious lunch of fresh St. Thomas sausages were grilled and perfectly hit the spot after an intense morning of competition.  We split into small groups for prayer time after downing the sausages.  My group thought it would be nice to have our little prayer meeting in one of the covered wagons.  We all crammed into one of the little covered wagons and had a time of fellowship and fervent prayer.  Unfortunately it started getting a little warm in the covered wagon.  I know have a new respect for Laura Ingalls.  

Free time in the afternoon meant more sports for the campers and nap-time for many of the counsellors.  Jeff and Sandy Postma did a stellar job throughout the weekend at keeping everyone hydrated and topped up with snacks and food.

The second speech on Saturday evening began and focussed on who has spiritual gifts and how spiritual gifts are different from abilities and talents.  A great discussion and time of questions followed the speech.  After some pizza, we all settled down to some singing.  The singing throughout the weekend was heartfelt and full – especially on Saturday night.  The song ‘10,000 Reasons’ (or Bless the Lord) became a new camp favourite (sorry ‘Love Jive’).

No Saturday night at camp would be complete with what has become a camp tradition - a gigantic pillow fight.  Pillows of all shapes and sizes sliced through the cool night air and delivered their payloads in opposing faces.  Some campers mobilized behind mattresses and mowed down anyone in their path.  The only casualty seemed to be a goose down filled pillow that exploded and spewed feathers everywhere.  After all was said and done, it looked like a flock of geese was massacred.

Sunday flew by with two sermons, sermon discussions and a third speech at night.  The discussions and prayer time were engaging and thought provoking.  The camp choir got together for a last practice and Rev. Bergsma chimed in with his panflute and harmonica (who knew?).  The visitors began arriving after a sumptuous turkey dinner (yes you read that right – this was not your ordinary ‘camp slop’) and mingled with the campers and counsellors.  By midnight the visitors were gone and a large contingent of campers broke out into a water fight.  Many wisely stayed away from the front lines and enjoyed some singing around the piano.

Before we knew it, the last scheduled event of the weekend was upon us – kangaroo court.  I was the judge, Scott was the defence lawyer, and Mike the prosecutor.  Ally and Becky were the muscles and filled the role of bailiff.  Jake was a bailiff/emcee of sorts and kept the cases moving.  It was a fun night with a surprise appearance by Rev. Schouls who was impersonating a Middle Eastern Sheik/Dutch oma of some sort.  Court was adjourned at around two in the morning – justice had been served.

No curfew meant that many campers would watch the sunrise while sitting around a roaring fire.  Voluminous amounts of hotdogs, chips and pop (a healthy triumvirate if ever there was one) were consumed and helped fuel many hopes of keeping sleep at bay.  Campers began trickling back to their bunks as the night wore on though there was surprising number that were in it for the long haul.  At five in the morning, I raised a white flag and left for my luxurious bunk bed with the half inch thick mattress (certainly not memory foam – foam was but a memory for this mattress).

Two hours later, my alarm went off and I got up for breakfast.  My mind was inert and mushy – the aroma of fresh coffee stirred my senses and led me to the mess hall where I found Kim, the camp leader in crisis.  His whistle, which he used to summon the campers for mealtimes, had lost the little ball.  The whistle was worn out and had no more screeches left.  While trying to fix his whistle, Kim’s left lens fell out of his glasses.  Kim was thrown into a state of confusion.  

Somehow the campers made it to the mess hall on time, although about half of the campers decided to sleep through breakfast.  Watching the campers walk through the mess hall doors made me reconsider my belief about zombies.  Unblinking, mouths open, expressionless, and incoherent – they stumbled through the doorway and found a seat.  Only a carafe of coffee would be able to cajole the campers out of their comatosis.  

Breakfast seemed to do the trick and brought some life back into the sleepy camp.  The dreaded clean-up followed breakfast (no small feat) and campers threw themselves into cleaning toilets, picking up garbage, sweeping out cabins and packing up their cars.  After the cars were packed, it was time for ‘goodbyes’ and ‘see you next year’.  Another camp weekend had flashed by.

It had been a weekend of fellowship, praise, and fun.  Callings were examined, our talents and gifts were inventoried and challenged, and God was given glory for His majestic creation and His supernal dealings with us.  The song 10,000 Reasons really struck a chord over the weekend and drove home the point that we serve a gracious God.

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

Camp 2014 is going to be the 50th year of Free Reformed Camp.  Be sure to watch for the sign-up in the spring – it’s going to be an epic camp weekend and will fill up fast.  We’ll be looking back to the first camp held out on a cow pasture and may even get to hear from some survivors.


  1. sounds like a lot of fun! that's my daughter's favourite song!

  2. It sounds like great camp time. I like the song 10,000 reasons, too.