Parallel to the growth of camp work in the 11 – 16 age group was the beginning of the Day Camps programme in 1979. This was the vision of John Newton and run initially by Brett Cane, who brought together the elements of the programme which sources can be traced to children’s and youth ministry operated by Quebec Lodge, Scripture Union, and Inter-School Christian Fellowship. In this programme a centrally trained team of five to eight young adults would visit a parish for one week and work with local helpers. Children in the 4 – 12 age group were involved in a five-day programme running from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
The first year, the programme involved 400 children in twelve parishes in the Diocese of Montreal. In 1981, Charles Morris served as director and there were 25 Day Camps which involved 1,500 children. That summer, Grant Lemarquand served in the office and in November, Melody Morris was brought in as office secretary/administrator for the following twelve months; she was followed by Freda Prosser. In preparation for the 1982 season, Vina Sweetman took over as director. This year the team was better equipped by a training retreat in the Laurentians. In addition to the team members an estimated 100 people worked behind the scenes for this venture. In the following year, 1983, there were 42 parishes in Montreal and Eastern Canada participating in Day Camps and involving over 2,000 children ministered to by 69 team members in ten teams. Fifteen members came from the United Kingdom, 39 from Montreal and 11 from Nova Scotia. By 1985, 3,000 children participated in 49 different parishes.
An excerpt from the 1983 annual report by Vina Sweetman on Day Camps adds to the above picture:
‘Each team consisted of 6 – 8 people, who spent a week in each parish leading the day camp. Evenings were times of fellowship and fun, as the team, local helpers who assisted each day, and the host families who provided board and lodging, got to know one another. Because each parish had to provide families to give board and lodging for volunteers, many more people were brought into involvement in the day camp project.
‘Each day’s theme is presented in the form of songs, crafts, drama, filmstrip, games, devotions and special events. An integral part of the programme is Lamb, a puppet that at times acts as M.C. and at other times causes mischief and tells jokes.’
Children from a wide range of backgrounds attend the day camps, and therefore the programme was created to meet the needs of them all. Some children just need their faith nurtured, while others need the stories presented in a new and fresh way. Still others come with friends who have no connection with the church at all. Each year, approximately 10% of those attending make Jesus their ‘Special Friend’ for the first time. Many parishes have reported a significant increase in Sunday School registration due to the efforts of the Day Camps.
In each parish local helpers assist the team each day, and in this way another object of the programme is achieved: training local leadership to work amongst children. Many songs and new approaches to devotion are learned, in hope that they will be useful in Sunday Schools and youth groups during the winter months. The Day Camp chairperson in each parish is responsible for ‘looking after administrative requirements, such as getting the required supplies, advertising, serving refreshments, and recruiting local helpers and host families.
As part of the recruiting for the Day Camp teams, in the early 80s, Brett Cane continued to travel to England on holiday and visited 5 or 6 teacher training or Theological Colleges. Through these visits, between 10 and 20 able young adults from Britain gave leadership to the Day Camp work in Montreal each year during that period and, although numbers have since decreased, continue to do so today. Many who serve on Day Camp Traveling teams are also involved either as campers or staff at the residential camps. In the first twenty years of operation, Day Camps served parishes in eight dioceses from Nova Scotia to Manitoba, involving about 22,000 children registered in the programme.
Meanwhile, the Youth Camp continued at the Quebec Lodge site until 1979. In 1980, it was decided to move the camp from Quebec Lodge due to the need for a larger campsite and because of other difficulties, and Pine Valley Camp near Ste. Agathe was rented. Focus had already moved to Cedar Lodge the year before. By this time, numbers at Youth Camp had grown to 80 to 100 and many counselors had been through the camp as campers – including some who became clergy.
In the following year the camp divided into Junior and Senior Camps since it was felt that a younger camp for 11 – 14 year olds needed to be established as a follow-up to and bridge between Day Camps and Youth Camps. The first Junior Youth Camp was held at Pine Valley with Senior Camp in 1981.
Each year up to half the campers would return to camp and by 1982, there were 286 campers and staff on the same site. In the same year the staff training was greatly improved with a pre-camp training weekend and also through a counselor-in-training programme begun at the Senior Camp.
Because of the increase in numbers and a desire to develop a separate ‘ethos’ for the younger camp, in 1983 it was decided to hold Junior Camp at another site. The Lord provided Camp Carowanis at the other end of Lake Didi from Senior Camp for the 90 campers and staff that year. At the same time, it was felt that the age range at Junior Camp was too broad, and so Senior Camp was opened up to campers a year younger. Junior Camp was then designated to be for those who had finished grades 5 or 6 or equivalent, and Senior camp for those in high school, roughly ages 13 to 17. Meanwhile, the Senior Camp divided into A and B sections, attracting a total of 250 campers and staff in that year.
An excerpt from the annual report by Brett Cane on the 1982 camps shows a little more of what was happening in people’s lives at the camps:
These pictures are merely an outward indication of the tremendous work of God that was going on in so many lives. Campers responded in large numbers to the call of God to commit or re-commit their lives to Christ. The two speakers, Arthur Sheffield and Michael Pountney, speaking on Christ’s Life and Ours and Images of the Christian Life, with superb dramatic presentations, were much used by God along with the workshops and the mission speakers – Bernard and Helen Kariuki from Kenya and Alan Taylor from Nicaragua. Small group sessions led by campers were re-instated with much success.
The fun theme this year was ‘An Inter-galactic meeting of the planets’, and led to such events as an ‘Intergalactic Fair’ and the wide game ‘The Wrath of Khan.’ The weather was cold, but did not dampen any spirits!
In 1984, the Get-A-Way Weekends developed out of the Focus Weekend, providing a weekend of teaching and renewal under the leadership of Bruce Glencross (once or twice a year) for those in the 25 – 35 age group some of whom had come up through Youth Camp and Focus. This ministry continued for some two to three years.
Follow-up to camp has always been a concern and Christian ‘outreach days’ at the Cathedral led to mid-year weekend reunions for Senior Camp from 1979, held first at Quebec Lodge, then in the mid-1980s at Camp Kinkora, just down the road from Pine Valley. After a few years of inactivity, Winter Weekend was re-established in the mid 90s.
Yet another follow-up ministry emerged in 1982 out of the Youth Camps. This was the monthly Crossroads Youth Service, that originally met at the Church of the Ascension and then moved to St. George’s in 1983. For the first four years, Crossroads was led by Michael Pountney. He had led a similar event sponsored by the Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship in Vancouver, meeting at St. John’s Church, Shaugnessy, where Harry Robinson was Rector. In the first year attendance ranged between 106 and 158. In the second year, up to 250 people gathered monthly. In the third and fourth years approximately 400 young people (and some adults) came out for the opening meetings. Although numbers have dropped to under a hundred in the late 90s, the quality of worship and music has developed tremendously. Lighthouse, for those in the age bracket of Junior Camp, was begun as a follow-up for them in 1996 and alternates locations between St. Paul’s, Greenfield Park, and Christ Church, Beaurepaire, and its first director is Karen Rye and, like Crossroads, has a superb musical team. Both services come together for a joint Christmas event.
In 1997, Crosstalk Ministries, which predated the national Anglican evangelical association, Barnabas Anglican Ministries, tied up some loose organizational ends and became the official local expression of BAM. It now elects the Montreal representative to the BAM board from among its own board members (now comprised of the directors of each ministry plus a President, Director of Finance, and a Director of Communications). Bruce Glencross was the first chosen in this way, succeeding Keith Joyce, who preceded Bruce as chair of Tuesday Fellowship.