Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Sending Kids to Summer Camp

Dear Editor,

What is courage and bravery and what do they have to do with faith? My wife and I recently took our granddaughter on an airplane tour for her ninth birthday and during this trip we discovered some interesting things about the current state of the mental health of our youth. Our granddaughter, like many of her peers, has unfounded fears. During our flight the capable young pilot reduced our airspeed and immediately the question “Why are we stopping?” came from the back seat, followed by, “I’m afraid, I want to go back down.”

So, why is it that our granddaughter knew exactly all of the reasons why she needed to be afraid and none of the reasons why she could trust the pilot, look outside her window, and marvel at the wonders the world has to offer? I believe fear existed for every generation of humans from the very beginning. What do I eat? What do I wear? Fear has the ability to produce good stress that motivates us to meet the challenges of life. It motivates us to work, to eat.

Somehow, COVID and its resulting isolation, and media driven fear mongering is producing an unhealthy environment that is crippling the hearts and minds of our youth. Are we teaching our children that they cannot even trust the very air they breathe even at 2,000 ft elevation in an airplane? Unfounded fears can, if you surrender to them, rob you of your joy and health.

In answer to the question about courage, bravery, and faith and how they are related together, let me put forward another story. A group of men at Olivet set out to find local school-aged children to send to day camp for free. It is my opinion that their bravery and courage allowed them to make progress in the face of fear, to do the right thing for the right reason. Faith, however, enabled them to see past the uncertainty that fear brings to perceive a hopeful future which includes children going to camp. In short, Olivet was able to provide busing and the $200 registration fee for 52 school-aged children from our community to attend Word of Life Camp in Woodford for one week each. I personally had the privilege of assisting the children on and off the bus for the four weeks that camp ran this summer. What a blessing to see the difference one week of camp makes in the life of a child!

For myself, some of my fondest memories centred around playing together, laughing together, even disagreeing together with others. I trust some will remember a time when it was expected that once your homework and chores were done you went outside to play until it was time to come in. Let’s not lose sight that play is a vital part of sound mental health and development for our young people, securing their well-being.

The story continues as these same men that made the decision to send children to camp also made a decision to restart the children and youth programs at Olivet this coming school year. I believe that bravery, courage and faith are vital ingredients to make certain progress in the face of fear and uncertainty. One last question to ponder: “Where did these men learn about courage, bravery, and faith and where can our children go to learn about them today?”

(Hint: Hebrews 11)


Bryan Gelyk, Meaford

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