Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Festivities at Qwanoes - The Fall Season Comes to a Close

Hello everyone! The last couple weeks at Qwanoes have been an amazing time of hard work and Christmas celebrations. The students just left today on their Christmas break and we have many stories to share from our last moments together in our fall season of the Kaleo program. We wrote to you in our last post just as the lectures for Gospels with Wes Olmsted were finishing. The days that followed the students were all busy prepping essay outlines for their final exam and studying hard with all the content they had to memorize. They really came together working as a team and helping each other study and review the immense amounts of material they had to review. Just before the weekend we went to the famous Ladysmith light up together. It was a fun night with a parade and fireworks!

Some of the students stopping for a picture waiting for the parade to start.

Andrew MacDonald with his super cute daughter Aubrey!
Andrew and his wife Jenn also have another girl on the way expecting her very early in the new year. 

The evening after their final exam there was an optional viewing of The Passion of the Christ, a film by Mel Gibson. The gospel message and graphic imagery struck deep for the students who had just spent so much time studying the life and ministry of Jesus. Although its painful to watch, it served as a helpful reminder in the Christmas season of what Jesus mission coming to this earth was, showing just a glimpse of the price he paid to reconcile us to Himself. 

The following was our big Christmas prep day. We spent the morning making our own creative decorations and listening to christmas carols. It was fun to see each student put their own flair and personality into their decorations. We then had our last Qwanoes community lunch of the fall—the staff-student relationships that have been forming over the semester have become a integral part of the students experience here at Qwanoes. 

Sharon and Stephanie making ornaments out of dough!

Later in the afternoon we packed up in vans and headed to a tree farm to pick out our very own tree! 

This is a slightly hectic task with 23 students, but after carefully inspecting many candidates they managed to settle on a beautiful tree! We took turns cutting it down and then brought our prize tree back to camp. 

We then proceeded to paint and decorate our ornaments that had been in the oven while we were away. We strung the lights and put our ornaments on the tree while drinking hot chocolate and enjoying each others company. Setting up a tree is usually something done with ones family in their own home. For most this was the first time they have ever put up a christmas tree with a majority of people they had only met 3 months previous! As a guest in the room you would have never guessed that most of these students didn't know each other just months previous—a huge testament to the family God has been developing here in the program. 

The next night after a day of paper writing we had an amazing Christmas banquet enjoying a turkey dinner and awesome desserts! After the banquet we had our annual talent show! These sort of things can always be a toss up, going into it many were not sure what to expect only aware of what they personally had put effort into preparing. Its safe to say everyone who attended that night was blown away by the amazing different pieces staff and students had put together; there was beautiful singing pieces, parody songs written by the students, skits, movies and comedy acts! (there was even a presentation on blue whales!) It was amazing what the talented group was able to pull off given the busy season of academics they were in. A new standard has been set for the Kaléo program talent show.

A photo of the students and Aubrey at the Christmas banquet!

After a day of paper writing we spent an evening hanging out separately as guys and girls doing our own activies. The ladies had a surprise cooking contest. They had to compete against each other with the ingredients they were given and make do with some interesting surprise ingredients as well! It was incredible what some of them were able to pull off with ingredients like goat cheese and hot peppers. 

A few of the different groups working together in the contest.

The guys played some games in the afternoon and then spent the evening on Mt. Prevost to watch the sunset. The guys finished off the evening with an awesome meal in the town and a game of Laser tag in the dark across the camp property.

Yesterday we closed off our season together with a Kaléo Christmas morning and mug exchange around our beautifully decorated tree! Each student had brought a mug that represented themselves and we played a fun game unwrapping the mugs,and stealing them from each other in a typical gift exchange fashion. After an awesome morning the rest of the day was spent putting in the last finishing touches of their final assignment for Gospels. The last assignment, can you believe it! They worked so hard right to the very end and I speak on behalf of the leadership team in regards to how proud we are of all of them. 

It was hard to say goodbyes today but excitement was still high as everyone was looking forward to spending time with their families back home. We have been blessed with such an amazing season so far—it is crazy to think that this chapter has already come to a close. God has been doing some incredible work in the lives of his disciples here and it has been an amazing blessing to see his handy work happening right in front of us. We are expecting the big things God has in store for our next season together. We hope you all have an amazing Christmas and may you encounter our incarnated Lord with your friends and family in this season of celebration. 

Until next time,


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Foundations of Church Ministry - And Exploring Caves Deep in the Earth

Hello Everyone! The last two weeks have been very full and our students have been hard at work in some challenging academics. After our week of prayer came to a close we dove straight into Foundations of Church Ministry course with David Ernst. 

Here is one of the panel discussions where a few pastors from the local churches came and shared first hand
what it is like to serve in full-time church ministry. 
The class went well and the students throughout the week were putting a tone of work into their research papers for the course. There was 5 topics that they all had to chose from to write their papers on, and would do their research together in groups. They had the opportunity to present some of their findings to the class and took part in lots of discussions.

Durring the week of classes Nicole Pauls a program graduate who was helping as an faculty assistant for David Ernst set up a Skype call between this years students and some previous graduates of the program currently studying at Briercrest. It was really cool to see the dynamic from these to separate yet still connected groups of people. Although communication was a little challenging the students got to ask questions and advice from the ones who have gone before them—It w as a pretty special moment.

2014 Students on a Skype call with previous Graduates of the program

The weekend after the course a few of the students were serving in the Sr. High retreat at camp. Even though they just finished a tough week of studies there was smiles all around, and it was a huge blessing to see our students serving with full hearts.

Dayna is slowly building an impressive reputation for her dedication and consistent smiles helping to run
the camp coffee bar called the 'Coco Hut.'

Dawson helping to belay at the breath taker.

Smiles all around.

Some of the students who were not helping serve on the retreat got to try some of the fun for themselves during
a break from writing papers!

Sarah helping belay at the Qwanoes Climbing tower!
The week after the retreat the students had lots to do in their studies. They had an exam, a research paper, and a book to complete amongst other things during the week. They are right in the middle of the busiest academic time of the year and it is encouraging to see all the hard work that students are putting into their studies.

At the end of the week we took off on an adventure to the famous caves of Horne Lake. It was such a blessing to get out and enjoy such a unique aspect of God's creation. This was a new experience for most and we all found ways to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. The formations and rock surfaces in the caves are incredible and its amazing how beautiful these caves can be. While we don't have many pictures due to the water and dampness, I can assure you everyone had a great time and good memories were made.

Stephanie pauls standing on a ledge in the first cave we visited. 
A picture from Sarah R, of her with Cara and Kyla!

The students are back at another course as the atmosphere around camp definitely is gearing up for Christmas. They are currently finishing up lectures from the last course of the semester called Gospels. Its crazy to think that this season is already coming to a close! I will have more stories to share from the class room soon! 

Until next time, 


Monday, November 25, 2013

Mt. Albert Edward - A Look Back

I am excited to share a video highlight from one of our adventures at the beginning of the year!

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into what one of our adventures was like. The Gospels course just kicked off today with Wes Olmsted and later this week we will be sharing pictures and stories from a few retreats that have been happening!

Until next time,


Thursday, November 14, 2013

WildPlay Adventure and a Week in Prayer

There has been a lot of academics and paper writing these past weeks. The students have been working hard and putting in a lots of hours studying, reading, and writing. After the students finished their papers and final exam for Old Testament Literature we spent time away from the books on another adventure. We headed out to WildPlay in Naniamo which has a fantastic high ropes course!  

It was an absolute blast! It was great for the students to get out and just hangout with each other doing something fun. The high ropes course is a set of challenging linked elements progressively getting higher up in the trees. There are zip lines, nets, swings, and every type of bridge to cross you could imagine. 

Chris and his co-counselor Nic at a Camp Qwanoes DQ invasion during Junior High Retreat.
The following day after WildPlay we kicked off another fall retreat with Junior High campers! This was a jam packed weekend where lots of the students got opportunities to counsel and lead activities.

Katherine and Cara with a few of their campers

Paul and Kyla presenting the winning "Champion" buttons!

Riley with one of his campers from the weekend.

Cara and one of the volunteer staff who came in to help with the retreat. 

The following week after Junior High retreat we kicked off our Week of Prayer! We had a room specifically set up in the lodge where prayer was occurring almost 24/7 the entire week. It was a really special time and a common theme was students wished their time in the room didn't have to come to end. There was a prayer journal, paper with art supplies and other ways the students could interact and respond with where God was leading their time in prayer.  The dedication of the students was great; waking up all hours of the night to trade off with someone in the prayer room.

Durring the Week of Prayer students had papers and books they were finishing for Foundations of Church Ministry. Associate Director of Apologetics Canada John Morrison also came in this week to teach a few workshops on how to grow as a leader. Highlighting characteristics and lifestyles of highly effective leaders and helping the students explore what it means to lead practically in their own lives.

We also had an night filled with costumes, candy, and scavenger hunts! Lots of fun times together as a group fully embracing all of our 'uniqueness'. 

Foundations of Church Ministry just came to a close and we are now looking towards another busy couple of weeks. Please keep us in your prayers here at camp, God is doing incredible things in the lives of the students, growing and shaping them as they immerse themselves in scripture and academics, and community!

Until next time, 


Friday, November 8, 2013

Old Testament Video - Brought to you by the students of 2014!

Well we teased you about it last week, and here it is. This years Old Testament video put together by the hard work of the students. You can see pictures of the screening and a word from your directors in the previous post. Enjoy!

Until next time,

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Old Testament Theology - Exploring depth in familiar stories

Hey everyone!

Well if there was any doubt about it before, that doubt is now gone and replaced with an assurance that fall is officially here. The weather lately has been a mixture of eery-fog and the occasional sunny day in between. The leaves are now scattered on the ground and the surrounding trees are starting to look pretty bare. Along with the weather change there has come a shift towards some of the more challenging academic courses of the semester, and so far the students are rising to the challenge.

The course they just completed is Old Testament Literature taught by Professor Don Taylor. This course explores the whole Old Testament and seeks to help students gain a strong foundation and deeper understanding of the biblical narrative. There is a lot of material covered in this course and hearing the students talk at meal times about all they were learning was really encouraging. 

Don Taylor teaching about Old Testament architecture and the temple. 

Here are some words from Don Taylor himself about taking this course in the Kaléo Program. “Setting aside a week to focus entirely in the OT allows the students to draw near to the faithful covenant keeping God of Scripture. It provides an opportunity to explore the deep and important background for appreciating the message and themes of the NT. Studying in this community allows for a space to ask the hard questions and explore the contours of the OT that so often get passed over.” 

One of the major benefits to taking the Kaléo Program is being able to have an oceanside view as your class room. The students definitely appreciated Don's teaching style as he has frequently employed breaks and trips outside to make sure their minds were staying sharp.

One of the big projects they have been working on together as a class is called the Old Testament Video. The goal is to recreate the important highlights of the OT and capture it on video. Three directors were picked from the group and everyone had to work together to pull this project off. It was fascinating watching camp across the week turned into a movie set of all different sorts. Every minute of free time the students had they could be found in costume acting out a story or editing away on their computers. 

On the last day of classes all the staff at camp were invited to the premier and we gathered around to watch all the students hard work. This is a highlight for a lot of the staff as its always a joy to see the way students take on the creative challenge. You get to see a new side of a lot of the students and there was no shortage of laughs on this debut premiere. 

Meet your directors! Kelsey P, Chris, and Sharon!
Don Taylor was really impressed by the work put in by the students, and a comment might have been made about it being one of the best projects he has seen put together so far. 

“Being able to direct the movie was a great experience because you got to see everyones gifts come out and us all working together creatively to get the job done.” - Chris Williams one or three directors. 

Not your ordinary group of directors, but hollywood better keep an eye out for these three.
Stay tuned next week to here stories about the students experiences in retreats and our time at Wildplay! We will also hopefully be having a copy of the film on the internet for you to view soon as well. This next week we are beginning a solid period of continuous prayer for the entire week. Please keep us in your prayers as well, be asking God to be speaking individually to the students as we devote time to listening and responding to God in prayer.

Until next time,


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Surfing in Tofino - West Coast Wave Riding

Trees rolling by, climbing elevation, stunning mountain lakes, epic scenery and winding rolling roads; this surely isn't your typical trip to the local surf spot. It is for us though on this adventure - our drive was nothing short of scenic as we made way in three vans cross island to the largest surfing destination in Canada. Students just finished the first portion of lectures with Sid Koop for Camp and Youth Ministry and were anxious after another good time in the classroom to get outside and make use of the sunny weather. 

Taking pictures inside of trees that towered over our heads at Cathedral Grove.
On our trip we stopped at a few unique tourist sites along the way. One of them being Cathedral Grove an amazing old growth forest sight with trees towering hundreds of feet above us. It surely had an incredible capacity to make us feel really small amongst these giants of trees.  

We arrived the first evening and spent some time exploring Tofino and the famous long beach. During our trip we had the privilege to stay at a church in Uculet which was a fantastic experience, the church had a wonderful 'home-like' feel and we had a great time hanging out and playing games together. You could see even from the previous sailing trip how much closer and comfortable everyone has come as a group; we had such a blast being with each other. 

Looking out over the vast ocean enjoying time reflecting on God's goodness
We spent time at rocky beach in Uculet the first morning, Andrew shared more about our theme together this year. Our theme is Stirred and being near the ocean with all the kinetic energy and force behind each wave was an excellent example of what being stirred up looks like, and how each wave was moved by a force that was greater than itself. We then continued on after lunch to Cox Bay where we met our surf instructors and got on our wetsuits for the first time. Some were more successful with their first attempts than others, there was even one or two wetsuits that ended up on backwards at first.

Enthusiastic to-be surfers in their wetsuits ready to hit the waves
Before we attempted entering the ocean our surf instructor Eddy taught us about the various currents and dangers we could face while out in the water. He explained specifically what to look for at the beach we were at, but also equipped us with some basic knowledge to take to any other beaches we might end up at in the future. After teaching us about tides and currents Eddy taught us some basic surf theory and how to approach riding waves with a board.

Our instructor Eddy showing us proper technique for the 'pop-up'
We then stormed the water and had our own go at something that seemed so simple in movies. Some surprised by the difficulty at first, our group rose to the challenge and gave it everything they had. Across the board everyone went out in the water and did an excellent job.

We had an incredible two days of surfing with optimal conditions for this time of year. One of the instructors Ally said he hadn't seen waves this nice here in over 2 months - it truly was a blessing to get such good conditions on both of our days out. Everyone learned and progressed so quickly, it was encouraging to see everyone having so much fun together and trying over and over again to improve. Instead of hearing more from me, as I already have a biased of loving surfing myself, I thought it would be fun to hear from some of the students and what they thought of their first experience. 

"The trip to Tofino was an awesome opportunity for growth in a new adventure environment! As a first time surfer, I was initially a little skeptical about getting out on the waves, but after the first afternoon, I was pretty much sold on the idea of selling all of my material possession and moving to Tofino for the rest of my life. The trip was a great chance for us to relax and hang out together at the beaches, in the vans, and back at the church; I loved having the time to get to know everyone a little better. It was so cool to be able to enjoy the glory of God in such spectacular surroundings; everything from the crazy Tofino surf to the huge first-growth trees at Cathedral grove spoke of the power and majesty of our Creator!" 

We had a blast together in another ocean themed adventure. Its safe to say many of the students have caught the surfing bug and are definitely eager to try it again. They just finished their lectures for Old Testament Literature with Don Taylor which was another exciting course. They completed a whole 45 minute film during the past 2 weeks as well for one of their assignments. We will be sharing that and many other stories from the classroom next week thursday. For now there are more photos that didn't make it into the gallery available at http://bit.ly/Kaleo2014photos.

Untill next time,

Nic shooting some film for their Old Testament Video project.