Thursday, September 26, 2013

First Retreat Experience - Learning through Service

It has been an amazing week here on the island with fantastic weather almost every day. This past weekend was the Students first opportunity to help run activities at Qwanoes for a retreat. Trinity Western University brought over its student leaders to Qwanoes to experience all that Camp has to offer, and it was a fantastic first opportunity for Qwanoes Students to get involved. 

Students forming a welcome tunnel showing Trinity what a Qwanoes welcome is all about!
There is always time for a quick photo! Smiles all around as the retreat is kicked off.

Putting all the training into practice this last weekend at TWU retreat.
 The students got to help run activities in the challenge course, waterfront, and many other aspects of camp. It was a unique experience for them being able to serve young adults and see first hand what Camp Activities are like to run. As we move into the fall the students will get to be involved lots of other Qwanoes retreats, which provides lots of opportunities to practically apply what they have been learning in the classroom.

Heather and Sarah belaying in the Challenge Course!

Riley showing us how to through a rope properly to the Qwanoes dock. 
To close off the weekend Students and staff got to enjoy the Qwanoes waterfront with activities like boating and the giant Blob. It was great to just hangout with each other and enjoy the company of some good friends. The community is really starting to shape and take a vibrant life as students are realizing the potential this year has in store.

The students are currently in the midst of Spiritual Formations, and at the moment are experiencing a solo time of reflection with 24 hours of silence and solitude. This class is an awesome way to begin the year--students spend a lot of time reflecting and learning about their own spiritual journey and what it means to deepen and grow in their faith. Discovering what discipleship is all about and how everything they are taking part in this year is all an outflow of a desire to follow Jesus. Stay tuned this weekend for more updates from this course, and what the students had to say about it. 

Until next time, 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mount Albert Edward - The Year Kicks Off!

Hey Everyone! My name is Levi and I am a Qwanoes intern this year with a focus in the Kaléo Program. I have the incredible opportunity to fill you in with stories, photos, and updates week-by-week of what’s happening in the life of the Students!

It has been a packed week and a half, and the program is already off to an amazing start. Students are getting into the swing of things here at Camp with various orientations and training— lots of time getting acquainted with the ins-and-outs of their new home for the next 8 months. It’s so fantastic to have them all together and join the family here at Qwanoes. The staff has been prayerfully anticipating their arrival for some time now and couldn’t wait to meet them. The LinQ program was launched and students got to meet and pray with a staff member they were paired up with. This is an awesome opportunity for students to have intentional relationships with a staff member during their time here.

The ministry component of the program also got underway as pastors from our local partnered churches eagerly came to meet the students. The ministry component is a huge opportunity for the students this year, they will get countless opportunities to directly apply what they are learning in the classroom to where they are serving in their Church. They are in groups of 3-4 and will have many opportunities to grow as active participants in areas like worship teams, leading youth group, and children’s ministry.

One of the things they also accomplished is training to be a qualified belayer in the Qwanoes challenge course. It was so cool to watch the dynamic of the group start to form as they worked and trained together on how to belay one another. Helping each other learn and grow, and just enjoying each others company as they get to know who they are spending the next 8 months with.  

On Monday with much excitement and anticipation we set out as a group to tackle our first out trip together. This trip is a stunning backpacking trip through Strathcona Park to summit Mount Albert Edward, one of the largest peaks on Vancouver Island. Our trip was spread out across 3 days with over 34 kilometers of hiking in total. We began the first day hiking from the parking lot in four smaller groups to reach the lakes we would be camping at that night. The rain was coming down as we started hiking but moral was high as students were actively connecting with each other in these smaller groups. Two of the groups spent the night at Kwai lake, and the other two groups over at Circlet lake, planning to all meet together on Tuesday morning to summit the mountain.

Warming cold hands after a day of hiking in the rain

For the summiting portion of our trip we are able to leave our heavier back packs at camp and begin the ascent with only daypacks. We all appreciated the lighter load, and would need the extra energy to tackle together the task ahead of us. This is the most challenging portion of our trip and we had to all work together to keep on going. After gaining some serious elevation it became very obvious how glad we were to be relieved of our larger packs. Throughout the hike during breaks Andrew the Kaléo Program Leader was able to use tangible metaphors and stories to explain things about God’s truth what it means to be a Disciple. The understanding of Gods grace can deepen on a hiking trip as we realize God taking the weight of sin from our lives is similar to removing the heavy load we didn’t need to carry to the summit. This makes the adventures so much more than just a fun trip as a group, but rather countless opportunities to attach powerful memories to life lessons the students will take with themselves for years.

Some portions of the hike to the summit seemed to be almost straight up

Stunning views to be had the whole way up

Our second day had started with clear skies but as we approached the summit and took a break for lunch the fog had started to move in. We always want to be as safe as possible, carefully considering if it was good to make our last push to the top. This type of weather could cause reduced visibility and hinder our ability to follow the trail. Thankfully after watching the weather the clouds stayed at bay and created a sort of bowl and wall of clouds around the mountain as we proceeded to hike the final stretch. Everyone dug deep and encouraged each other for the grueling final stretch. Every single person of our party made it to the top and it was an exhilarating time of celebration and high-fives all around.

The fog starting to move in on our trek to the top. 

Big celebrations at the top! Everyone made it!
Taking time to remember these powerful mountain top experiences together

After a short rest at the top we proceeded to finish the careful hike down the steep terrain. It was thankfully only till after we made it safely to the first lake that the rain started to come down. 

The Kaléo 2014 Girls!

The Kaléo 2014 Men!

The Peak of Albert Edward pointing up through the clouds, this is the view from the parking lot. 
The last morning we packed up our wet tents and gear and began the hike back to our vans. After reaching the parking lot it was incredible to view the peak of Mount Albert Edward in what seemed an impossibly distance away. It was incredible to have summited it just the day before and gave a new level of excitement to what God could accomplish in the students lives this year. It gave such powerful imagery of the immense things that can be accomplished when you put one foot in front of another, stick together as a community, keep pushing on, and trust God above all else with the results. The results of this trip were spectacular to say the least and the students enjoyed a deserved rest on the 3-hour drive back to camp.

The students have already begun academic work on the hiking trip in prep for their first class. They have been memorizing bible verses as an assignment for Spiritual Formations that begins on Tuesday. Now back at Camp they continue to memorize and have begun reading one of their first books.

Students reading their first book by the fire in Pacific Woods Lodge

Thank you all for your prayer and support, it is incredibly appreciated and we want to ask that you would continue keeping us in your prayers. It has been an unreal start to the year and God has brought together and amazing group of students. We look forward to what God is going to continue to do in and through each one. Stay tuned next week for an update on Spiritual Formations and pictures from the retreat this weekend the students had an opportunity to serve at.

Until next time,