Willow Park Ark sails south

A unique summer youth outreach is starting its second decade at a new lake. The experience is called “The Ark,” and got its name from the early years when Willow Park Church in Kelowna used a Shuswap Lake houseboat. Willow Park youth are encouraged to invite an unchurched friend to come along for a week on the water – and it’s a ministry that produces results. This summer, thanks to the availability of property at Osoyoos, the party moves south – to Osoyoos Lake, just north of the B.C.-Washington border.

Joel Feddersen, the youth pastor who initiated the waterborne camping experience in 2000, is “still doing it.” Numbers are larger than in the early days. They now use a number of boats to cruise by day, then camp on shore each night. For the leaders, “it’s intense,” he says. Each cruise cycle lasts
five days.

It’s not just lake cruising or personal invitations to unchurched young people that makes The Ark unique: it’s the continuity of friendships that form during the week. “It’s completely evangelism,” Feddersen says. “All of the leaders are part of our youth group – leaders who stay on in that role when summer is over.” So unchurched friends, now acquainted with new friends and leaders from Willow Park, feel at home with them when autumn comes and remain with the group. Normally, about 50 new kids start attending the youth group each autumn.

Ten years in, the normal complement of participants each week is about 50 campers and 30 leaders. This year’s program runs from July 6–August 21. For pictures and details on the program, visit the youth website at www.kahoots.ca.

—Barrie McMaster

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