Grand Forks, B.C.
In August 2014, Pines Bible Camp executive director Gene Krahn saw a growing impasse in the B.C. teachers’ strike and bounced an idea off his staff: could Pines offer camping right through September, and even October if needed? At the time, he was looking at a camp budget that was severely impacted by that same strike; most of the facility rental income Pines usually receives from school field trips had vaporized.
The decision was made to go ahead with it, if staff could be found, and the scramble began. Krahn says registration started slowly because many parents believed it unthinkable for the strike to continue past Labour Day.
But by the middle of that first week, 28 students were in the program, about half of them on an overnight basis.
Krahn’s wife Vicky, a qualified teacher, oversees an educational component for three age groups each morning, and afternoons are devoted to normal camp activities under the leadership of summertime counsellors. Kitchen volunteers have been drafted from as far away as Abbotsford.
It’s a post-season camp that Krahn terms “a little bit different.”
At Stillwood Camp and Conference Centre near Chilliwack, B.C., a similar decision was made to offer day activities for Grades 1–7 during the strike. Bus pick-up is available from several locations in Abbotsford and Chilliwack.
Average daily attendance runs around 50 children, some just attending for a couple of days a week, but in all, more than 180 students are registered.
Gardom Lake Bible Camp, near Enderby, B.C., had problems finding enough staff to start right after Labour Day, but is to be up and running Sept. 8, 2014, with a modest list of attenders.
Many churches have stepped up to offer care for children as well, but activity varies from community to community depending upon the number of programs offered by local recreation boards and other groups.
For the camps, leaders see a chance to minister and perhaps to make new friends for next summer. “It’s a little bit different,” said Krahn, “but definitely worth doing.”
—Barrie McMaster, B.C. correspondent