A national Bible camp director of over 30 camps across Canada is continuing to put his faith in God for the coming summer.
Bill McCaskell is the National Director with One Hope Canada. The national ministry has 35 camps from coast to coast, as well as six community ministries and four travelling day camps.
"During this time it's not just camp that has some uncertainty around what that's going to look like. But for our camp directors, they have been using all of their creative perseverance to continue to prepare for this summer," says McCaskell.
Last year the five Bible Camps that are under One Hope Canada in Manitoba, only offered day camps due to the pandemic. It looks like this second summer could be much of the same for campers.
"The Manitoba Camping Association that represents all of the children's camps in Manitoba, they have been working very hard with the government and the health regulations that are being set, that even overnight camping would be permitted. But right now we're just trusting God that day camp ministry would happen."
Other provinces in Canada may actually have a more normal summer camp experience.
"Health regulations are set provincially and some provinces overnight camp is just beginning to be announced to go ahead. Ontario just announced it yesterday and Quebec had announced it last week."
While this is great news for campers in those provinces, it means more work for the staff.
"It still creates a challenge for our camp directors because they need to now, in a short matter of time, bring in the personnel, provide volunteers or cabin leaders. There a lot of planning that typically takes months for summer ministry to happen that now has to happen over a few weeks."
On May 30, One Hope Canada is hosting a virtual Day of Prayer for Camp. This is their third annual.
"We've teamed up with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and other Christian camp associations across Canada to invite churches across the country to set aside the last Sunday in May to pray for camp ministry."
McCaskell says that many of the kids that come to camp and get thrown into a new routine help open up their hearts to the love of God, many for the first time.
"We believe the ministry is so important and we can't do it without God's people uplifting us in prayer."
McCaskell has seen God move in camp ministry even though day camp attendance last year was way down than in previous years.
"As a mission, we would normally see close to 19,000 children come through our ministries across Canada. Last year we saw around the 4,000 mark. Early on God gave us a verse from Zechariah, 'Do not despise the day of small things,' and realizing that the 4,000 lives that came heard a life-changing message of hope, of what Jesus has done for them."
By only offering day camps, the ministry may have seen a new demographic they wouldn't have otherwise.
"Some children were coming to day camp who would never come to overnight camp because that was too scary an endeavour for them. They heard about Jesus, they placed their faith in Jesus, and then they got involved with the local youth group."
The director has seen his own faith grow over the past year since the pandemic started.
"God is not limited by the type of method we've always been doing ministry with. God can use anything and He can move in any situation, including a pandemic. We saw that last year and we're trusting God again for this summer," he says.