STRONG & COURAGEOUS: General Session with Bryan Lorrits – Courage to Innovate

Being courageous in ministry has many implications. This morning, Fellowship Memphis Pastor Bryan Lorrits spoke on courage as it relates to innovation. So often at our camps, we get bogged down in doing things “the way they’ve always been done.” Is that true at your camp?

He began with Matthew 9:14-17

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

It all boils down to this: Jesus didn’t do things “the way they’ve always been done.” Jesus had the courage to innovate, and he would encourage us to do the same. Even in the face of many powerful naysayers, who would have his disciples believe otherwise. But we shouldn’t let the naysayers discourage us from making great, positive changes in our ministries. After all, Moses didn’t make it into the promised land because he allowed the naysayers to dictate his attitude.

So how about you? Do you have the courage to innovate? Are you exchanging the mantra, “charge the hill” with “keep the peace” in your ministry?

We hope you have the courage to dream big and innovate at your camp!

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STRONG & COURAGEOUS: Day Two Recap

Since yesterday was just a day of registration and settling in, today was the first official day of STRONG & COURAGEOUS, our National Conference in San Diego, California.

Today has been a whirlwind of greeting old friends, making some new ones, and diving into the conference! With Head Start Workshops running all day today, participants got the chance to squeeze in even more learning and networking.

The afternoon brought regional gatherings, but since there are only 75 Canadians in total here at the conference, we met all together. It was great to see some familiar faces, and meet some new people who are our brothers and sisters in the amazing ministry of Christian camping in Canada. At the gathering, we discussed our journey since 2010 — and there certainly have been a lot of changes to CCI/Canada since then. Between moving the National Office across the country to Alberta and a complete turnover of staff, we sure have had some challenges. But we are happy to report many successes: from simple things like never failing to deliver a quality e-newsletter on the first of every month to huge things like dramatically reducing our deficit. And we are so grateful to be here serving you all.

After the regional gatherings, everyone was treated to an amazing Mexican fiesta, complete with a real Mariachi band, dancers and amazing Mexican food. The outdoor courtyard was filled with lights, balloons, and the sounds of eight hundred camp professionals enjoying themselves!

The Mariachi band and dancers led everyone back into the main ballroom for a general session that began with CCCA President Gregg Hunter and CCI/Canada National Director Sharon Fraess bursting out of a pinata and pulling confetti from their mouths! After than spectacle, the session began with lively worship from Danny Oertli. Gregg Hunter gave the evening’s keynote speech, and was followed by a quick word from Sheri Rose Shepherd. In the end, the Mariachi band started up again and led us all to the Grand Exhibit Hall, which was jam-packed with excellent camp-centered exhibitors and home to our Member Services Area. Here at the Canadian booth, I’m giving away tote bags, sticky notes, luggage tags and Red Rose tea. And we’re serving Tim Hortons Coffee and poutine in the Exhibit Hall! Just doing what we can to make our Canadian camp members feel at home!

Tomorrow will bring so much opportunity for education. From all-day Institutes to Intensives and Electives, there is literally something for everyone. We’ll keep you posted on how everything goes!

STRONG & COURAGEOUS: Day One

Our National Conference, STRONG & COURAGEOUS is officially underway!

As I type this, I’m sitting behind the Registration & Information Desk in the Atlas Foyer of the beautiful Town and Country Resort Hotel in San Diego, California. The conference is a joint effort between CCI/Canada and our U.S. counterparts, the Christian Camp & Conference Association. It has been a pleasure to meet our Canadian members as they begin to register today. What a wonderful community we have!

This year’s conference theme comes from the first chapter of Joshua. Here’s verse nine:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

The command to “be strong and courageous” appears four times in this chapter. God truly desired to equip Joshua with the tools and courage necessary to accomplish great things — just as He wants to encourage you to face challenges within your camp ministry with the strength and courage of Joshua.

Just as God provided Joshua with what he needed to be a strong leader to bring God’s people into the promised land, He will give you what you need to lead your ministry. That’s why this conference is so jam-packed with educational opportunities. We’ve got conference-long workshops, two- to four-hour intensives, and traditional seminars with dozens of topics to choose from. There is so much to learn from some really excellent, well-informed instructors and speakers.

Today is just a registration day, but I will keep you all posted on the goings-on of the conference each day! Watch for more posts, and hopefully some photos!

Camp changes lives all over the world! News from the CCI Worldwide Summit:

Over the past few days, Pinos Reales, Spain saw leaders from Christian camping associations all over the world converge for a time of sharing, networking and growth at the CCI Worldwide Summit. The Summit proved to be a very positive time, confirming the fact that we truly are better together.

Here’s a highlight reel of the Summit’s events:

April 19, 2012

Participants arrived at Pinos Reales from all over the world, and although weary from travel, everyone was excited atthe opportunity for this unique gathering of leaders in camp ministry. The group shared a time of devotionals as the board met to solidify plans for the week.

April 20, 2012

Summit participants spent some time getting to know one another by enjoying a guided tour of Segovia, Spain. This time was an opportunity to see the sights, learn more about each other, and connect with the Creator in this beautiful part of the world. At the end of the day, the group sat down for a traditional Spanish meal. Eating together is one of the best acts of fellowship, and this time together was precious.

April 21, 2012

As the Summit truly got down to business, participants heard reports from the Regional Representatives, as well as from Dan Bolin, CCI International Director. We were proud to share how God is moving and working in Christian camps in Canada.

Did you know that over 10,600,000 campers attended a CCI camp somewhere in the world in the last year? That number is amazing! What a great affirmation that camp ministry reaches kids and affects lives.

The morning concluded with a worship service where all of the participants lifted their voices in at least 10 different languages to sing “Open the Eyes of My Heart.” As everyone joined to sing santo, santo, santo (holy, holy, holy), the purpose of the summit rang clear: that we, as followers of Christ and leaders in camp ministry, can be unified so perfectly by Christ.

April 22, 2012

Today CCI Japan shared a special update about the state of their nation following the devastating earthquake and tsunami last year. We ask that you continue to join us in prayer for their country: that God will equip CCI Japan to share God’s love and meet the needs of others in the new context of an environment threatened by disaster.

April 23, 2012

As the summit rolled along, participants continued to learn and grow in key areas of association management with the common goal of increasing the positive impact of Christian camping in all 20 member associations.

Bruce Dunning, fellow Canadian, offered all participants a free copy of his book, God of Adventure. God teaches through adventure, and so can we! The book is a great resource for camp professionals that connects Biblical principals with real adventure experiences.

April 24, 2012

It is truly exciting how all of us in Christian camping can be unified in purpose. No matter the language, environment or resources, camp ministry is about showing kids Christ’s love in an exciting, nurturing and fun setting!

The summit drew to a close with a special night. Everyone participated in the Lord’s Supper, where CCI Worldwide honoured Lorimer Gray as he completed 12 years of service as the Chairman of CCI Worldwide.

At last, everyone packed their bags to head back to their own parts of the world. The summit left everyone with fresh ideas, words of encouragement, and a spirit of camaraderie with which to face any challenges ahead.

CCI is all about building connections in camping ministry

CCI Worldwide and all of its different national branches is all about building connections in camping ministry. It is so important to form community, and in this age, we can even form communities that spread across the world!

During this past month, we were so happy to host an awesome group of camp directors and administrators from Australia and New Zealand on a tour of a bunch of our member camps. The group, which started in Ontario, toured a ton of camps across Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta.

In all, the response to the tour was great. It was a great time of networking and learning new things for everyone. CCNZ’s Director, Jenni Davies, shared with us that she felt the camp directors from down under were very encouraged by their visit. They loved seeing our passion for camping ministry and desire to built cross-cultural relationships. In Jenni’s words, the tour really highlighted the intention of camping ministry and created spaces for communities to happen.

Beyond touring camps, the group was able to witness some of Canada’s most stunning places: Niagara Falls, the Rocky Mountains, Columbia Icefields and Lake Louise, to name a few. They were excited to see wildlife like moose, elk and even a bear on the side of the highway!

One of the best lessons the group took away from the tour was that camp isn’t about activities, buildings or food. It’s about developing great staff with a passion for kids and for camping ministry. Camp is always an amazing time for kids, whether or not you’ve got a pool or horses or seventy-foot zip lines (although those things are all fun, too)! All they need is to have great staff who are committed to their safety and well-being, who can provide a positive environment in which the kids can grow.

We’ll have more to tell you about the tour as we get more feedback from the incredible group of Aussies and Kiwis, and we hope to be able to tell you lots more about the individual camps they visited, as well.  Stay tuned!