On Sunday, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church will open with worship at Alumni Hall in London, Ontario. The sole nominee for the position of Moderator is the Rev. Dr. Rick Horst. Rick has long connections to Camp Kintail and we are proud to call him a Kintail alumni. Rick took the time to answer some questions about camping in the Presbyterian Church.
Some reflections on the role and influence of Christian camping:
In my early teens, I was introduced to Christian camping through Camp Kintail. I immediately fell in love with the sense of community and equality which the camping experience provided. As a youth, many of my camp-established friendships were cemented into life-long relationships which still enrich my adult life. Camp made that possible.
As well as a camper, at Kintail I had the opportunity to be a counsellor and even a Camp Director on a couple of occasions. This stood me in good stead when, as a young ordained minister serving three Toronto inner-city congregations, I was appointed as the Convenor of the Camp Board in Toronto-Kingston Synod (now Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda). When I returned to the Synod of Hamilton-London (currently the Synod of Southwestern Ontario) to serve the congregation in St. Mary, I was appointed to the position of Kintail Camp Board Convenor for a three-year term in the late eighties. Concurrent with all this was the national opportunity to serve on the Gladys E. Montgomery Camping and Outdoor Ministries Committee, once again working with dedicated Christians for whom camping and all its benefits had been highly influential.
Clearly, camping ministries have had a huge influence on my personal faith journey. In the natural setting where the pace of life is more reflective and appreciative, I was able to discover the Spirit of God at work in my life and in the lives of many around me. I developed an appreciation for the gift of faith-sharing, and for the opportunities which easily arise in the camping setting that encourage personal growth in prayer and gentle witnessing. As someone who has served ordained ministries in both urban and more rural settings, I have seen the power that a camping perspective can bring into an institutional environment which is often longing for a more natural and calming retreat approach to ministry. It encourages conversation, reflection and relationship-building; these are fundamental values for growing in faith in the company of fellow seekers and disciples.
In a time in which many of our congregations are struggling to understand and define their missional calling in Christ’s service, I see the mission of Christian camping as a priceless resource for helping people to discover and/or re-connect with a sense of the holy in their lives. In our more and more urban style of living, the retreat scenario continues to offer an opportunity for people to “come away to a quiet place” and re-discover the powerful leading of God’s Spirit for their lives. What a gift it is to be able for even a short time to shut out the mundane and demanding portions of our lives in order that we can be genuinely open to experience the teaching and leading power of the Lord Jesus Christ without so many distractions! Many persons of faith will share, as I do, a sense of having made room for Christ in the center of their being through the ministry of camping.