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British Columbia Surfing Trip Builds Character


A dozen young people and leaders from New Life Christian Reformed Church in Abbotsford, British Columbia, recently returned from a character-building surfing adventure in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The annual trip is organized by Mike VanderKwaak, the church’s executive pastor.

“The idea for the trip is that life can be a bit rough at times, and we want to take people out of the city to experience some goodness. We get to give kids confidence by inviting them to do a hard thing—cold-water surfing,” VanderKwaak explained.

This is the sixth time VanderKwaak has taken a church group surfing. Previous trips were organized with his former church, Heartland Fellowship CRC, in Chilliwack, British Columbia.

Church leaders are encouraged to participate so they can learn to serve others and build community.

“I've been involved with volunteering with our youth trips and service projects, so this seemed like a great opportunity. Being able to help out at camp and enjoy God’s splendor on the west coast has been a true blessing,” said Heartland CRC member Alex Maarhuis after his third surfing trip.

New Life CRC member Matthew Brandsma also plans to use the experience to help him grow as a youth leader. “I want to show [young people] various ways in which they can enjoy creation and impart to them the joy of being outside. I often feel the closest to God when I’m outside doing something I love, and I want them to feel that too,” he explained.

VanderKwaak summed it up this way: “Surfing is about catching waves. We don't make them—they are a gift from God. So when [participants] go home they can take with them some of the goodness of God that they experienced in the ocean.”

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