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It was a week of launching rockets, playing water games, making crafts, navigating obstacle courses and mazes, and jumping in bounce castles. This year’s Kidz Connect, a VBS program at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Flamborough, Ontario, hosted over 160 children at their unique outdoor camp program.

With waning interest in a traditional VBS program, the church transformed their program 10 years ago to get children outdoors after spending the school year in a classroom. Because of the large, safe green space on this rural church’s property, an outdoor day camp program was a good fit. The custom program is created by congregation members, including writing the skits and Bible lessons for the week.

Running an outdoor program brings new challenges such as fears of inclement weather. To date, the program has never been rained out. “It’s rained all around us or right as the last child came back inside for closing, but never during the morning. God has really blessed us through all the years,” said volunteer Karen Vandermeulen.

The congregation has embraced this program, many taking time off work to help out. This year, over 50 volunteers offered their time to ensure this program’s success. “One thing that has helped us is to think outside the box and encourage that in our leaders. To adapt, be flexible, and focus on our volunteers’ gifts, to do what they are passionate about,” explained pastor Jeff Janssen. Kidz Connect organizer Renee Groen appreciates the tremendous support: “As leaders, we have fears about having enough volunteers, but it always comes together.”

The church also partners with City Kidz to bring two buses of children from underprivileged neighborhoods in nearby Hamilton to enjoy a week at this camp. Pastor Janssen sees this as an important part of their ministry, providing a chance to make a tangible difference in these children’s lives.

For the camp attendees, it was a week to remember. Asked to name the highlight of the week, most kids favored the Slip’n’Slide and the bounce castles.

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