Custer, S.D., in the Black Hills was the setting for the 2017 International Camporee held by the Calvinist Cadet Corps. Run by Dynamic Youth Ministries, Cadets is an evangelistic program for boys with more than 600 clubs throughout North America, many of them in Christian Reformed churches. The Camporee, called Camp Elk Run, was held from July 12-19 and hosted by the Three Rivers, Sioux Valley, and Golden Plains Cadet clubs. Participating cadets and leaders (708 boys and 198 leaders from 217 clubs) came from all over to enjoy a week of camping and other activities. They formed camp groups for the week, experiencing the event with cadets from other clubs.
Trey Kelderman, 14, who attends Trinity CRC in Rock Valley, Iowa, and is part of the Three Rivers Cadet club, said he enjoyed meeting new people and “being able to meet them as strangers but think of them as friends by the time you leave.” He said that his experiences at the Camporee, where the theme was God Seeking Us (Ezekiel 34:11), have impacted his relationship with Christ: “I think that being at the Camporee has made me grow deeper in Christ and has made me more aware of his love for his people.”
The week was filled with many different activities including two trips, one to Mount Rushmore and another to various area lakes. The groups also completed service projects throughout their stay, including clearing out pine trees to allow more aspen to grow and improving browsing habitat for elk.
Bill Bajema, also a member of Trinity CRC, was part of the equipment team that transported items needed for the camp. He described organizing the site a week ahead of the event as a “major undertaking.” Bajema was impressed by the closeness and relationships campers made in just two weeks, saying he did not know if he would see some of his fellow team members again until they reached “the other side of heaven.” Merle Wynia, counselor and Trinity CRC member, said what he took from the event was that God loves and has a passion for all of us “whether we are from near or far, U.S. or Canadian, old or young.”
The International Camporee is held every three years, with the 2020 event planned for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.