Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

10 June 2013

Our weekend at Ontario Pioneer Camp

"The more we get together the happier we'll be"

Allan Sherman won a Grammy for "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" in 1964 and put a pop-culture face on the boy who didn't like camp at first but grew to love it over the course of the week.  It's happened at camps across our continent time and time again, summer after summer, from that day till this. Or so I was told.

This weekend, Ontario Pioneer Camp invited The Carrol's to come and experience everything their northern summer oasis had in their fun-times arsenal.  Little did they know, that they were inviting someone who (as I blogged about before the trip) as a boy purposely tried to injure himself to avoid the summer camp experience altogether. So I was FAR from a ringer.

I heard stories over and over all weekend from their INCREDIBLE staff of young, passionate people about how much they loved camp when they were kids.  In fact 70% of the kids who go to OPC... come back.  And their counselors, for the VAST majority, are former campers whose lives were impacted and now SERVE others out of LOVE.  Love of what?   Well when you look at the Twitter account of the director of Outdoor Education Retreats at Ontario Pioneer Camp Andrew Hall... it says what the love is about.

Jesus.  Family.  Outdoors.  I believe this about the people at OPC.

This was a "Bloggers Weekend."  I have never been invited to something like this.  My task was to play on my ipod so I could InstagramTweet and Facebook my way through this family adventure and then summarize my thoughts in this blog. I was with a great group of "Mommy Bloggers" and became the token "Daddy Blogger" for the weekend. I've been called worse!  I started Big Ear Creations to keep in contact with those I wished to Pastor in Brantford while working in Hamilton during the formative years of planting Freedom House so blogging was never "THE thing" for me.  But by God's grace... it's BECOME " A thing."

So let me tell you my thoughts in two ways.

  1. What we did.... and what you'll experience when you go to OPC.
  2. My "Dave" internal thoughts

First...These folks worked hard to care for us this weekend.  You could tell.  Everything from gift certificates to the famous Webers burgers on the way up Highway 11, to a room full of swag.   They didn't NEED to... but they DID. But that's what I experienced over and over.  People SERVING others, not because they HAD to... but because they WANTED to.

The facilities at OPC are top top notch.  We did everything from rock walls, to low ropes for younger kids like mine, to canoeing and vball, to the ole standard of archery!  It was GREAT.  All of it.   And it wasn't surprising that it was great. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (who runs OPC) is a top notch organization that I respect and has a heart to disciple kids.

And let me say this on the way through.  This weekend was a BLESSING for a guy who has found nearly every hour scheduled for 2-3 weeks in advance.  It's not a good thing.  It's wearing.  And this weekend was a LIFE breather.  It was GOD flat out. 

But let me tell you about my SECOND line of thought... because the GOOD goes a little deeper.

I tweeted this on Saturday morning while I began to feel my "self" who isn't a big PERSONAL fan of "campy" type activities creep up into my morning.

TOGETHER... HAS been the struggle since the garden.  Because we are MEANT to be together, sharing, and taking care of one another.  But sin interrupted this.   It divided and separated man from God... and thus created the tasty temptation for DIVIDE between God's people until this very day.  And the only way to combat it, is to "take captive of every thought and make it obedient to Christ" INTENTIONALLY.

What they are attempting to do (and succeeding at)  is bringing separate people together.  I overheard one of the young mom's on staff say this over breakfast, attempting to serve others while her two young rambuntios boys were running around...

She was right.  It does.

I didn't like camp growing up.  And if I'm honest... playing capture the flag, singing goofy songs and doing challenges is STILL a little cringe-worthy to me.  Then it occurred to me, in the same way that so many things have occurred to me as a Christian adult who is called to lead.  If this has never occurred to you... write this down:


As I listened to camp counselors talk about kids who have solidified their walk with Jesus, found lifelong friendships and even discovered freedom and respite for the first time at OPC... I said to myself, "I WANT THAT for my kids!"  And (revelation coming) my Mom wanted that for hers to.

I want the best for my kids JUST LIKE how my Mom wanted the best for hers.  But we likely both assumed we knew, or thought, or hoped, that WE also knew the best way to make that happen. But...


It's about others.  Life is ALWAYS about others. And my kids... LOVED Ontario Pioneer Camp. I'll tell you why.  It was the people there.  I work days in advertising/marketing and I'm always looking for the USP (unique selling proposition) for my clients. For OPC, the UPC is the people who are giving of their lives for the prosperity of others.  See...


And they GET that. My youngest daughter Brianna (6) took a specific liking to a young leader who called himself "Jose."  It was his camp name.  Yet another "camp thing" I didn't know about. And I hate nicknames.  I feel ridiculous using nicknames.  But he's a GREAT GUY with a real life passion for Jesus and young people.  Brianna loved him and...


I asked Brianna tonight why she loved "Jose."  She said (and I quote)

"Because I beat his butt!"
Brianna Carrol

He allowed a 6 year old girl to beat him at a camp games MULTIPLE times.   Why?  Because...


She found a guy who she knew loved the same Jesus that she does.   She found out that he valued her enough to play games with her, because of his selfless actions and it affirmed her.  She came home FULL.  As a parent... this is what I want my kids to experience as many times as they can.

I am pleased give Ontario Pioneer Camp a 'big up' and I hope that God makes a way to offer this experience to my kids next summer... and (since I'm sure the staff will read this) if you need speakers, I'd love to come share the Captain Kindness story one day!

The more we get together the happier we'll be.


Matt said...

I remember going to Webers on the way home from Algonquin. Oh the memories I have had sitting in a passenger train car eating a delicious hamburger with my family. I always get excited when I hear from my family "we're making a pit stop at Webers"

Tammy inRdream said...

Your family is amazing! I had such a great time on stage with you on opening night. Talking with your beautiful wife and watching you children play with mine. I am so sad the weekend had to end, but I look forward to the chance to go back one day! Pioneer Camp has won my heart!

Margarita Ibbott said...

Dave it was such a pleasure meeting you at Pioneer Camp. I really enjoyed my stay also and the kids were... well... over the moon. I will be watching your blog from now on. Take care and my best to your lovely wife!

Dave Carrol said...

Thanks everyone!

Shashers Life said...

it was awesome to get to know you guys on a deeper level. i believe god puts these moments together for a purpose. :)

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