Every summer, children and volunteers alike count down the days until just before those special weeks at the end of July, when the decorations team puts up the beautifully created banners, teachers and assistants run through their lessons, the snacks team is busy “taste-testing”, and the games, music, crafts and drama leaders warm up their voices in preparation for the shouting, cheering, singing and laughing to ensue. I am, of course, referring to the weeks of Experience the Arts Camp and Vacation Bible School (VBS) that happen at Toronto Chinese Baptist Church, in which, the church built in the late 1800’s is transformed into a jungle safari, ocean or superhero headquarters.
The theme changes each summer, but every theme revolves around spreading God’s love. Last year, during Arts Camp, children explored their creative side in the realm of visual arts with Rocille Lampitoc and worked hard to produce short musicals highlighting the adventures of Noah’s Ark and the story of the journey out of Egypt, under the leadership of Dennis Hassell, or as we at camp fondly call him, “Big Bear”. This summer, we are excited to welcome Eva Chung (music instructor) to the Arts Camp team, as well as Big Bear, who will undoubtedly inspire the campers through music and drama and teach them just how great God’s love is.
This year’s theme for our VBS is Amazing Wonders Aviation where we will be discovering more about God’s awesome power both in nature and in our own lives. Our church will once again be transformed as we invite sixty children and forty some volunteers to take this journey together. We are excited for this journey to commence, as our preparations start to ramp up.
Our focus each year is two fold in running our camps. The first is to give the children and opportunity to meet and learn about our Saviour. If nothing else but this occurs each and every year, we would still consider it a success. Alongside this, we see our camps as ways to nurture our youth as well. Many of the volunteers that run around with the children are youth. During these two weeks we give them a chance to learn more about their faith with classes of their own, and opportunities to live out their faith through the various roles in volunteering.
Running the two camps makes for a very busy July here at TCBC, as a lot of work needs to go into making sure they run well. All of this work, time and effort is worth it, as by the time Friday night comes around, we can see that God has made an impact on the children’s lives in a variety of ways, and it is only by His grace that these two camps can play a role in His ministry.
Brennan Rabbets serves as Pastoral Intern at Toronto Chinese Baptist Church.
*This year’s camp sold out with a waiting list! Dennis Hassell is a Worship Arts Consultant commissioned by CBOQ and Toronto Baptist Ministries to work with congregations and worship leaders in growing worship arts for all ages. Email Dennis for more information about the camps, training and performances DennisHassellProductions offers.