Gene Krahn’s contributions to the growth and development of camps in B.C. were recognized earlier this year when he received an award of excellence from the Canadian Camping Association.
Krahn has been involved in camping ministries for 23 years—three camping seasons at Gardom Lake Bible Camp and now moving into his 20th year as director of Pines Bible Camp. Both camps are owned by the B.C. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.
“I was taken by surprise that I received the award,” says Krahn. “I was really touched that people would have taken time to recognize the journey we’ve been on and what God has accomplished. I give God all the glory for everything.”
Reflecting on his camping ministry, Krahn acknowledges the support and mentorship of Wilf Pauls, who was director of Gardom Lake Bible Camp in the early 1990s when Krahn was at the camp. “Wilf’s influence on my life and his desire for camp ministries is still with me to this day,” says Krahn.
His wife Vicky shares his passion for camping ministries. “Ministry is at the top of our list—what ministry opportunities are out there for our camp? What are the opportunities to be more forward looking and more intentional? How can we incorporate new partnerships that will help us adapt to our current culture?”
Under his leadership, the number of campers at Pines Bible Camp has increased to nearly 1,400 from fewer than 400 in 1995. Among the many highlights is seeing campers embrace God’s love, grace and forgiveness, become part of summer staff teams and then send their own kids to camp.“It is a privilege to be part of what God is doing here,” says Krahn.
The award of excellence also recognizes Krahn’s leadership following the violent windstorm in 2012 that claimed the life of 11-year-old Richard Fehr, uprooted and toppled trees and destroyed cabins and other buildings. A memorial fund designated to assist campers has been established in Richard’s memory.
With assistance from Mennonite Disaster Services and many other volunteers and churches, damage from the storm has been cleaned up. About 1,000 trees have been removed from the 66-hectare site. The campsite has been redesigned and new cabins have been built.
Some of the camp’s 16 cabins are available for church groups and their group leader. Each camper from the church group can invite a friend whose registration fees are covered by the camp. The leader of this group serves as a junior cabin leader.
“Relationship building among the kids and their leaders takes place at camp,” says Krahn. “When they go back to their communities these relationships serve as a springboard that is second to none.”
One of the new challenges is finding ways to incorporate technology without distracting from the benefits of traditional camping experiences where campers were removed from outside influences and immersed in camping activities.
“We are trusting God for wisdom as we move forward,” says Krahn.
Gladys Terichow is the staff writer for the Canadian Conference of MB Churches