‘It Was Worth Every Second of the Drive’

CANADA—On September 1, 56 Philadelphia Church of God members from six congregations across Canada met at a former school ground at Seba Beach, 45 minutes west of Edmonton, for a family campout. Outside, the former elementary school boasted an expansive green space, soccer field, ball diamond, and playground. Inside, campers took advantage of the gymnasium for basketball and floor hockey. The former Home Economics room provided space and ovens for meal preparation. During free time, members swam at the beach, fished, played games and explored local shops.

Upon arrival on Friday, event coordinator Mark Schlote directed members to their campsites for the weekend, and children and adults made the trek up to the soccer field for a game before sunset. A Bible Study and Sabbath services were held in the school gymnasium, along with a game of Bible Baseball for children, teens and anyone else who wanted to join. After sunset, the gymnasium bustled with footsteps and swinging hockey sticks as members played floor hockey. They later gathered by the fire for a sing-along.

At 8 a.m. Sunday morning, those willing to emerge from their tents played a game of basketball, while children prepared for a game of “capture the flag” designed specifically for them. While the children built and defended their cardboard forts, parents took the opportunity to fellowship before an afternoon softball game.

Edmonton member Jerry Ozipko, who had not been camping in over 30 years, said he made close acquaintances with at least two brethren who were not in his congregation. “It was altogether a wonderful experience,” he said.

Activities wrapped up on Sunday night with karaoke and a dance, complete with games such as “knights, mounts and cavaliers,” the limbo and musical chairs.

Member David Messier, who drove over 11 hours with his daughter to attend the campout, said, “Everyone had wonderful smiles to share. The whole weekend was extremely uplifting for me and Cayli.” He said it was “worth every second of the drive.”

As members packed up their tents, four-year-old Everett exclaimed, “Can we sleep here for 100 more sleeps?”