Returnees prove value of wilderness camp

Campers at High Prairie Wilderness Camp sing during chapel time led by singers with a variety of musical instruments.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

High Prairie Wilderness Camp continues to grow in demand.
The summer camp of 2022 attracted 66 youth ages 12-17 years, says camp director Aaron Harbidge, who launched the Christian Bible camp in 2016.
“This was our absolutely maximum possible number based on horse availability and we had youth on a waiting list,” Harbidge says.
“Our 10-day camp always fills up very fast with returning campers who want more camp than they get in a seven-day camp.”
Campers came mainly from the High Prairie region and surrounding communities of Slave Lake, McLennan, and Valleyview.
About 40 per cent of campers were new to the camp, he adds.
Campers and staff made many memories of their time.
“Some of the highlights were the beautiful weather and, of course, the trail rides and horses,” Harbidge says.
“From the campers’ perspectives, some of them really loved the chapel sessions, while others absolutely loved the games.”
Campers are attracted to the camp for various reasons.
“I believe campers keep coming back because we provide a safe, trustworthy environment where campers feel valued, cared for and safe with the staff,” Harbidge says.
“Our staff are volunteers who love what they do and I think the youth know that as they interact with the staff.
“In a time when some many camps are struggling to find staff, we had a team of experienced, mature staff who exemplified teamwork and enthusiasm.”
Camp leaders heard many positive comments from campers and parents.
“I don’t want to go home,” one camper comments.
“My kids absolutely loved it,” adds one parent.
Harbidge says the camp has grown into a valuable asset.
“Our small group size contributes to a family atmosphere where everybody supports each other,” Harbidge says.
“I firmly believe that larger camps serve youth in valuable ways but also that smaller camps, such as High Prairie Wilderness Camp, have a definite purpose and fill a need in our communities.”
HPWC restructured under a new new organization called The Journey Ministries, he says.
“The focus of the organization is directly on building and growing multiple wilderness camp ministries and High Prairie is the first,” Harbidge says.
“We have plans to start and new mountain camp next summer with concepts coming together for a river canoe camp in 2024.”
A new website is planned for January.

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