For the 25th year in a row, East Kildonan youth will soon embark on a journey of discovery.
The Discovery Day Camp, a ministry of the East Kildonan Baptist Church at 700 Watt St., is marking a quarter-century this year. The camps are run for eight weeks in the summer, over spring break and over Christmas break.
Organizer Mark Werner is set to embark on his 19th year involved in the camps, and has seen the camps grow from serving 120 children to nearly 500 students aged from kindergarten through Grade 6.
"In the past 10 years, it’s been massive growth. Now, we’re at a peak where we can’t grow anymore," he said.
The day begins with approximately an hour of Bible stories and teachings, and the group then heads out for the day, be it to a movie, one of Manitoba’s beaches or waterparks, The Forks, or Assiniboine Park, among other destinations. He said it’s a change from the camp’s origins.
"We try to be bold. We try to do things kids would not experience normally, to go places that they wouldn’t see normally," he said. "At the beginning, it was more along the lines of what a daycare would do – a few field trips here and there – but now, every day, we go somewhere."
Werner said the camp has worked to make the Biblical teachings accessible to attendees by jazzing up the presentation.
"We have a big stage with flashy lights and songs, a smoke machine," he said. "We’ll give them something that is relevant to their age group and teach the truths of the Bible."
Werner also lauded the camp counsellors who work to make each week a joy for children.
"We want them to have a positive place to go," said Werner. "Our staff (members) are fantastic. They’re very personable staff – not the kind that will just stand there and watch the kids. It’s engaging, getting involved with the kids, getting to know them."
In addition to the week-long camps, the ministry also hosts a drop-in every Thursday night at the church. Werner noted one recent event had a "Night at the Museum" theme that involved telling Bible stories at different stations in the Manitoba Museum, followed by a flashlight tour.
Registration for the summer camps, which run from July 2 to Aug. 30, is $160 per week. For more information on the camps, visit www.ddconline.ca or www.facebook.com/discovery.daycamp.5.