Pembina Valley Bible Camp has a smaller camp size, which allows the staff to build more personal relationships with each camper, but what happens when there is more staff than campers?
PVBC offers a variety of camp experiences, including weeks that focus on activities like paintball, bikes, horses, and dance. Just under 300 campers went through these programs this summer, but their discipleship camp, which teaches teens 15-17 years old how to be leaders, was larger than normal this year.
Executive Director, Chris Harms, who has been at the camp since April 2016 says the group "more than tripled in size from last summer. It's really really exciting, probably one of the largest camps we've ever had in our discipleship camp in the valley."
After completing the discipleship program, campers have the opportunity to return as maintenance staff, cabin counsellors, and kitchen help, to name a few. Harms adds, "the one week, probably the biggest week, we probably had 20 more staff than campers because of all these discipleship campers coming back. It was really neat to see them interacting in a different way with campers."
These aren't the only campers that return to the camp every year. Some return to support the camp they went to as a child.
On Sept. 21-22, the camp is hosting its 19th annual Horse Ride-a-Thon, which helps keep the horsemanship program running. The fundraiser involves partaking in a trail ride through the valley, eating lunch among the trees, and then gathering together back at the camp for supper with everyone in the dining hall.
Harms says, "the program itself is really expensive to run. If we were to run a camp fee equivalent to paying for the program it would be really high." The fundraiser allows them to help keep camper costs low, and maintain the space for the horses, and their equipment.
On top of this event, on October 20th they have their 3rd annual Lumberjack Split and Stack. The whole camp runs its heat off of burning wood, a large feat in the bitter cold Manitoban winter.
For one winter they use 100 cords of wood. One cord can fill the whole bed of a pickup truck to the top of the cab.
The event gives teams of up to seven people three hours to cut up rows of wood with saws, chainsaws, or whatever they'd like. "Instead of us working at this all year, every spare moment that we have - all our effort went into wood cutting before and splitting - now we have one event," explains Harms.
"It's crazy . . . when you put 85 or 100 people around this pile it's actually surprising. You can literally see it just disappear," Harms adds.
Harms says PVBC is "incredibly grateful" for all the support from the surrounding community that helps keep the camp running all year long.