Summer Role: Program Director
What do you do as a Program Director, Leslie?
I plan everything from the beginning of Summer camp to the execution and all that needs to come together. That includes making camp schedules, setting deadlines, creating a staff training plan, etc. At camp I make sure everything comes together as planned as I equip and empower the staff to do their job well. I have realized that you can plan and organize things really well but you need to be able to problem solve, think on your feet and make it work in reality. I also help with challenging camper situations like discipline and homesickness in an effort to support our leaders and campers. I really enjoy that time of helping campers because it gives me the opportunity to walk with our cabin leaders and connect with campers. What I really appreciate about my role is that I get to see the bigger picture of camp - asking the why and then figuring out the how.
What is your Charis Camp Story?
I have come here with my own Church since I was in grade 8 as a camper and then a leader. How I was led to become a cabin leader here at Charis camp was an answer to prayer two years ago. I felt God called me back to be the summer camp Program Director at this place for this season. It has been a faith stretching journey to be here, never had I imagined I would be working at a camp, let alone in Chilliwack. Life is cray cray when you’re on a journey with Jesus. It has been an incredible journey as God has transformed me, worked in and through me to impact lives and be part of this discipleship model through Marty and the staff here. The vision of this camp resonates with me. It is a training ground of impacting leaders so they can be equipped to go where God is calling them.
What has God been teaching you in this season?
The biggest lesson for me this year has been about how I have valued planning and foresight, time and productivity. I don’t like interruptions, especially setbacks! However, those moments taught me to pause - Be Still - in the hustle and bustle of life and work, and know that He is God. God is teaching me to submit and surrender. A verse that has been meaningful through this is Isaiah 55:8-9 where God says His ways and thoughts are higher than mine. I want to live this life unsafe and unsure, but not afraid. It’s been all about stepping out in faith, having my desire be Jesus and have everything be a loving sacrifice to God. This hasn’t always been the case...I grew up as a Chrisitian, knowing all these things but it has moved from head to heart knowledge in a whole new way here. I love being able to share that growth with other Leaders. We all have a story to tell.
What has been a highlight so far this Summer?
I love camp ministry and how it impacts kids. Witnessing kids being transformed by the power of the gospel and the love of Christ through camp is always exciting. Being in my role this year I get to equip and empower leaders to do the same by inviting young leaders to follow me as they follow Christ. Working with the program staff also means I get to encourage and challenge them to tap into their gifts and talents. They make camp ten times better than it would’ve been if I were to do everything myself. I love watching God work through their lives through their roles and am excited for what God will call them onto next! It has been amazing to celebrate with the leaders about what is happening in their campers lives. Even the challenges have been amazing as I watch the leaders grow and change - leaning into Jesus - to love and serve in a way that is only possible because of Christ in their lives.
If you could tell everyone anything about Charis, what would it be?
I love this place. My life has been changed here!
It is the people that are here, not the program or structure of camp. I have witnessed so many kids and leaders, young and old -changed. I love everything I get to witness God doing here. Wherever you are in life and your walk with God, I would highly recommend coming here to experience God and witness his work in such a unique setting and ministry. It’s an amazing place!
It is a great place to experience what Christian community can look like. The verse that comes to mind is John 13: 34-35 “As I have loved you, so you must love one another...:” We live this at Charis. This is what really stood out to me when I first came - a community of people who love Jesus and love kids.
I hear you have had a major life changing event happen at camp with a special someone...a bit of Camp Romance, perhaps???
I came to camp because I really wanted to be here for the kids and be part of what God was doing here but another individual came back last summer for the same reasons and we met! It all started with appreciating one another but didn’t think too much about it during summer months. We kept in touch after, our fondness for each other grew, His love for Christ was evident. Eventually we started dating! We both really appreciate this place, this ministry is so precious. The annual staff knew us really well and were super excited to see this relationship unfold. It was funny to watch but also means a lot to have our “camp family’” be involved! It has been fun coming back this year, serving together and discovering how we compliment one another.
Aside from that can I just say how much I love our Staff this summer?
I love the silly goofiness of the Program staff. We have started talking like each other and laugh a lot about it. I catch myself using different vocabulary than I came in with at times. I love the energy. Plus they are highly capable and everyone works together in their gifts as the Body of Christ. I love watching it all come together. Love this amazing group of people … like I mentioned earlier, it’s not the program or facility, but the people who made Charis Summer Camp 2019 what it is. I love the high energy, fun, and relational part of camp but honestly there’s so many moving parts at camp. There’s a place for everyone; including a city girl like me ;)
Thank you, Leslie! You have been a gift from God to Charis this Summer. It has been a privilege to be your family and get a front row seat to God's hand in your life and your transformation!
Summer & Year Round Role: Director of Discipleship
The man, the big cheese, the guy of infamous quotes and kissy lips...not Marty, but Marty Bennett!
What do you do as the Director of Discipleship in the Summer?
I oversee the recruiting and hiring of the Program and Summer Staff as well as speakers. Then I support, equip and encourage them in their roles and provide spiritual guidance through mentoring. The best part of my role is identifying young leaders and investing in them. My passion is to not only run Summer camp but to help our leaders reach their potential.
What was different about this Summer?
We formed our Program team in January and experienced the benefits of that team development as we went into Summer. We will definitely do that again. This year we made it mandatory for all Summer staff to be mentored because it is my passion and conviction to see God not only work through them but also IN them.
What’s been a highlight of Summer 2019 so far?
Working with such an amazing team and having a front row seat to seeing lives transformed. There are a lot of stories of hard hearts becoming soft and walls coming down. It really doesn’t get any better than that!
What’s your Charis Camp Story?
My first summer camp experience here was speaking at Huzzah with my wife. When my kids were old enough to go to Sparks they wanted me to be their Cabin Leader so I volunteered for those weeks to be with my boys. After being a Youth Pastor for 16 years, I started as the Director of Discipleship in 2016 here at Charis Camp. It’s been a fun season of learning, growing and changing as we seek to impact as many young people as possible. It feels like I’m in my sweet spot.
That’s some good stuff...but I heard you are really funny and none of this is funny...
The truth is, I am funny. I just don’t feel a strong need to be funny right now. I just want to enjoy my coffee. Do you want me to be funny or do you need me to be funny? Because that will determine how this goes.
Ya, go ahead and be funny Marty!
I like to laugh. I’m learning to laugh at myself more and others. I like to laugh at others, it makes them wonder if they are doing something wrong. They usually are. The reality is, everybody’s got buttons...some are bigger than others...and I like to push them. From my perspective, that’s part of the discipleship process.
Thank you Marty, I hope your boss reads this and makes any necessary changes.
But in all seriousness, Marty Bennett is a gift. He is amazing at developing teams, setting culture and resolving conflict. He does all of this while making us laugh and we love him!
Summer Role: Head Nurse
Lois has rocked it as a Camp Nurse at Charis Camp since 2015!
What does it mean to be a Camp Nurse, Lois?
Emergency preparedness, make sure all supplies stocked, camper calls before camp to ensure medical form information is clear for the best week possible. First Aid and medical care throughout the week... Not to mention lice ministry...
I heard you started an awesome New program at Charis. Tell me about it!
A few years ago we had a decision to make with resourcing those with exceptionalities. I started something called Beyond Boundaries; I stole the concept from another camp. It’s a program to help kids be at camp that need that bit of extra help that our existing structure wasn’t able to provide. We do an extended interview with parents to see how to support their kids, find people who are equipped to be a resource to them and connect them at Charis for the best week possible!
What’s your Camp Story?
I was a camper, fell in love with camp and never went away! I was a cabin leader, then a camp wife and a nurse. My life was changed at camp when I had mentors at that saw potential in me, called me up and out, helped me know how to be a leader and now I am excited to do the same for others. I love seeing kids' lives changed in a week at Charis. I love seeing them find their identity in Jesus. It’s such a unique ministry; there is nothing quite like camp!
What’s a favorite memory at Charis?
I love pranks! Ha ha ha! They are my favorite things in the whole wide world! One that I can confess publicly is that we saran wrapped someone’s car at their house...saran wrapping is awesome! One time we were saran wrapping someone's cabin and one of my accomplices broke her ankle on a saran wrap role. Brian (Lois' husband) says, “nothing says love like being pranked by Lois.” Obviously getting engaged, married and having babies at camp are top memories too:)
If you could tell people anything about Camp what would it be?
Camp is for EVERYONE! It doesn’t look the same for everyone but it is for introverts, extroverts, young and old...it changes everyone’s life! I think that the most common misconception is that camp is just for kids.
Thank You Nurse Lois!
Charis is better because of you! You are an essential part of the team and your camp family adores you!
The Piccioni Family (Left to Right)
Barnaby, Lois, Brian, Jack