Camping with a deeper purpose

Posted: September 22, 2010

By Jonathon Naylor, Editor

The following story was reprinted with permission from The Reminder, a newspaper that serves Flin Flon and area.

Brianna Custer and Noah Osiowy on the merry-go-round.
Photo by Jonathon Naylor.

Angela Osiowy knows what it’s like to drown in a sea of hopelessness.

As a teen she led what can only loosely be described as a life, scraping by on the streets and deluging her inner anguish with alcohol. “I had a lot of troubles,” she concedes. Today Osiowy is clean, sober and happily married, a remarkable turnaround she credits to a religious awakening. Wanting others to experience the power of faith, this summer she agreed to co-direct Beaver Lake Bible Camp along with husband Mitchell.

About 155 youth, ranging in age from 8 to 17, registered for the distinguished camp, based a short jaunt outside Denare Beach along the scenic shore of Amisk Lake.

Arriving primarily from Flin Flon, Creighton, Denare Beach, Pelican Narrows and The Pas, the young campers forged a uniquely Christian comradeship. When they weren’t paddling canoes, shooting arrows or enjoying organized games, they were learning Bible verses, attending chapel services or hearing heartfelt testimonials from Christians.

But the camp was not just a summer getaway for children already familiar with Biblical teachings. On the contrary, Osiowy said the lion’s share of the campers arrived with no church background at all.

“Eighty per cent have been new (to) faith,” she said. “There have been a lot of kids who have come to Christ. A lot of them come from homes where they’re needing something – they’re not sure (what), they’re just needing something. And when they just learn about God and learn about what He’s got to give, and the free gift He’s given us, they’re really excited about it.” Operating for five six-day sessions from mid-July to mid-August, the camp atmosphere and activities evolved to match each week’s age group.

“With the younger kids, 8- to 11-year-olds, we were doing a chapel that was really themebased, teaching them what the Bible is, what God is, who His son Jesus is,” notes Osiowy. “But with the older kids, we’re doing a lot of testimonies and (showing) how God has changed different people’s lives.” Perhaps the most famous lesson in the Bible is the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This age-old concept was in full force at the camp.

“We’re really tough on stuff – like no swearing, treat people with respect,” says Osiowy. “One of our rules is, if you disrespect somebody, you lose your (snack time) until you’re able to (compliment) 10 other people.”

In an era of the Internet and instant communication, some may find the notion of a Bible camp a little quaint for contemporary times.

Not Osiowy, a Caronport, Sask., resident now in her fifth year of studies to become a pastor. “Kids love it, and I mean to see a kid come to camp and know that their parents are fighting, things aren’t going right at home, just they come sometimes lost and hurt,” she says. “And to leave camp with a hope and a joy and an excitement that not only comes from games and fun but that comes from Christ alone, I mean you can’t buy that.”

With the site closed for the summer as of August 13, Osiowy encourages people to consider volunteering at the camp when it resumes next year. Beaver Lake Bible Camp is a well-established summer tradition, having started more than 60 years ago.