Mount Traber Bible Camp trail rides

When God’s Plans Change Ours

By: Mark and Debbie Taylor, Directors MTBC with Jeanette Windle

2020 started off routine for Mount Traber Bible Camp directors Mark and Debbie Taylor and their year-round staff. Spread out over more than four hundred acres of wilderness an hour’s drive from the Nova Scotia capital of Halifax, MTBC had six weeks of normal summer camps scheduled along with horsemanship, family, wilderness, archery, and other specialty camps. By the end of January, 2020 brochures were printed, online registration up and running, and a small fortune spent in advance preparations. Over the upcoming months about six hundred campers would be enjoying their facilities and hearing the gospel.

In February, thirty elementary-aged children arrived for the annual February Freeze weekend, filled with wintery fun. Then Mark and Debbie traveled to upstate New York to pick up donated camp supplies. On their return, they heard for the first time of something called COVID-19 dominated USA news channels. Rather than waste any good old-fashioned worry on events in faraway places, they continued with summer camp planning.

But by mid-March, the seriousness of COVID-19 was realized. The Nova Scotia health authority declared a state of emergency. Students didn’t return to school after spring break. The first cancellations for MTBC were March Break camp, then our April youth retreats, followed by all outside rental groups. Within two weeks, Mount Traber’s ministry had come to a dead halt. The  financial loss was another huge blow. Then in June, the Nova Scotia health authority confirmed the cancellation of all summer camps.

The team ended up developing Traber 2U, essentially camp in a box. Each box included daily Bible lessons with a skit, a daily craft, a camper book, a Traber 2U T-shirt, and a canteen item for every day. Campers could choose from three themes—Regular Camp, Wilderness and Barn. Bible lessons, skits, and daily activities were all done through videos posted to MTBC’s own YouTube channel. Every Sunday and Friday, MTBC staff held Zoom meetings with campers doing their box that week. Various speakers who would have been at camp this summer also provided Zoom devotional sessions.

In July, MTBC was allowed to open its horse ranch program under strict coronavirus regulations for riding lessons, trail rides, and Friday Pony Ride Days. With so many other area activities cancelled, this became a huge success with many community families signing up who’d never been to MTBC before.

By September, schools were reopening, but many families were disappointed to have missed summer camps as well as family camps. With pandemic regulations eased, MTBC could now host up to two hundred and fifty guests for an outdoor daytime event. So the staff decided to hold a Family Fun Day. All plans were made when it began to rain, pouring down for days leading up to the event. The staff met and prayed for wisdom as to whether to cancel. But even as they prayed, the weather changed and the sun came out.

At this point, MTBC staff had two choices. Go into panic mode. Or stop to remember Who was really in charge and trust that God had His reasons in permitting this pandemic. They chose the latter. A first step was producing inspirational and humorous videos to encourage absent campers, staff, and supporters.  But what about camp?

That Sunday afternoon, more than two hundred and forty children and parents showed up at MTBC. The weather was perfect. Families enjoyed live music, barbecue, baked goods, a book sale, barn, pool, wagon rides, and wilderness walks, all rounded off with a time of worship and gospel message. The hunger to simply be with other people again, catch up, and fellowship was palpable among the group.

While the MTBC event schedule is not yet back to normal, they were able to hold a Traber Teen Day on October 24th, jam-packed with activities, food, wagon rides, bubble soccer, Bible study and ending with a campfire. This was extra-special as it was the only in-person event for the teens for 2020.

 

 

Another extra-special blessing has been God’s provision despite the loss of all virtually all 2020 registration revenues, as churches, individuals, and even companies have come along to help MTBC with finances. To this point, bills have been paid, praise God. Prayers now are for a return to full camp and retreat schedule in 2021.

Check out our virtual camp and other events live on MTBC’s own YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXtV9R8ZUvGydaiB6TuZ0Bw/videos

To learn more about Mount Traber Bible Camp, volunteer, or give, contact through https://mounttraber.org/

Fun and games at Mount Traber Bible Camp

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