Campers from MacKenzie Camp’s MacKenzie Connect enjoy a pop-up campfire, complete with songs, at St. Andrew’s United Church in Enderby. (MacKenzie Connect photo)

Campfires pop up at North Okanagan alternative summer camp

MacKenzie Camp near Mabel Lake in Enderby still trying fun things for summer despite COVID-19

DON MCNAIR

For The Morning Star

There were some zany songs being sung last Friday evening, July 3, along Alexis Park Drive. Like Down by the Bay (where the watermelons grow), Way-O Way-O, and Tarzan (who has a tan). And one about “washing turkeys and hanging them on the line.”

And plenty of others. They were the main event at a Pop-Up Campfire in Vernon’s Trinity United Church parking lot. It was organized by MacKenzie Connect, a camping alternative for this Summer of COVID-19.

The centre of attention was a propane fireplace around which campers, MacKenzie Connect staff, and other camp enthusiasts gathered in a big, socially-distanced circle. For safety’s sake, everyone signed in first, and the event only lasted 35 minutes. But it was a delightful bit of the “old normal” amidst the “new normal.”

MacKenzie Connect is the brainchild of a group of dedicated MacKenzie Camp summer counsellors. Knowing that the traditional and much-loved camping program on Mabel Lake near Enderby was a no-go, they put their heads together – virtually – to create something else. It had to use online technology, for sure, but only as a trigger to real-life adventuring.

So they dreamt up a roster of low-cost, four- and five-day online camps, running in July and early August.

Campers “gather” every morning and afternoon, and take on a fun challenge, concerning art, nature, science, or something they can do to boost the spirits of others. Then they go off and do it, and report back. Craft materials and a camp T-shirt are provided to each camper in a Camp@Home box of supplies.

Every day concludes with an online campfire and Vespers (prayer). Each week concludes with a talent show in which campers as well as their family and friends can “show their stuff.” Every week there is also a Pop-Up Campfire in a church parking lot somewhere in the North Okanagan, so everyone can (sort of) meet each other.

The director of MacKenzie Connect is local theatre teacher Lana O’Brien. The chaplain is Rev. Franklyn James, of Zion United Church. Campfire lovers as well as campers are welcome at the Pop-Ups. For campfire dates and locations – and online camp information and registration – go to the MacKenzie Connect website, mackenzieconnect.weebly.com.

READ MORE: MacKenzie Camp on Mabel Lake moves online amid COVID-19



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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