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Camp Experience Changes Lives
At Frontier Lodge young people are challenged, loved, encouraged and made to feel better about themselves.

Amanda did not want to be at Frontier Lodge. Although she came to the one-week Senior High Wilderness Camp, she never smiled, wore black clothes everyday and didn't communicate with anyone.

For a gallery of photos, visit the Frontier Lodge website.

During the course of that week, Amanda faced a series of adrenaline-charged activities, like white-water canoeing and rappelling, where campers had to trust each other and rely on their equipment. She was also presented with the message that God created each person in His image and values every life.

"By the end of the week she was a different person," said Frontier Lodge executive director Chuck Bourn. "She was smiling and even wore brighter clothes."

He explained that many teens, like Amanda, are "crying out for someone to take interest in them...They're getting the message that they're worthless or they don't measure up."

Bourn said Amanda changed because, “We challenged her, but we also loved her and encouraged her and made her feel better about herself."

Bourn has been the director of this Christian wilderness adventure camp since 2003. Celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, Frontier Lodge is situated on Fish Lake, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, between Banff and Jasper.

Known for its emphasis on extreme sports like white-water canoeing, rock climbing, wilderness survival training and mountain biking, Bourn explained, “We put youth and adults on the edge of a cliff and on the edge of their faith."

While most camps have programs for young children through to junior high students, Frontier Lodge starts accepting campers at age 11. With an exceptional safety record, they provide a variety of adventure programs for teens, college-age students and adults.

Three years ago, Bourn initiated a First Nations Camp for 11-14 year-olds. This free camp, geared towards "at risk" First Nations youth, emphasizes the Gospel message.

The attendance has skyrocketed from five youth the first year to close to 40 kids slated to come this summer.

"We see changed lives," Borne said. 'We work hard at follow-up. That's important. It's a tough road they have."

This summer, a heli-hiking trip for adults will be offered for the first time. Participants will be taken by helicopter, high in the Rocky Mountains for a three-day guided backpacking trip.

In the fall, Frontier Lodge will facilitate their third Adventure Race sponsored by Wycliffe Bible Translators in Calgary. Similar to the Amazing Race, this weekend event sees eight or more teams of two people racing against each other in events like whitewater canoeing, rock climbing and even the Tyrolean traverse — where teams must pull themselves across a 200-foot canyon with a rope. There is also an interpretation challenge related to what Wycliffe Bible translators do and speakers who give evening sessions on the adventure of missions.

Frontier Lodge provides an array of winter programs as well. Boasting the largest ice wall in Western Canada, ice climbing is one of their most popular activities. For more information go to

Doris Fleck is a journalist from Calgary, Alberta and writes regularly for City Light News, Southern Alberta's Christian newspaper, and Faith Today Magazine.

Originally published in City Light News, April 2008.




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