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Manitoba Ministry Reaches Remote Children
Fifty percent of the population in many Aboriginal communities is under the age of 18. In these kids Rick and Elizabeth Greer see potential, not plight.

This past summer more than 300 First Nations youth from remote communities across northern Manitoba were able to attend camp, thanks to Pathway Camp Ministries.

Founded in 2007 by Rick and Elizabeth Greer of Moosehorn, Manitoba, Pathway Camp “isn’t about horseback riding and climbing walls; it’s about kids having relationships with people who want to invest in them.”

Formerly successful business owners from the Toronto area, the Greers sensed a call to ministry ten years ago. “We knew we weren’t doing what we needed to be doing,” explains Rick. Selling their business and their home, the couple attended Briercrest Bible College for one year prior to moving to Moosehorn in 2000. There they joined with a local camp ministry to First Nations children until the summer of 2007.

It was then they realized the need to bring camp to the children of Manitoba’s northern rural communities.

Under the umbrella of International Christian Mission Services (ICMS), the Greers formed Pathway Camp Ministries, a non-profit organization geared to serving children ages seven to 12 from Garden Hill, Berens River, Bloodvein, Poplar River, Grand Rapids and Little Saskatchewan First Nations.

“We don’t enter a community caiming to be saviours,” says Rick. “Instead, we come in and ask ‘Is there a place we can serve?’ ”

The Greers are joined by youth groups from across Canada who help with the ministry. This summer’s first camp was in Grand Rapids, a community 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Their final camp was held in Berens River. Many of the more remote locations require staff to fly in on a small airplane. Each camp serves upwards of 75 children and consists of daylong programs, including a hot lunch, snacks, chapel time, crafts, and outdoor sports and games.

“Aboriginal communities are the fastest growing demographic in Canada,” says Elizabeth. “In many places, 50 percent of the population are under the age of 18. They’re young and vibrant with so much potential.”

It is this potential that drives the Greers to keep visiting the communities long after summer has gone to provide clothing, sports days, gym nights and girls’ days year-round.

“In the kids we see potential as opposed to plight,” explains Rick. “We ask ourselves ‘How can we love this kid today? How can we show them that they count, that they’re important to the world and to God?’ ”

Emily Wierenga is an author based in Blyth, Ontario. Her book, Save My Children, is available through Castle Quay Books.

Originally published in Faith Today, September/October 2009.

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