The law of your mouth is better to me

than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Psalm 119:72

Name of Organization: Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp

CRA B/N: 118880442-RR0001Governing Documentation can be found on our website here and here.

About Us

Established in 1956, Crow is a Bible Camp on the Great Divide in the Canadian Rockies. Every summer, we host some 700 kids (9-17 years old). Outside play, and being outdoors, is a core part of our camping philosophy and our summer programs. But we don't have a swimming pool, or a speedboat. We don't have soccer nets, or a beautiful patch of thick turf to play soccer on (though we are thrilled with the grass we do have!) 

What we do have is… mountains.

Crow is a truly not-for-profit organization. In fact, we are a not-for-revenue organization. Our camp does not charge any fees - all campers who participate in our summer programs come for free. We do not want money to be a barrier to access for anyone; especially the campers, but also the summer staff and senior leaders. We do have a summer bursary program, because we are committed to removing obstacles to participants. That said, for a camp that has no camper revenue, money is always a limited resource.

What is your camp good at? 

This is a restless age. But in our experience, getting kids out hiking in the mountains changes their focus, and encourages rest. They look down, to follow the path carefully, and they focus on immediate things - physical hunger, aching legs, cold fingers and toes. And yet, while they are out, we make sure they have the chance to lift their eyes up to the hills. They have the opportunity to meet God, and meet themselves, in a way that somehow seems impossible elsewhere. That's what Crow is all about. That’s why we do this.

We offer world-class outdoor education programs. We have never bothered to fact check this, but it seems possible to us that Crow runs the largest backpacking program in Alberta, with 500+ kids sleeping out in tarps in a typical summer (note: lately, we haven’t had much in the way of “typical”). 

We also train outdoor leaders in-house, in our Crowsnest Outdoor Leadership Training School (COLTS). This discipleship program, together with our Personnel in Training program (PIT) are what we do best, and are a source of continuing pride, and staff, for Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp.

Camp Programs

We are a Bible Camp, and we do Bible Camp things well. We don't want to brag, and we're not competing, and there are lots of good camps (Crow is just one of the many good camps), but we feel really confident reporting that we do camp well. Anyone observing our programs would find them exemplary - excellent and unique. We also do community-building well, as other summer camps do. Similarly, our chapel sessions and our efforts to build community, both within our camp and between camp and the Crowsnest Pass as a whole, are excellent, as you would expect from a camp of our size and experience.

Our summer programs have been refined (both organically and through deliberate analysis), with the result being that we have several different layers, or communities of practice, every summer:

  1. The Campers (9-17 year olds; part of our community for 7-10 days; the immediate focus of our programs. Our expectation is that we create a program that is enjoyable, instructive, and challenging - as appropriate for the camper’s age. We host approximately 90-110 kids per week through the summer.)

  2. The Summer Staff (Volunteers, who may participate for as little as one week, or as many as eight weeks. We envision our summer staff - most critically the cabin leaders - as wise older brothers and sisters; they participate in the camp in the same way as the campers: they don’t need to know what’s coming next - they play the games, and they go on the hikes, and they take their meals with the campers. They are responsible to serve the campers. There are 25-40 Summer Staff volunteers per week.)

  3. Senior Leaders (Volunteers, filling leadership roles as speakers, program directors, ‘outtrip’ leaders, and program leaders, coordinating climbing, canoeing, archery, and wilderness adventure programs. Most senior leaders commit for 8-16 weeks, but program directors and speakers may opt to participate for one week only. Their primary role is to support and serve the Summer Staff, and occasionally the Campers. There are ~20 Senior Leaders on the summer team.)

  4. Permanent Staff (Paid team who are responsible for oversight of the program, and ensure continuity, program quality, and stakeholder relations throughout the summer. Their role is to train and support the Senior leaders, and occasionally Summer Staff, and infrequently, as required, directly serve with campers. There are 6 Permanent Staff members at Crow.)

Although we provide basic theoretical concepts from academic literature as a framework for leadership, our training model is not built on abstraction. Instead, learning takes place in real life settings, where decisions have tangible consequences. This means placing our senior leaders into positions of real responsibility, with instructor supervision and thorough weekly feedback/debriefing regarding their performance. 

Leadership roles are not limited to fun, or learning, or figurative and literal mountaintop experiences. We are aiming explicitly at creating leaders. Development is always followed by real-life application. This has proven effective. Over 60 years, we've seen our participants grow in providing influence across all contexts - not just in the outdoors, but in many disparate settings (at work, at church, in schools, or in the community).

Our leadership programs are premised upon seeing people grow from learners into leaders. We've seen that people can - and do! - excel in tough, uncomfortable situations. Though it is a relatively short program, we see exceptional growth year after year, in people who God is changing for the better in their time at Camp.

A Word from our Director
I return again and again with my family to camp work because I care about camp. I believe a place like Crow should exist. I have benefited from the deep and meaningful community at camp, and I want to repay that experience. Indeed, I continue to benefit from working here: this is a good place to learn, to grow, to serve. There is going to be a continuing community at Crow. I want to serve here to do my part to ensure that this place reflects Jesus - who I love. Jesus, who is love, who is good, who is powerful, who is glorious, who is smart. I want our community to be reflective of these things for others, as it has been for me. ~ David Graham, summer 2023. 

Jun 22, 2023 By David Graham