Canteen! - Salvation Army Canada
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    Canteen!

    Retrospective #11 September 18, 2017 Randy C. Hicks
    Soup's on!
    Soup's on!

    A favourite part of the day in many a student’s life is of course recess! In some cases recess also meant it was time for canteen! Campers too love canteen! The lineups buzzed with excitement even at men’s and women’s camps! You’d swear they hadn’t eaten in days or had never had pop, chips, and chocolate bars before! (With apologies to you who follow a healthier food regime!).

    Some of my most amusing memories as a Divisional Youth Secretary came while serving at the canteen especially for the women’s camp where orders often went like this: “I’ll have two bags of chips, one bag of cheezies, two chocolate bars, one ice-cream sandwich and… (Wait for it) …a diet pop!”

    Really! I kid you not! (And I’ll probably receive death threats for posting this to prove it!)

    Some suggest that the word “canteen” originated in garrison towns and referred to small stores that sold provisions to the soldiers. This kiosk idea later found its way into arenas, schools, parks and camps. The word also became associated with vehicles used for the same purpose again originating at times of war and now tagged to certain emergency response vehicles such as those used by the Salvation Army, Red Cross and other service agencies.

    I must confess that a response of pride swells up within me whenever I see one of these road-warrior vehicles on the road or in the news. In recent days of course we’ve seen them in Fort McMurray and teams of Canadian Salvationists have joined the current efforts in Texas, Florida and elsewhere. Perhaps even in our own towns we’ve had occasion to see them responding to human need!

    Here at the Archives we have numerous pictures of such motorized canteens especially from World War 2. Again an element of pride rises as I realize how we were among the pioneers in this type of service and no doubt the activity reaches back even further in the history of our ministry.

    Some of you reading this have likely served with an “Emergency Response Team” or maybe you have been a recipient of such aid in time of trouble. General Cox has called us to renew our efforts to get out there into the world, to mobilize! That’s the Army way. That’s what we do. Yes - literally!

    Canteens for kids are about sweets as one of the joys of childhood.

    Canteens for adults may serve a similar purpose.

    Canteens for emergencies however focus on basics such as water, nutritional food, blankets, first aid supplies, basic medicines, and perhaps even counselling and human warmth and encouragement – hope.

    None of the units referred to above are fully equipped hospitals or grocery and hardware stores. Some aren’t even year round facilities. They activate to get a job done, to provide help, to save lives. Maybe there’s a lesson here for each one of us? Few of us feel completely equipped for large ministry tasks or assignments but we can all “mobilize!” We can be “canteens,” responding to immediate needs in the circles of life and influence in which we move. We can offer simple words of encouragement, smiles, listening ears, the “water” of life, the “bread” of life. We can weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh!

    Did I just hear the bell ring? Is it recess (coffee) time already? Yes! Sorry, gotta go! It’s time for ‘canteen!”

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