When you step onto the grounds of The Salvation Army's Scotian Glen Camp in Thorburn, N.S., you can feel the presence of God. He's everywhere— in the people, in nature. I love taking a canoe out on the river. When I look out at the still water, I know God is with me.

This summer is my fourth year as a counsellor at Scotian Glen. I started as a camper. My dad left when I was young, leaving my mom to raise five children on her own. We moved around a lot and money was tight. The Salvation Army helped us with food and told us about the camp, and I attended for two or three years.

In 2004, when I was eight, my mom met someone special and we moved from Saint John, N.B., to Summerside, P.E.I. Moving from a big city to a small town was a challenge, but it was a new beginning for all of us—new home, new friends, new school, new church. A few years later, my stepfather passed away from a rare heart condition. Growing up without a stable father figure was difficult.

When I was 12, I went back to Saint John to visit my grandfather for a long weekend. This is when everything changed for me. I went to church with him, and during Sunday school, they asked the kids if we had given our hearts to the Lord. I said I wanted to. They explained it was a serious commitment and wouldn't be easy, but that it would be worth it in the long run. I prayed and asked God to be in my life and to forgive all my sins. I felt fresh and new.
There are moments when I have wanted to give up and do what my friends are doing. But with God, I know I'm always accepted and always loved

As time passed, I realized what they meant when they said it wouldn't be easy. When people find out I go to church, sometimes they treat me dif­ferently—something as simple as not inviting me over because they want to smoke or drink, or even making fun of me. That's hard. I've always wanted to fit in and feel accepted.

There are moments when I have wanted to give up and do what my friends are doing. But with God, I know I'm always accepted and always loved. I can be myself, because God's love isn't a part-time feeling.

When I grew out of camp age, I started going to youth retreats at Scotian Glen twice a year. Then I was asked to put my name in as a counsellor. It was the best thing I've ever done. I love see­ing the kids learn and grow each day and every year. My goal is to give them a fun time and lead them to Christ, or help them grow in faith. I tell them that following the Lord will be the best deci­sion of their lives, even though it won't always be easy.

In my life, Scotian Glen Camp has brought me closer to God more than anything else has.

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