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Jul18WedFriendships keep Vanessa Cormier coming back to Salvation Army camp year after year. July 18, 2018 by Kristin Ostensen
When Vanessa Cormier arrives on the shores of lac l’Achigan this summer, it will be her fifth year at The Salvation Army’s camp, but her first as a staff member.
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- Faith & Friends
While there are many camps she could go to in Quebec, there’s a reason she keeps coming back to Camp lac l’Achigan.
“It’s definitely the people,” Vanessa says. “I’ve been to other camps where it’s run like a business. The Salvation Army is different than any other camp because the people care. Everyone is there to serve God and share the message of His love with the kids.”
Now 16 years old, Vanessa first attended Camp lac l’Achigan, which is located in Saint-Hippolyte, Que., about 45 kilometres north of Montreal, when she was 12.
“I liked the atmosphere and the location—especially the lake!” she says.
After two years as a camper, she attended lac l’Achigan’s leaders-in-training camp, a week-long program where participants receive in-class instruction and practical experience in being a counsellor, chore staff and kitchen staff.
Vanessa clicked with the kitchen role right away. “I liked the teamwork,” she says. “We were all helping each other out to get the job done.”
Last summer, she put that experience to good use, taking on a role in the camp’s kitchen as a volunteer.
“It was only supposed to be for a couple of weeks, and I ended up staying there for more than a month,” she smiles.
While at camp, she formed a connection with Lieutenants Indira Albert and Juan Chirinos, Salvation Army pastors who oversee the Army’s camp and youth programs in Quebec.
“Indira and Juan were really nice,” Vanessa says. “They managed everyone like they were your friend—they were there for you. The work atmosphere was good, and I enjoyed the devotion times when we learned about God.”
“Vanessa was a great help last summer,” says Lieutenant Indira. “She is responsible and respectful. She worked well with the team and she was always ready to help and to go beyond her assigned tasks to assist others.
“We saw Vanessa grow in her confidence by the end of summer,” Lieutenant Indira continues. “It’s a great privilege to have her back as kitchen staff this summer.”
Back home, Vanessa attends The Salvation Army’s Montreal Citadel, where she and her family have been members for the past five years.
“My sister and I were being home-schooled at the time, so my mom was looking for a way for us to join a band,” Vanessa explains. “We had friends who were attending Montreal Citadel and they suggested that we try their band.”
After her sister started lessons at The Salvation Army, their friends invited Vanessa’s family to come to church. “We were already looking for a church,” Vanessa says. “We went and we liked it there, so we stayed.”
Vanessa is now a member of Montreal Citadel’s junior band and Blast of Brass, a group for adults and more advanced musicians.
Being at camp has made Vanessa’s experience at Montreal Citadel all the better. “I made some friends from my church that I didn’t have before, which is great!” she says.
Vanessa looks forward to spending another seven weeks at Camp lac l’Achigan this summer—her home away from home.