I wanted you to know more about the summer camp pastors that will be speaking in our chapels this summer.
Matt (Newb) Naismith
Matt Naismith lives with his wife, Andrea, in Guelph, Ontario, and serves as the Teaching Pastor for Student and Young Adult Ministries at Lakeside Church.
Summer 2012 was Matt’s first experience at Camp Widjiitiwin as Camp Pastor and for that reason he was named Newb! He loved his experience at Widjiitiwin, especially the community and family environment it promotes. It did not take long for Matt to feel right at home and this is why he can’t wait to get back here this summer.
Matt grew up knowing about Jesus and began a relationship with him at the age of 5 but it was not until Matt’s first year at University that this relationship became his own. He realized that for any relationship to flourish it would involve daily communication and time, two things that had been void in that relationship in the past. Being like Christ and imitating him, is Matt’s goal now and while he admits it is always hard, its something he is learning and growing in more and more every single day.
Matt’s favorite camp memory is from TNT Week One last year when a student stood up on a bench during one of Matt’s message and started dancing. It was bizarre but the kind of flare Matt loves. The reason Matt never went to camp as a child is because he feared leaving his parents for a week. He eventually grew out of this but feels a special connection with the campers who show up and have the same fears he once had.
Rob (Sad Sac) Cripps
It’s hard to believe, but I have been coming to Widjiitiwin since 1985!! First as a camper, then as a staff member, and now as a camp pastor!! Since 2008 I have been ministering in the city of Toronto as a lead pastor, preaching the word of God to the city. One of the reasons I feel so deeply called to preach is my time spent at camp. Widjiitiwin has invested so much into me and now I love to come back and invest into the staff and campers every summer. My favourite camp memories are cabin devo’s and praying with the other staff. My favourite camp stories? Well for that you will need to come to chapel!!
The bible teaches that God created us in His image and that we were created with the gifts we were given to glorify God! When I’m not preaching, I’m training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and ministering to the Jiu Jitsu community and reaching out to the communities in Toronto. There is no greater call than to share the love of Christ with those lost in darkness and my prayer is that you would be challenged to do just that using the unique and wonderful gifts God has given you. I look forward to chillin’ with you all soon!!
Martti (Boomer) Pajunen
· Where do you work? Live? Live in Kitchener and work throughout central Ontario
· How long have you been coming to Widji (include years as camper, staff and camp pastor)? I have been on staff and a camp pastor (off and on) since 1985. My 3 kids have been campers, SALTers, and on staff in different roles
· What about Widji continues to attract you to come back? I enjoy connecting with the campers and camp staff and getting to see campers have new experiences at their week at Widji
· Tell us a little about your Jesus story/journey. I became a follower of Jesus as a child, having been raised in a family that valued faith in God. I was raised with godly mentors and youth workers, and Pastors. I have had some involvement in ministering to young people since I was 15 years old. My current ministry focuses on serving people who do not go to a church, but need a minister to conduct a wedding, funeral or new life celebration.
· What is your favourite camp memory? I met a beautiful woman named Trish at camp – she eventually became my wife. It’s hard to top that. I have many more fun and meaningful memories of camp and love to see kids coming to camp to create their own memories that will stay with them for a lifetime.
· Something unique about you that campers, staff or parents would connect with. I am writing a book called The Thirteeniities: igniting greatness and goodness in 13 year olds.
Shane (Spokes) Pickel
I am the Campus Pastor for LifeSpring Christian Fellowship in Waterloo. Our family lives in Kitchener, ON. I was a camper at Widji for just one summer. I was never on staff at Widji but I did work at MBC for 4 summers in the kitchen and then down at the Marina. It has been my pleasure to be a camp pastor at Widji for the last 10 or so years. Widji has been a tremendous blessing to our whole family.
It has definitely been an awesome opportunity and joy being asked back each summer and I make it a priority to carve out time in the summer to be a part of the team there. Probably the biggest things that excite me about Camp Widjiitiwin are the connections and relations I have built over the years with the staff and campers; being a part of a ministry that is well run and spiritually tuned to give each camper and staff member a truly amazing Kingdom experience; and lastly, the opportunity I have presenting the raw truth of God’s love and in witnessing teens passionate about connecting their story to God’s in an environment that cultivates the courage to do so.
My Jesus story started at Widji where I was moved to follow Christ by my counselor. I was 11 and I can remember my counselor ‘Higgy’ and his desire to please God being a new believer himself. Since then God has been consistently wooing me closer to Himself and my passion, even to this day, is re-fueled when I return to camp. I believe it was that experience with Higgy that made me realize that a relationship with God isn’t about religion but it’s about trust, vulnerability, humility, honestly and courage to live how Jesus lived … Always living the Good News of what God intended life to be like with my family, friends and neighbours. Today I am more passionate than ever about journeying and walking with people who love God and are active kingdom advancers; others that are seeking Him by asking big questions and then individuals that have been either blinded or hurt by life and religion.
My favourite camp memory changes every summer as I have the privilege coming back and immersing myself and my family in a ministry that continues to grow in so many directions. I don’t just have one story but dozens!
I guess one thing that helps me connect with others is the fact that I don’t have time to minimize where God is already at work. I am pretty open, try hard not to be judgmental and recognize that there are no favorites. Also, I’m a little crazy, love to laugh and I love to have fun. God is awesome.
Dwayne (Juice) Francois
· Where do you work? Live? Oshawa, Calvary Baptist Church.
· How long have you been coming to Widji (include years as camper, staff and camp pastor)?I’ve been coming to Widji for three years as a camp pastor.
· What about Widji continues to attract you to come back? We love the partnerships with the community kids you are reaching out to.
· Tell us a little about your Jesus story/journey. Believed as child. Struggled as a teen, but serving in camp ministries help me build convictions. I thought my life was heading in one direction when God allowed some pain into my life which moved me on to a different path and resulted in a greater faith in his presence.
· What is your favourite camp memory? At Widji – first ever dance party I attended and trading moves with the guys.
· Something unique about you that campers staff or parents would connect with. I love music and sports, I have slight fear of heights, but not of flying. French fries are my weakness.
Darren (Dux) Johnson
· Where do you work? Live? New Life Fellowship Baptist Church, Innisfil
· How long have you been coming to Widji (include years as camper, staff and camp pastor)? This will be my 3rd year as camp pastor.
· What about Widji continues to attract you to come back? The ongoing efforts Widji has to make an eternal impact in the life of kids.
· Tell us a little about your Jesus story/journey. I grew up in a pastors home and accepted Christ at a very young age. I never questioned my faith in Jesus but did question whether or not I’d ever want to be a pastor like my father. After training in the Sports Medicine field at the University of Western Ontario God clearly called me into full-time ministry beginning with Youth For Christ, a journey that has resulted in being the lead pastor of New Life Baptist. Having the opportunity to teach God’s Word on a weekly basis is truly an honor.
· What is your favourite camp memory? Hearing the kids praise and worship God at chapel!
· Something unique about you that campers staff or parents would connect with. I have a 2nd degree black belt in karate. As a kid and into my adult life I loved teaching karate. I even had the honor of teaching Paul Henderson a few “basic moves.” Today, I love spending time with my family.
Mike (Cist) Kleinhuis
· I’m the youth pastor at Hughson St. Baptist Church which is found in the North End of Hamilton, Ontario.
· How long have you been coming to Widji (include years as camper, staff and camp pastor)? This will be my third year as a camp pastor at Widji.
· What about Widji continues to attract you to come back? Giving the youth of the North End a chance to escape and get away, and enjoy camp life for a week each summer/
· Tell us a little about your Jesus story/journey. I grew up in a Christian home with two wonderful, loving parents who consistently pointed me towards Christ. I accepted Christ at a young age, but really began to understand and take my faith seriously when I was 19 at Bible College. Since then I’ve been striving to know Him better, serve Him better, and be more like Him each day. Some days are better than others.
· What is your favourite camp memory? Widji ball ranks up there. Sneaking up on deer. Mornings by the water preparing my talks. Witnessing “firsts” by campers is always a highlight!
· Something unique about you that campers staff or parents would connect with. I sing – often, and about everything.