BY MARTINA SOBEY
I grew up attending Camp Seggie as a camper and also spent my teenage summers working in various roles including a few summers on the leadership team. I also returned to work there for a summer more recently.
This article is no surprise to me whatsoever as it is not actually a new conflict. I believe the conflict at hand here is not actually between previous staff and Camp Seggie, it is not with the directors or the present contract, the real debate here is between individuals and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Working for Camp Seggie is not simply a choice to work at a summer camp or even to work with children, it is a choice to serve God and to love children in the name of the Church of Jesus Christ. Staff members, upon applying to Camp Seggie, are not applying simply for a summer job, they are knowingly applying to a Christian camp founded upon Christian values - values that have not been invented in the last 10 years but rather have been held onto for ages and generations of faith, specifically the Christian faith.
When I worked at Camp Seggie, it was no secret that we as counsellors were serving the mission statement of camp, which was well known and celebrated. I cannot quote it word for word but I was under the impression that Camp Seggie exists primarily as an extension of the Christian Church to show God’s love to children and to give every person a chance to know God and to learn about faith in Jesus Christ.
They work towards this by creating an accepting, fun and safe environment for all campers, churched or not, gay or not. But it should be no secret that the goal of camp is to share the Gospel, it is the exact same goal and mission that drives the entire Christian Church worldwide.
Camp Seggie did not invent a new policy nor is it any different from churches. The same standards (whether you agree with them or not) would apply if you were to seek employment at most if not all Christian churches. You can shine a light towards Camp Seggie and hope to expose its “strict or dated” policies, but shine that same light on any church and you will find the same thing.
If Camp Seggie exists and functions within the greater Church and hopes to share the Gospel of Jesus with children, can you blame them for wanting their staff to adhere to that very Gospel they labour to share? It doesn’t rest on Bob Terpstra’s shoulders, or even on the board of Directors for Camp Seggie.
Camp Seggie is one small part of the Church, it isn’t doing anything more “extreme” than the whole church. If an evangelical Jewish camp was only hiring staff that adhered to strict Jewish customs and beliefs would we have this same argument? It’s not the Camp Seggie staff contract that is offending people; it’s actually the Bible, the Gospel, the morality the Church teaches, the words Jesus spoke. That’s where the conflict is.
This is a well loved and well run Christian camp, seeking to love and welcome all children from all backgrounds and give them a safe place to question and learn their own faith. It is a Christian camp that doesn’t pick and choose what kind of campers it accepts. Does it adhere to Christian principles and ask its staff to do so? Yes. It always has. It likely will continue to do so as its mission is to share the Christian message of love and faith in Jesus.
If you don’t agree or believe in the Gospel of Jesus, Camp Seggie isn’t going to shun you or reject you, but yes as a Christian camp supported by the Christian church they are likely only going to hire people that are living that lifestyle. Is that really a surprise?
- Martina Sobey, Charlottetown is a former Camp Seggie camper who spent teenage summers working in various roles at the camp, including a few summers on the leadership team.