Snow Derby with Berean Council

In the chilly woods of Beamsville, Timothy Dykstra had his first anxious brush with leadership. The St. Catharines boy, 11, joined about 150 other children in learning the art of winter survival. For the first time, though, he was captain of his group of lads as they made fires, shot off BB guns and learned to survive in the cold outdoors. “It’s my first year and I’m not the oldest,” he said. “It was hard for me, having to lead everyone.” But he found a lot to like – particularly making a fire. “Everyone gets to work together. You all have a certain job.”

The outdoor Snow Derby drew in several Cadet organizations – all members of a Christian group, the Berean Council – for a day in the snow at Beamsville’s Kinsmen Park. The groups of boys were broken into teams of five.

Brian Kemper, head counselor for the Vineland Cadets, said the youths rotated between eight activity stations. They built fires, learned to use knives and axes, learned first aid and compass skills, mastered winter camping and shelter building, and even worked on their marksmanship with BB guns. “The idea,” Brian said, “is to instill them with a sense of leadership – and to bring them closer to God. The kids are very excited about it,” he said. He said the boys will be able to use the skills they learn to help others. “We didn’t just do this because it’s a fun day out for the boys. Though there is that.”

Dykstra marveled at being part of the derby. “It’s kind of neat, seeing all these boys. They all come from different churches, which is huge,” he said.

Fenwick resident Nathan Kemphuis, 13, said he enjoyed learning to make fire because every member of his team had a job. And he said he enjoyed being part of a team. “You’re around everyone. You have groups from all the churches,” he said. And in the woods, “you can definitely see God a lot better than if you’re inside doing video games and stuff.”