Brandon took a moment to interview our STEP male mentor, Kirk. Enjoy getting to know one of the many faces of Salem Acres!
Brandon: So, let's get started then. Hi Kirk.
Kirk: Heyo Brandon.
B: It feels kind of weird saying hi because we've known each other for a while, but, you know, interview policy I guess.
K: Yeah, I know right?
B: Well, let's jump right in. How did you start here? How did you first find out about camp? How did you come?
K: I found out about camp through a guy named Tim Lau. He came to my elementary school, we did a thing called SEARCH every Friday night, I believe it was. And we would basically play basketball, we would play any sports, anything along that sort, and then afterwards we would have a worship session where we would do the songs that we do now at camp. We would just sing them and sing them, and then afterwards he would be like: "Okay, now we are going to do a message". And I heard Tim Lau speak every week from grades 4 to 6. All the time with him talking about this camp, Salem Acres that he goes to, all these different things. And so when I was of age to go at 7 I came to camp immediately. And so I saw him, and I saw Faith and I saw all these different people that were around us, and that's how I came to camp. Through a thing called SEARCH.
B: Alright! Sounds like that was a pretty good program if it got you to come here.
B: What's your favorite part of camp?
K: Oh... my favorite part of camp? I'd say it's either between ... either sticks, the free time in between with the boys to hang out, or the campfires, because those are the times when the boys can get somewhat crazy, when they see the fire and start throwing stuff. It's just such a good chill time to be around the boys.
B: When they start throwing stuff it's such a good chill time?
K: It's like, the most fun part is like "Don't do that. Throw that other part in, that was really funny. Do that."
B: Alright... I don't know about you, but I've noticed that you've changed a little bit over the years that I've seen you here.
B: And I imagine part of that's due to the camp. How do you feel that camp has kind of... affected you personally? Any lessons you've learned here or how you've kind of grown as a person since coming here?
K: Oh yeah. One of the things that I've definitely noticed is camp has definitely helped sculpt my faith and allow me to realize kind of the mold that I'm supposed to have. There's a thing of... like... when you come here how, as we heard Wendy say during staff training, that God is thick here, it's like you can just have a presence, you can feel it. It helped me as a kid and a leader how to have my own faith besides following others faith or getting someone to tell me how my faith is. Understanding that Jesus died for me, so I can accept that and be like "He died specifically for me, and my sins". And it's allowed me to understand how to... basically... live as a Christian in a way that I'm not ashamed, and that I can tell my story, tell other people about Jesus without hesitation. It's also allowed me to grow my character as a people person, it allows me to, whether it be to make them laugh, make them smile, make them feel comforted, make them feel like family. Like I said last year, it feels like family. And this has allowed me to understand how to be family to those who maybe have a different perspective on it, and as well as with my own family. With allowing them to... to treat them differently, to treat them with more respect with more love and more understanding, with patience... and that's all thanks to camp. Everything.
B: That's really great. Alright... so, from what I understand, by which I mean as you've told me because we talk,
B: you're in charge of a lot of parts of the STEP program.
K: I am. I am the Male STEP Mentor.
B: Yeah. Would you mind, just for those at home who don't know what that means at all, just go into a brief explanation of the STEP program and what it is you do?
K: Yeah, so STEP. The acronym stands for Servant Training, Engaging People. *whispering* I can't believe I got that right.
K: But it's a program where we have 13 to 14 year olds, and we get as many as we can have, I think the most is 10, and we basically train them how to be a leader. We train them whether it be as a Cabin Leader, Activities, anything along that sense where we show them the behind the scenes stuff, whether it be dish pit and janitorial work, taking out garbage, helping to set up for activities, all these kinds of things are all things that leaders do at camp. So, like, we do the dish pit sense of what the Cabin Leaders has done with cleaning the bathrooms and doing dish pit and taking out garbage like Cabin Leaders have always done and janitorial work of sanitizing things and fixing other stuff as maintenance, and helping the activities leaders. Wherever they need help, we help them however they need. We do it as a two week program where at the end of it we go on an out-trip. The first two weeks we go on an out-trip with these kids for a weekend, and we go out to Banff and kinda just walk around and see God's creation, all throughout the woods. Then we have another program after that, just before Junior Teen starts we get another group of kids come in and we teach them again the same thing of how to be a leader, how to do the behind the scenes work, where maybe people don't recognize you as much or don't see what you're doing. But when you are doing stuff that they do see they appreciate it because they know that you are doing something good, as well as they don't have to do it.
K: So, they are happy that someone else is doing it. It's a very important program to have. It's something to be able to show kids who are younger how to be a leader with a servant heart, when people don't want to do a whole lot of work when it doesn't have any benefits behind it, you could say, but this program has the benefit of learning how to have that servant-ship, servant heart, to help others, to be a people pleaser, to be basically God's messenger boy and tell them about who you are and how to be a light to these kids, a light to these people because you are shining, throughout all this, all the behind the scenes stuff. It's all coming together and showing us what we can do.
B: That is like, a really thorough description.
K: That's probably the first time I've ever described it. *Laughs*
K: That's the best I can do.
B: Well, thank you so much for taking the time out Kirk.
B: Keep doing the good work with those kids I guess.
K: Thank you, I will try and make the right *almost yelling directly into the mic* STEP *normal voice* ... in the right direction.
B: *Groans* Alright.