cycling · fitness

Biking to church camp: Building a community that cares

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On arrival at camp this year. Thanks to a tailwind, we arrived first!
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Mallory and me arriving at camp a couple of years ago

My church holds an annual family camp at a retreat centre just outside the city. Camp is a nice mix of “do your own thing” or join in on group activities such as music, crafts, and hiking.

You sleep in bunk houses with four sets of bunk beds per room. This year though my daughter Mallory and I got to sleep in the quiet house since there weren’t any loud teenagers with us. We’d been in the bunks since the loud toddler and crying baby years.

The main building has a big wrap around porch with rocking chairs and there are well marked hiking trails that run through the property.

For the past few years Mallory and I have been riding to camp. When I started training seriously a few years ago I was reluctant to go to church camp. Weekends were for long rides and long runs. But then I decided to combine church camp with running and biking. Ride down there Friday, trail run Saturday, ride back Sunday.

It reminds me of when I was chair of my academic department and would schedule department retreats about 40 km outside the city. Perfect distance for arriving by bike. Later when the university organized summer two day retreats for academic leaders I’d bike there too. It was more like 80 km, definitely required an early start, and again I’d send my bags with someone else.

Riding to camp combines a few things I really like: Building community (each year the number of people who’ve ridden has grown); making exercise part of life, not some extra thing that competes for your time; caring for the environment, sure some people have to drive but not everyone needs to.

It’s an easy distance, just 45 km, and pretty much anyone can do it. It’s also on quiet country roads and the advantage of biking to camp is that lots of other people who are driving can carry your stuff and you’ve got a full day to recover before riding back. It’s not as far as Port Stanley, where the feminist fitness bloggers biked a few weeks ago and there’s no long downhill to the water. I love getting people who don’t normally ride their bikes outside the city to experience how quiet the country roads can be. This year 8 people biked one way or both to church camp. I’m hoping for an even larger group next year.

Oh, and there’s an ice cream store at the 2/3 there point. What could be better?

It’s a nice ride. See https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/810406339.

There’s some of photos of camp below and lots more here.

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