Summer camp of faiths 

Whistler minister brings together youth from many communities

Whether mountains have souls, if reincarnation works can you come back as a toothbrush and how exactly do you achieve world peace? Just some of the questions posed by youth as part of a recent local interfaith summer camp that attracted 20 teens from Baha’i, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim communities.

William Roberts, a Whistler Village Church minister, organized the gathering. He says the weeklong leadership "celebration" that explored the theme of environment within different religions is an opportunity for the group to understand their own faith by exploring others.

"It will help deepen their own sense of their belief, faith, sense of spirituality and out of that be open to others," Roberts said.

Teens from Vancouver, Whistler and Pemberton got to stay at Brew Creek Lodge, 15 kilometres south of Whistler Village, and make day trips to meet with leaders from Christian, Baha’i, Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish communities to discuss religious tenets. They also got to have some fun outdoors. Learning about the night sky from local star enthusiast Don Brett, visiting the Brackendale Eagle Museum, and learning about Whistler’s bear population were just some of the activities planned.

Casey Dick-Wyatt, 17, is from Mount Currie. She says learning details about the Sikh religion, like the correct pronunciation of Sikh ("sick"), at the Squamish temple on Third Avenue has been a good experience. "You get to sit on the floor and just relax and sing," she said, adding that she wanted to attend in order to meet new people from different faiths and cultures.

Whistler resident Tala Clark, 14, heard about the camp the day before it started from a friend. "I just wanted to learn about other religions and stuff," she said. "I’ve learned a lot about other religions that I didn’t even know about before that I didn’t expect to find out about." Although she’s lived in Whistler for nine years she said she’s looking forward to heading up Blackcomb with the group and hiking around the glacier.

The week experience was funded by an anonymous $20,000 donation from a local resident. It’s hoped the gathering will inspire the teens with a positive attitude toward environmental advocacy, Roberts said.

"I do find environmentalists often get burnt out and angry. I’m hoping they (the teens) will get a sense of how to be spiritually renewed and have their own sense of being more optimistic and more inspired," Roberts said, "It’s going to be their earth in 20, 30 years and they’re going to have to find all the resources they can to keep a vibrant, healthy place for everyone."

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