History

The BC Camping Conference: A ‘Linked Conference’ co-sponsored by the BCCA and FCC

As far as we know, the BC Camping Conference is unique in North America. It is a ‘linked conference,’ co-sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Camps (FCC-BC) and the BC Camping Association (BCCA). The two organizations work together to create one event that serves the unique needs of both memberships.

The first joint conferences were held at Squeah (1995) and Kawkawa (1996). For a variety of reasons, the two organizations did separate conferences again in 1997, but participants missed being together. Further discussion led to the adoption of a new format format in 1998. The ‘linked conference’ has been very successful, and over the years, the BCCC has grown to include up to 180 delegates from 50 camps.

Throughout the 1980’s, Christian Camping International (CCI-BC) ran a thriving annual conference, but the BCCA Camping Conference was faltering. Just as it is today, the majority of BC’s Christian camps were also members of BCCA. Because budgets and time constraints are always tight, many camps felt that they couldn’t afford the time and expense to participate in two conferences. For a variety of reasons, a majority of those camps that were members of both organizations chose to attend the CCI-BC event and pass on the BCCA event. The executive of BCCA approached CCI-BC (now known as the FCC-BC) to see if the two organizations could join forces.

After much discussion and some trial and error, the idea of a ‘linked conference’ was born. Today, two representatives from BCCA and two representatives from FCC plus one representative from the host facility form the Conference Committee. The first 36 hours of the conference is run by the BCCA (they pick the speaker, set the content and hold their AGM) and the second 36 hours is run by the FCC (they pick the speaker, set the content and hold their AGM). The workshop tracks are organized by the committee, and except for a very small number of sessions aimed specifically at topics for Christian camps (still the bulk of the camps and delegates in attendance each year), the majority of the workshops have no faith content (33 of 36 sessions in 2015 – a pretty typical number).

In this “linked” format, the BCCA serves its mandate and membership by providing inspirational and thoughtful speakers to challenge and equip those serving at their member camps (faith based or otherwise) while the FCC serves its mandate and membership by providing speakers to encourage and strengthen the faith of those serving at their member camps.

The change in style and content after the first three plenary sessions is by design, and it is understood to be a reflection of our decision to work together in a linked conference format. Typically delegates will grab a coffee and network if a particular session doesn’t interest them: there is always a lot to process and new people to get to know!

We have a great thing going between BCCA and FCC, and over the years we have built strong relationships with one another. Our 2014 theme was ‘Better Together’ and we believe that to be true on many levels.

The Conference Committee looks forward to having you join us this year as we celebrate camping in its various forms and work together to build vibrant and professional camping industry in BC!

– Paul Bailey, March 2015