If you’ve ever been to the Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch in Chilliwack you’ll know it’s a popular and busy place. But in the middle of July, when it’s not yet open for the season, it was quiet and restful with the deep green corn stalks rising against the blue backdrop of the nearby Vedder mountains. This was the day we held a picnic for our Parent Support Groups and Children’s Day Camp. The owners, the Bruinsma’s and the Taekema’s, opened their doors for our exclusive use so we could hold a picnic and fun day for families we support and the kids that go to our summer day camp.
The Corn Maze is renowned for the variety and inventiveness of the activities on offer to visitors. Each of the features is unique and draws you to participate. The big, yellow jumping pillow was a favourite with kids and adults alike. So too were the basketballs, swings, rubber duckie races, and go-carts. Whether it was chatting up the ever-curious goats, resting on a funky bench or splashing in a water bowl – there was something for all ages.
At lunchtime, people gathered under the shelter where Joyce Vander Hoek, Bethesda’s Family Support Services Director welcomed everyone. Rodney Wiebe, our Home Share Coordinator, masterfully turned out BBQ hot dogs and smokies for the crowd of approximately 60.
It was a fine picnic, with lots of variety in things to do, a chance to re-unite with friends and meet new people. Importantly for families it was a welcome treat to have a place to relax and feel safe. This is what is often easy to overlook, just how much people appreciate opportunities like this. As one parent put it, ‘sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere where no one will look at your daughter twice or ask weird questions that you don’t feel like answering’. This was just such a place.
It’s easy to forget just how challenging and daunting these sorts of interactions can be for a parent. So it is deeply humbling to see comments like the one posted on social media by one of the moms, ‘my daughter has been a part of this amazing organization called Bethesda…she gets to go to day camp two times a week (goes sailing, horse riding, water slides, Science World, a bird sanctuary). Bethesda threw this picnic for all families at the Corn Maze in Chilliwack. It was shut down just for families that have kids using Bethesda services. It was amazing to just BE”.
Her story reminds us of the importance of our ministry. We believe that all of us are only capable of thriving when we thrive together. The inclusive world we strive for, makes room for people of all abilities so we can all grow together. By creating relationships with people from all walks of life, we can access the richness of true community.