Monday, April 4, 2011

Boot Camp

Boot Camp.  Memories flood my mind at the mention of those two words.  Some good, some bad, some funny, some not so much.  Out of curiosity I googled it, and found a definition for "boot camp" at  There they tell me that boot camp is

1: a navy or marine corps camp for basic training
2: a disciplinary facility or program in which young offenders are forced to participate in a rigidly structured routine

Many of you know that in the summer of 1996 I went to Ukraine with Teen Missions International (TMI).  Part of that summer included a 2 week stint at their boot camp in Florida.  Now, some of you might read "Florida" and think, "Riiiiiiiiigggggghhhhtttt... 'boot camp'."  Don't let the location fool you.  TMI boot camp is no walk in the park, day on the beach, or fun in the sun.  It doesn't really fall into either of the two definitions listed above, but it definitely has aspects of each one in it.  There was training, it was highly disciplined, and followed a rigidly structured routine.  It's been a few years but from what I remember, we were woken up at 6:00am and from there the typical boot camp day included running the obstacle course, devotions and instruction in many different things (brick laying, carpentry skills, evangelism, puppetry).  We were always ready to fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day (I think it was at 9:00pm).  I believe that the reason for much of boot camp is to bring kids together as a team, teach and train them for their summer work, and to push through much of the culture shock of going overseas before the teams even leave North America.  It wasn't the most fun or enjoyable experience of my life but I think that it did accomplish the intent of TMI boot camp.

I mention this experience from my past because we recently went through a day that could fall roughly into that same category of "preparation for future service".  The plan was simple.  We were going to get up early on Friday morning, pile into the van and spend the day in familial bliss as we traveled west through the mountains to the small town of Vanderhoof, BC.  The day started off exactly according to plan.  We left Three Hills 2 minutes after we had been planning to (7:02am).  Let's face it, with a family of 5 to get ready, 2 minutes late is right on time (maybe even early).  The drive to Red Deer and then west through Rocky Mountain House was great.  The kids were behaving well and I was having visions of a tiny Derksen utopia encompassed within our van, glowing, smiling and floating through the mountains that day.  Alas, it was not to be.

We turned north at Saskatchewan river crossing and started towards Jasper when my tiny Derksen utopia was shattered.  From the back seat of the van came a small voice, "Mommy, I think I'm going to throw up."  Those 8 small words created a hole in the balloon that was my euphoric family travel experience.  We passed our small garbage container back "Just in case", and several minutes later heard other, less agreeable noises emanating from the back seat.  At that moment any remaining glimmers of euphoria vanished.  Thanks to a garbage can with a sturdy airtight lid, the unpleasantness was contained and we continued on down the road.  We stopped in Jasper for lunch (only 4 of us ate) and continued west across into BC and out of Jasper National Park.  Things were just starting to look up a bit again when we cruised into McBride, a mere 2 hours out of Prince George.  Any dreams of recapturing the utopia bubble vanished as a certain sign came into view on the highway.  The sign said "Long haired, freaky looking people need not apply."  Ok, the sign didn't say that, but what the sign did say was enough to change our plans for the next day and a half.  The sign said "Highway Closed".  We learned that because of an accident the highway would be closed at least until 6:00 that night.  We got a hotel room while there was still one to be had and then we waited for the highway to open.  Sure enough, at 6:00pm we received word that the road would be closed until at least 3:00 the next afternoon. 

Waking up the next morning, I checked and sure enough the road was still closed.  We made the decision to go the long way around.  This turned our 2 hour trip to Prince George into an 8 hour trip to Prince George.  11 hours later we pulled into my Uncle & Aunts place near Burns Lake.  Yes, it was a long day, but I sure enjoyed that drive.  The beauty of the Rocky Mountains surpasses anything else that I've ever seen.  We found out later that the highway had indeed opened that afternoon, but there were no regrets on our part.  We made it to Burns Lake and had a great day on Sunday as we shared about Mission Aviation Fellowship with the Island Gospel Fellowship church there.  Maybe it was training for future overseas missions, maybe not.  We're just thankful for safe travels and for the chance to share our vision and make some new friends.


  1. Oh come on, Boot Camp wasn't that bad! :) I survived the snakes and spiders and falling in the slough EVERY SINGLE DAY. Anyone could do it if I can. In fact I'm hoping that if we make it to Florida this spring/summer that I can find a day to take the kids out there.
    I am happy to hear that you got to Burns Lake and your visit went well.

  2. No, boot camp wasn't that bad. I never said that it was though. I said it definitely wasn't the most fun or enjoyable experience of my life, which is true. :)

  3. I am a little sad that I wasn't home to be able to visit with you all but am glad to hear you had a good time :)