By Aidan Morton-Ninomiya, grade 9 student from St. Jacobs Mennonite Church

Aidan.When the idea of OMMC was pitched to me at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, I was immediately excited. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I got there, I knew it would be awesome.

In the hallway, there was the plan for the two weeks of camp, describing what we’d be doing every hour of every day for the next twelve days. Each day started with a chapel full of all the best hymns, and was followed by and hour and a half of masterclass, where I had my first experience of musical improvisation, and got to learn so much about different kind of music, not only from my instructors, but also from the incredibly musically talented campers at OMMC.

We’d later have lunch in the Grebel cafeteria, where I had my first Grebel cookie, and it did not disappoint. After that we had recreation, where we did activities ranging from classic tag, to having to chase our counselors around and try to smash an egg taped to their arm. We got practice time after that to practice our own music or for the upcoming concerts either by ourselves or with friends.

One of my favorite parts of camp though was the groups that we met up with after supper. We read some scripture, and then discussed it with a small group of maybe five or six, where some of the best conversations I’ve ever had happened. Campfire was always a great experience, where we got to sing these wonderful songs that most of us knew by heart, and occasionally had one counselor’s reflections of their own lives, which was something we, as young teenagers had the opportunity to listen to and get good advice about our lives, spiritually or socially.

Now, OMMC is not just advice and scripture! It’s also a whole camp lip dub! We started learning the lyrics to “You make My Dreams Come True”, and later that day filmed the whole thing in our 80s outfits, and ending with a shot of all of us in the Grebel chapel full of balloons everywhere! It was awesome!

Warming up.

We had many performances, the best of which was the final performance, where we performed Jesus Christ Superstar, which is my friend -Micah Neufeld- and my favourite musical and it was so fun! I also got to perform a musical improvisation, only about eight days after having done it for the first time!

Now, I say hi to all the people I met at OMMC if I see them at church or choir or school, or maybe just at the store! I still talk with my friends about all the fun things I’ve done at OMMC, and I’m totally going to go back every year I can until I get too old!

Rachael DriedigerOntario Mennonite Music Camp (OMMC) is a two-week camp hosted at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, offering teenagers aged 12-16 an opportunity to explore both music and faith.

A typical day at camp is dynamic with a range of activities from choir to recreation to Bible studies to preparing a musical! Much of the day is spent making music together in choir, small ensembles, or around evening campfires. Everyone arrives at camp playing a variety of instruments at different levels, and it is amazing to watch how quickly the musical, choir songs, and ensemble pieces come together in only two weeks.

Besides a love for music, OMMC campers and staff find connection through their common faith. In addition to the morning chapel service, one hour each evening is devoted to staff-led small group Bible studies. Some campers and staff have a Mennonite connection, and others do not, but regardless, everyone shares a common Christian faith that allows us to explore scriptures together and grow in our faith.

Both Grebel and OMMC place a large emphasis on community. Whether you’re new to camp or a seasoned camper, OMMC is a welcoming community; it doesn’t take long before you get to know one another and develop long-lasting friendships.

students play violinThe sense of community doesn’t stop at Grebel’s doors, but extends to include serving our broader community. One way this is accomplished is through volunteering. OMMC campers have frequently volunteered at Mennonite Central Committee’s warehouse in Kitchener by helping to sort items to be sent overseas, and by tying quilt tops that volunteers have graciously donated. Another avenue for service is through leading Sunday morning worship at a local Mennonite church, where campers and staff plan the entire service, from the music right down to the message.

One disappointment of 2020 was not being able to attend camp in-person; however the resourceful OMMC group put their heads together and offered a one-day camp called “OMMC in a Box”. Campers received a box of supplies in the mail, containing everything from songbooks to snacks to a camp T-shirt. Although an online version of camp could not include all the usual traditions, there was one OMMC tradition that even COVID could not stop – wacky utensil meal! It was fun to connect with one another over Zoom and very entertaining to see the wacky utensils in use! 

We are thankful for the impact of OMMC on our lives, and we look forward to seeing what summer 2021 holds!

~ Rachael Driediger

OMMC is planning an exciting, musical two weeks of in-person camp, August 15-27, 2021. Registrations will be open on March 1st. OMMC will follow COVID protocols and take guidance from Public Health so no fees will be collected until May at the earliest.

students cheer on stage