Meet Mark and Mary.
Parents of six beautiful children ages 2 - 21, their lives are full of vision, challenges, and service. Mark grew up in rural South Carolina alongside the Stoll family, right next door to Stoll Industries.
Today, you’ll find them nestled along the shores of Beaver Lake in Ontario, serving the Aboriginal people of Canada at Beaver Lake Camp, a division of Northern Youth Programs. Founded by Mary’s parents in 1967, Northern Youth Programs originated to minister to the spiritual, emotional, and social needs of Aboriginal youth. Their programs include camps, retreats, and teaching programs. As a camp and counseling center, Beaver Lake Camp offers First Nations youth and families summer camps, retreats, and counseling. In this setting, lives and family relationships are changed for the better. Beaver Lake Camp provides a place where people can learn about God, receive spiritual and emotional healing, and build healthy relationships in their communities.
Canada is rich in wildlife and Mark's love for nature photography is one of the ways that he recharges. This image was captured only one day after the loon chick hatched.
Typically, summer at Beaver Lake Camp brings hundreds of children and family members from remote communities together for summer camps, teen camps and even a family camp that brings a thousand people, making it a wonderful place for Aboriginal families to connect with friends and provide an opportunity to interact with pastors and counselors. For the first time in fifty years, things are different and a quietness hangs overhead as the shimmering lake laps the beautiful shore. In spite of difficult circumstances and unprecedented changes, there’s an aura of hope that hangs in the air. What we humans look at as an impossibility, God looks at as a possibility. For years now, Northern Youth Programs have been not only a safe place for families to come together but also a shining light going out into 20-30 small, remote communities across Canada. From family counseling, where Mark, a Registered Psychotherapist, and Mary spend most of their time, to youth retreats or kids clubs, Northern Youth Programs has worked to build relationships and trust with the Aboriginal community. They’ve built trust one counseling session and flight across the lakes at a time. The families needing counseling are often sponsored by their local child and family services to visit Beaver Lake Camp, covering some, but not all of Beaver Lake’s operating expenses. The rest is covered by compassionate donors across North America.
Loading supplies for remote First Nation communities in the Caravan. Matthew, age 12, taking after his Dad with a love for photography and adventure.
The staff at Beaver Lake Camp use a Cessna Caravan which was purchased a few years ago as their primary vehicle for travel to areas that are extremely remote and only accessible by flying. These communities, being very small and isolated enough that if the pandemic were to reach them it could be devastating. Due to that fact, most of them have been on lockdown for months, with very little travel in and out. Several ministries have partnered together with Northern Youth Programs to fly personal protective equipment to these communities. While the communities and their leaders are incredibly grateful for the PPE, they've requested that Bibles and Bible study materials be flown in along with the PPE. One chief called up the ministry and said he needs 100 Bibles for the young people in his community. They are hungry for hope and a God that sees them in their isolation. This hunger has spread all the way across the arctic and there are forty-three communities all across the arctic that are asking for PPE and Bibles in their language. It’s no small task to make the trek to these remote communities, but Mark and Mary and their fellow missionaries are grateful for this exciting opportunity in hard times. The hunger for God’s Word has been so great that they’ve had to print more Bibles to fill all the requests.
Mark teaching during a Family Counseling Program
Some of the deepest needs the Aboriginal people face are associated with suicide, isolation, remoteness, and lack of resources, in spite of strong leadership in their communities and deep resilience, it’s not an easy life. It’s obvious that fifty years ago when the seeds of Northern Youth Programs were planted, God knew that in 2020, He would need trusted available people to meet a vast need--physically and spiritually. Mark, Mary, and their family thrive in their role in the Aboriginal community, yet it can be somewhat lonely even though exciting. It's a challenge staying connected to family and friends while living 1,000’s of miles away. They’ve spent most of their married life in the Arctic and Ontario, but they are grateful for family and friends like Stoll Cares who continue to carry compassion and vision for the Aboriginal people of Canada. They know and so do we here at Stoll Industries that God is a God of love and hope for all people in every season, even in the pandemic of 2020. Especially now.
If you would like to find out more about Beaver Lake Camp and join in sharing love and hope with the Aboriginal people of Canada and the Arctic, you can find out more at https://www.beaverlakecamp.org/