Vol 6 No. 11 Rod Olsen on Rocky Mountain College

Dear Folks,


I have asked Rod Olson who looks after Urban Camping and Rocky Mountain College Students to give us an idea about his work with these students.  Thank you Rod for your mentoring of so many and your service to us all.



In Christ,





Rod, what would you like to share about your personal life, interests or ministry responsibilities in such a way that we might know more about you?

I have been a stay-at-home father – my life partner Joline, is a grade 6 teacher, and this has afforded us the ability for me to be involved in ministry part-time.  I have chosen part-time because I also enjoy pursuing creative interests and am currently employed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra as the Principal Tenor in the chorus (Tom L. gets a kick out of that title, which, let’s be honest, it is a bit ostentatious). I also sing in Spiritus Chamber Choir to add a bit of beauty to the world (if you are in Calgary and want a moving Lenten experience we have a concert “Seven Last Words from the Cross” on March 21 at 7:30PM –  http://www.spirituschamberchoir.ca/) .

I love to garden (all a farm boy has living in a city) and love good food – just ask my kids (Anya 11 and Siri 9) about me and food.  I also offer spiritual direction and continue to grow and develop my skills of accompanying people on their journey of faith.

If you like personality stuff – I am all blue on the Birkman, a “4” on the Enneagram, an “INFP” on the Myers Briggs and learn best visually, musically or intrapersonally (multiple intelligence).

Within the CBWC my ministry responsibilities include Urban Camping and overseeing the CBWC EDGE students at Rocky Mountain College.  As part of these responsibilities I also meet with the Intergenerational Ministry Cluster (IMC) and the Camping Committee.

What is the EDGE Program?

The EDGE program is an 8 month program held at Rocky Mountain College for students who want to learn more about God, and also want to experience the unknown, where they can be taken to physical, intellectual and spiritual limits. It combines classroom work, group work, worship, ministry exposure and adventure experiences to assist young people learn about themselves, God, and their connection to the world around them.

More specifically from a Canadian Baptist perspective – the EDGE program is a renewed approach to offering discipleship education to students that graduate from high school. In other words this is the re-imagination of what many of us remember as BLTS or Ascent.  Students are encouraged to attend and for doing so they receive a $3000 bursary ($1500 per term) and a chance to become involved and mentored in a Calgary and area CBWC church.

An added benefit to partnering with Rocky Mountain College is that the EDGE courses are also the foundation year for all the degrees and so if a student wanted to finish a degree they would be well on their way.

What and where is Rocky Mountain College?

Rocky Mountain College (RMC) is a merger of Hillcrest Christian College (Medicine Hat, AB) and Mountain View Bible College (Didsbury, AB) that first opened its doors in Calgary in 1992.  One of the strengths of RMC is its multi-denominational character which makes it possible for students to rub shoulders with people from a wide spectrum of Christian thought and practice. As Canadian Baptists we resonate with its evangelical and moderate stance as well as its support of women in Christian leadership.

Who are the Students there? Can you tell us something about them and the ministry and churches they are in?

We have 16 students in total that we meet regularly with over a meal every other week.  But for the term of Jan – April we have 12 that are receiving bursaries (the others have either completed their bursaries but are in degree programs or are finishing up commitments made in the partnership).

We have been having a great time this school year.  It began with a retreat at Gull Lake Centre with Dr. Axel Schoeber giving us reason to be proud of our history as Canadian Baptist’s.  We also bonded over sharing our stories including pain and struggles that make each person unique.  The level of trust risked and offered was astounding.  This January we added three new students including Melvin Arachi who is part of a new Canadiam Baptist Church plant called Greenhills Christian Fellowship, Amelia Niesner and Shaun Bott.  The students on bursaries are:

  1. Katie Matheson from FBC Saskatoon helping at Bowness Baptist (Sunday School)
  2. Danielle Truscott from Calvary Ft St John helping at Bowness Baptist (Youth and Music)
  3. Amelia Niesner from Calvary Ft St John helping at Bowness Baptist (Youth and music)
  4. Allison Fernandes from Calgary helping at Sonrise Community (Youth and music)
  5. Sami Valavaara from Fernie helping at Altadore (Ministerial Student)
  6. Elizabeth Sunrise from Hay River helping at Altadore (Hospitality and children)
  7. Luke MacLeod from FBC Nanaimo helping at Westview (Youth and music)
  8. Leah McMillian from FBC Clive helping at First Baptist (Sunday School)
  9. Bradley Fraser from Trinity Sherwood Park helping at First Baptist (Sunday School)
  10. Shaun Bott from Palmerston, Ontario helping at Frist Baptist (Community Outreach)
  11. Mike Zelmer from FBC Olds helping at Awaken (community building)
  12. Melvin Arachi from Calgary helping at Greenhills Christain Fellowship (Church planter)


Others in our group include Miranda Littel from Calgary helping at First Baptist (ESL), Jen Naish completing her youth ministry degree (employed with Bonavista), Brandon Witwer completing his Christian Spirituality degree (has helped with the 18-25 year old survey for our CBWC camps), and Bobby Wieler (has finished the bursary program but is still volunteering at Westview with the youth).

Can I also say that if you are interested in seeing young people mentored and encouraged to wrestle with their place in the Big Story of God then the CBWC is happy to receive donations to offset the cost of the bursaries – perhaps you could underwrite one student at $3500.00 per year?


Rod, you have several other interests. Could you briefly describe what you do in a given month and touch on Christian Camping.

  • Urban Camping is again coming onto people’s radar for spring and summer of 2010.  I have been asked by the CBWC board to begin tracking the number of children impacted by urban camping whether funded by the denomination or not.  If you had a day camp, a sports camp, or some type of summer program for kids in 2009 – I would love to hear from you rolson@cbwc.ca.
  • In order to better serve local areas I have invited several people involved in Urban Camping to participate in a team that will help inspire and implement Urban Camping in old, new and creative ways.
  • Another way Urban Camping wants to encourage gathering young kids is around gardens on Church properties.  Several schools and community groups are recognizing the need to educate children on where food comes from and how to grow your own food. How much more equipped is the church to offer space for neighbours to garden creating a safe space for conversations about Life around the metaphors of seeding, weeding and feeding plants.
  • Over the fall and winter much of my time is spent overseeing the CBWC EDGE students. This includes finding churches where they can volunteer, meeting with pastors and mentors, feeding them a meal every 2 weeks and engaging them in discussion of pertinent life issues.
  • Meetings with the Intergenerational Ministry  cluster  – Nadia VanderKuip (short-term missions), Claire McLean (Interim Youth), Faye Reynolds (Women), and until recently Mandi Hecht (C-fam), provide support and encouragement for part-time employees of the CBWC.  It is also a place where we work on certain projects that affect the life of CBWC members from cradle to grave.
  • Meetings with the Camping committee have taken a new and exciting shift as all the Camp directors (or a representative) now make up the camping committee along with myself and Claire McLean.  Our greatest task is to see how collaborating will ensure greater excellence and sustainability for camping across our denomination.
  • Generally this gets done on 20 hours per week.