I met Neil my first year at Katepwa Baptist Kamp. I would have been thirteen or so, and I didn't really know many people at KBK. (Most of the kids were from Regina, I was from Moose Jaw.)

He was about sixteen or seventeen, a junior counsellor and lifeguard for the camp. A goofy guy, with long curly auburn hair, in ringlets/dreadlocks down to his shoulders. He played guitar.

He'd make up funny songs on the guitars, and recruit a few guys in camp (me included) to be the Maui Maulers. We had our own theme song:

Are you sitting next to a Maui Mauler?
Are you sitting next to a Maui Mauler?
If you're sitting next to a Maui Mauler,
Then you'll die! Die! DIE DIE DIE DIE!

A fun guy to hang around with.

As the years went by, and I went from Grade 7 to Grade 11, Neil would still be at camp, progressing from lifeguard to full counsellor, to director.

He fell in love with a girl, Carolyn.

He started going to bible college at Caronport, a mere fifteen minutes outside of Moose Jaw.

When I was eighteen, I became a camp counsellor myself, under his direction.

Over the five or six years I went to Katepwa, Neil would be there. He was an example to me that you didn't have to kill your personality to be a Christian. You were a Christian in addition to all your traits. You could be a goofball, a crazy man, a completely zany, imaginative, creative guy.

He was the first person I knew who'd lobby for the right to play U2 songs as hymns during campfire because they were a very spiritual band. (40 - U2, from the War album)

One of the last times I saw Neil was when I was working at Boston Pizza back in Moose Jaw in 1998. Neil and Carolyn, living at Caronport, were being served by me.

In 1999, Neil and Carolyn had a baby girl, Madeline.

Rev. Neil McCall, youth pastor at Westhill Park Baptist Church in Regina, succumbed to cancer on Wednesday morning. I didn't even know he was sick. It was a pretty big blow to hear this news from my mom.

Neil, I'd like to thank you for helping this kid turn out to be the man he is today, independent in my personality, and unafraid in my faith. I know you touched others just as well as you did me so many years ago.

You will be missed.

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