In 1929, a small group of students and graduates from the United Kingdom committed themselves to beginning student ministry in North America. They began by sending a recent Cambridge University graduate, Howard Guinness, to Canada. Guinness travelled from coast to coast, establishing groups of university students committed to Bible study, discipleship and witness on campus.
That same year, Ontario Pioneer Camp was established as a place where students could put their discipleship into action as they introduced more young people to Jesus Christ through the venue of summer camp.
In the 1940s, Canadian General Secretary C. Stacey Woods was instrumental in expanding the ministry of Inter-Varsity into the United States of America. Both ministries took hold and continued to grow, reaching more and more students each year.
In 1947, Inter-Varsity’s North American movements joined with eight other countries to establish the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students [IFES]. At the 60th anniversary of the IFES, in 2007, more than 150 member countries celebrated their united ministry to students, which brings the hope of Jesus Christ to all parts of the world.
In December 1946, a group of 500 students gathered at the University of Toronto for the first Student Missions Convention. Partnering with InterVarsity US in 1948, this conference was moved to Urbana, Illinois and thus began six decades of conferences that came to be known across North America and around the world as the Urbana Missions Convention. Held every three years, Urbana attracts more than 15,000 delegates who are seeking God’s purpose and direction in their lives, particularly as it relates to mission service.
In 2007, Canadian Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship Inc. was established to provide friends and alumni in the United States a means of supporting associated ministries, such as Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada. Summer Missions staff and campers from the United States participate in the many camp programs offered through Canadian Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship Inc. supporting partners.
As Inter-Varsity continued to grow on the campus, its camp ministry also began to expand. Today, Inter-Varsity operates 10 camps in Canada, under the Pioneer and Circle Square Ranch names. The Pioneer Camps were established by Inter-Varsity, while the Circle Square Ranch camps were received as a gift from Crossroads Christian Communications Inc. in 2011.
In 2010, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada dedicated itself to launching 20,000 Extraordinary Kingdom Leaders into our world by 2020. These are young people who, through challenge and discipleship, have committed themselves to being life-long followers of Jesus. They will be influencers in their families, neighborhoods and churches. They will be leaders in the marketplace and the mission field and they will bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to all spheres of life...and to the next generation.