Update: July 5-12

Hello again everyone.

I hope this email finds you well and hopefully not too affected by the storm that blew through here on Sunday morning. To those people who have lost property and have damage to their homes we are thinking of you and praying for you. In some ways this is far too familiar to 2013 with, thankfully, a lot less damage. However, I spoke to a woman yesterday who's home has been condemned due to damage to her home and I know of someone else who's neighbour's house burned to the ground from a lightning strike. Again know our thoughts and prayers are with you.

I am happy to report that everyone here at camp is safe and we were able to open for this week. However, we did get a little pounded by the storm. Five of our buildings took in water. The Chap was the most affected as the basement filled up with almost 2 feet of water. The water in the lake rose so high that a boat belonging to one of our volunteers was picked up off of the lift and floated away, there were three confirmed lightning strikes that hit the ground at the camp, our fire pit area was nearly washed away, our target shooting area was damaged, the beach was heavily damaged, and there were various other small areas around the camp that were damaged. However, no major damage was done and everyone is safe and ok. Our volunteer also got his boat back. I am also happy to report that none of the the staff residences were affected by the storm.

I will say this though, it is amazing how this city comes together to support each other. I sent out some text messages and some posts on social media and the number of people who responded to come and help was amazing. City of Chestermere Mayor Patricia Matthews organized a group of people who came and helped immediately with whatever needed to be done. One of the people who responded was newly elected Wildrose MLA Leela Aheer. However, as we were walking around the site and I showed her what needed to be done she said to me, "I'm here as a mom who has sent her kids here and loves this place and knows how much this place does for kids. I just wanted to come and help." I just loved her attitude of it wasn't about her or her position but it was about helping the camp so the camp could serve the community again. Mayor Matthews also shares in this attitude of it being about helping the camp support the community and I think it is great how so many of the key leaders in this community support the work of so many organizations in the community, including Camp Chestermere. Mayor Matthews also sent over a couple of boxes of donuts for our staff which were appreciated and did not last long.

Former Camp Medic Nikki Bridger and her family also came and helped to get water out of down under. People brought tools and equipment and man power and just jumped in and did whatever needed to be done. Also, special mention needs to be made of CLTD Coordinator Marie (Willis), Overnight Male Team Lead Erik (Baloo), Office Manager Chantel (Lilac), Assistant Office Manager Amanda (Calico), Summer Staff members Nic (Asaph), Nicola (Anchor), Becki (Periwinkle), Liam (Genie), Pam (Monkey), Matt (Tarzan), and Ryan (The Walrus) who all came in early to help get the camp ready for campers who were on their way. Momma Ruth also came in and just started cooking food like crazy for all of the volunteers who were some. Most of the people I mentioned above didn't get to really eat anything until well after noon and some started working as early as 8 am. It was amazing to see these people just do whatever needed to be done to get this place ready to accept kids.

The rest of the staff started to arrive later in the day and again jumped right in to help us prepare. We ended up delaying registration until 7pm and parents were awesome about being understanding of the situation. But we are open, functioning and in full swing. Also, a huge thank you to Board Chair Glenn Minnesma for organizing new sand through Wilco for the beach area. Most of our sand was washed away and our beach was heavily damaged. Glenn organized all of this while away on holidays. Again, it's encouraging to see how many people care about this place and do whatever needs to be done to help.

I also received an email and a phone call from two different camps in Alberta asking if everyone here was safe and ok. It is just awesome the expressions of concern and support we have received from everyone. It truly is a blessing to know that people care about us and were concerned about how we were doing. We have also had a lot of volunteers out to help since Sunday. Bookkeeper Heather (Bookie) showed up yesterday to help with the clean up efforts. Thank you to all of the people who have been able to come and help.

In regards to camp last week, it was HOT. Wow. We had 7 - 11 year olds last week for overnight and the energy was awesome. In terms of numbers, we had 114 overnight campers, 69 day campers and 10 1st year CLTDs. The kids were like energizer bunnies and just kept going and going and going and going. However, the heat made it somewhat challenging in a few different regards. First of all, when it's hot all day and then all night, some people tend to get a little more agitated a little more quickly and so our staff had to do a great job at keeping kids calm during some of our more compe