Update: July 12-19

Hello again everyone.

I want to start off again this week by acknowledging those who have suffered loss due the storms, hail, and heavy rains we experienced last week. While Camp Chestermere was hit hard and did experience damage, we were able to at least stay open which was unfortunately not the case for some businesses on the north side of the lake. Our thoughts and prayers again go out to those who have suffered loss. We have heard some heart breaking stories from some people and are saddened. One person who is closely connected to the camp is having to move out of her house for the next couple of months due the damage to her home. However, I want to again acknowledge how awesome it has been to watch the community of Chestermere come together to help each other out. We have also been blessed with a number of volunteers who are helping to fix things around the camp.

For those who may not be aware, not only did Chestermere get slammed on Sunday morning but then again on Tuesday afternoon. Within five minutes it went from a beautiful day outside to wind, rain, hail and.... well..... just plain ugly. Of course, the difference between Sunday and Tuesday is we had a full camp of both day and overnight campers. When the storm first hit, Overnight Camp was in free time and Day Camp was in activities at the time of the storm. Our staff did a great job of getting all children inside in a very short amount of time. Day Camp children were brought to their activity rooms and Overnight Campers went to the lodge. Some of the girl campers went to their cabins as this was a quicker way for them to get inside before the storm came. Cabin leaders ensured that all of their campers were present.

While inside our staff read children stories, played games at tables, and sang camp songs to help the campers feel safe and calm. I want to say that our staff did an amazing job in working with the children. There were some scared children who were crying and the staff did an amazing job of helping keep these children calm and having fun. Meanwhile, some other staff were moving throughout the camp to help prevent buildings from flooding. While some of the buildings at the camp did flood, all children were safe and dry and all buildings are safe for children to be in. After the storm the children returned to their cabins and then moved into activities before supper.

I want to make special mention of a few different people. First of all, I was moving throughout the camp to see how everything was going during the storm and at one point I walked into the lodge and there was Summer Staff member Ryan (The Walrus) standing on the ledge of the fire place reading the kids a story and kids were hanging on every word. Also, huge props to Seasonal Leaders Gary (Rahfiki), Sidney (Sully), Amanda (Blush), Evan (Stret), and Summer Staff Members Liam (Genie), Nick (Asaph), Simon (Spruce) and many more who were running around the site emptying buildings of water, setting up barriers so water couldn't get in, tying down the boats, and doing whatever needed to be done in order to limit the damage to the camp. Also, another shout out to Seasonal Leader Kylie (Trinket), who immediately started cleaning up water and saving camp assets that were down under while at the same time keeping the CLTD's safe and dry. Our staff truly did an outstanding job in the middle of multiple emergencies. I will have many letters of recommendation to write at the end of this summer.

But now I get to tell you what I love about my job. After the storm we let the kids all go back outside to activities. As quickly as the storm came in it left. I was again walking around the site assessing the damage and I walked by a group of 7 year olds who invented a new game. They had somehow found an empty flower pot and were filling it with piles of hail. When the bucket was filled they would pick it up and dump it over their heads. I walked up and asked, "What are you guys doing?" to which they all replied in unison, "IT'S THE HAIL BUCKET CHALLENGE COACH!!!!" It was awesome. Here is this group of 7 year olds who just a few minutes before were having to be reassured that everything was ok and then in the middle of chaos they invented a new game. And they just kept playing it and daring others to join in as well.

I'm actually a little emotional as I write this as I am realizing again that these boys taught me something about leadership. They reminded me to look for the opportunity in the middle of the chaos. They reminded me that what we do here is good. They also reminded me of what Jesus said when he said "let the little children come to me because the kingdom belongs to them." This camp, what we do, what we are about, is about the kids who to come it. Right there in this moment where I was feeling a little lost and overwhelmed with having to deal with more damage, these boys reminded me that everything was gonna be ok. That it is ok to grab a bucket of hail, dump it over your head and dare your buddy to do the same. This is camp. This is ministry. This is the kingdom. I legit have tears in my eyes as I write this. It is amazing that we get to do what we do. Thank you Jesus for the opportunity we have to be a part of this incredible place.

However, Camp Chestermere has experienced some loss and damage to the camp. We are having to do major repair work to the basement of the Chap, there is a sink hole in the middle of the field by the gazebo from a dump truck that sank into the field, we are still drying out down under and we had to throw some things away that were damaged by the water. If you have some time this week to come and volunteer to help us get back on our feet that would be awesome. I want to acknowledge our new board member Darlene Davis who has donated some fans and product to help us clean up the mess. If you have any questions about how you can help then please contact me directly at campdirector@campchestermere.com.

Ironically, the theme last week was Under the Sea. Don't worry, we have now made a rule that this theme will never again be allowed at Camp Chestermere ;). We actually joked with the guest speaker if she had been praying about Noah this week and if that was her theme. But seriously, there were some cool things that happened with this theme including huge water fights in Day and Overnight Camp. There were 100 day campers last week and 105 overnight. We were full and it was awesome.

Last week I hinted at a cool new partnership that we have formed at Camp Chestermere. Camp Chestermere is now working with a program called Gateway. Gateway is a program designed to facilitate a connection between the police, young people, their families, and appropriate community resources. Gateway is designed to intervene with youth who commit a chargeable but minor offence. Youth in the program must accept responsibility for the offence and be willing to participate in the program. Last week we had two young people from the program helping us here at the camp and this week we have another two young people. Last week these kids helped in the kitchen, helped repair the beach and did some demo work in the chap. It was awesome. Another great opportunity for Camp Chestermere to be a place to belong for people from various backgrounds. We are really excited about this new partnership and the opportunities that it will bring. Both of the teens who were here last week have also now expressed interest in coming to Teens Camp in August. the coolest part of this last week was one of our leaders was holding prayer times with these guys and both of the boys from the gateway program were making friends with people at camp. This is what we do. When people come we help them feel that they belong.

We also had a couple of birthdays last week. We celebrated Seasonal Leadership Member Amanda (Blush) birthday at lunch with a giant sunday treat. The tradition here at camp for birthdays is that for girls, all of the male staff serenade the birthday girl with "You Raise Me Up" and for a boy the girls serenade the birthday boy with Love by Nat King Cole. The birthday individual stands on the ledge of the fireplace and all the staff hold their hand and kneel in front of them while singing.

However, Summer Staff Member Chase (Stokes) got an extra special birthday surprise this week. Chase (Stokes) is a huge Rush fan and Rush was here for a concert Wednesday night. Chase (Stokes) was sad that he was not going to be able to attend the concert because he was working at camp. However, Overnight Male Team Lead Erik (Baloo) and Chase's mom prepared an extra special surprise for him. They bought him Rush tickets and Erik (Baloo) took Chase (Stokes) out for dinner and then to the concert. BUT, it gets even better. While there, they had their seats upgraded by Q107 and were featured on their Facebook page and Erik (Baloo) was interviewed the next morning on the radio. Such an awesome experience. Well done by Erik (Baloo) and Chase's (Stokes) mom.

We also had another celebration last week as Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) and his wife Shay (Yoshi) celebrated their third year wedding anniversary. The staff also sang to Collin and Shay and they took the day on Tuesday to celebrate their anniversary. Again happy anniversary to both of them. They both are such a blessing to this place and I do not know what we do without either of them.

In keeping with the Under the Sea theme we had sea food for the staff dinner on Friday night. We also spent some time reflecting on the week and each staff member shared a highlight from the week. There are a couple of these highlights that I'd like to mention. First of all, as I am sure the parents out there can appreciate, getting kids to brush their teeth can be a struggle. The leaders in one of our boy cabins decided get creative on getting their kids to brush their teeth. They told the kids that if they didn't brush their teeth that they would have teeth like the girl from Nemo. One night a boy lost his tooth brush and could not find it and went into full on panic. The cabin leaders tried to calm him down but the boy was just really frustrated. Finally the boy exclaimed "I DON"T WANNA HAVE TEETH LIKE THE NEMO GIRL!!!!" Oops, I guess that plan worked a little too well.

Also, another story also came from the boys side. One of the cabin leaders went to the lodge to get some water. When he returned the theme music from Pirates of the Caribbean was blasting in the cabin and all of the campers were dog piling the leaders co. Suddenly the leader who was dog piled on jumped up and kids were trying to tackle him again. Finally one kid in the massive struggle slapped the leaders hand and yelled, "Yes I win." Another kid with a huge smile on his face yelled, "That was the most epic game of chop sticks ever."

And finally from the girls side, Amanda (Blush), was working with our CLTD's this week as Marie (Willis) was away. As I mentioned earlier, Amanda (Blush) had her birthday this week and was feeling a little down the night before her birthday as she was turning the big 2 0 and was no longer going to be a teenager (this is a big deal when you work with young adults). She was sharing this with the CLTD girls in her cabin. The CLTD girls then said, "We should have a slumber party." They snuck up to the lodge, grabbed a bunch of snacks, took it all back to the cabin and had girl chats all night. Amanda (Blush) was so touched that the CLTD's would do this so she could feel like a kid one more time before turning 20. Awesome.

So ya, that's camp. This is what we do. We have floods, we have dump trucks sink in the middle of fields, we have beaches and fire pits wash away and we have campers who do hail bucket challenges, who put on slumber parties for their leaders, who get brought to a concert by their leader and who dog pile their leader to the theme music of Pirates of the Caribbean. How can you not love this place?

Talk to ya next week.

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