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 thin