Update: July 26th-31st
How??? How??? How have six weeks, SIX WEEKS, of camp gone by already. The summer is flying by. I cannot believe how much stuff has happened in the last six weeks. I cannot believe that there is only three weeks of camp left. However, I am starting to get excited about going on holidays with my family at the end of August. But there continues to be amazing stories from camp this year and so I'd like to take this opportunity to again invite you into the story of camp. Also, I apologize for missing a week in regards to these updates. This update will be about Week 5 and then I will send a separate one in regards to Week 6.
Week 5 was Kids Camp and we had 66 Day Campers, 112 Overnight Campers, and 17 CLTD's. The CLTD's were finishing their final week of their year two program.
Week 5 was also a very special week for me as our guest speaker was my brother Sheldon Dean. Sheldon, his wife Valerie and their three children all came for the week and it was great to have them. Their oldest son Kyrren spent the week working in Day Camp with the 5 - 7 year olds and their two daughters spent the week as campers.
Actually, the way they ended up here is an amazing God moment. We had a speaker cancel on us at the last minute for Week 5 and so we were scrambling a bit to find a speaker. Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) and I were calling everyone we knew to come and speak. Then on the Sunday before the camp I sent my brother a text message as a joke and said, "You should take a week with fam and speak at kids camp next week......." I was totally kidding when I sent the text message. It was more out of desperation then anything that I sent the text. I then got this message back, "Like this year? That's funny you say that. I had been praying about doing that and asking you for next year." I called him right away and he said that he had been driving a few days earlier and felt that God was laying this message on his heart about talking to kids about how to live for God and how he could use characters from the bible as examples. He had started to think how he could develop this into a week long series. Here's the funny part, my brother has never spoke at a camp.... ever. Here he was just praying and feeling like God was calling him to do something and here I was sending him a completely random text message that was about what God had been calling him to do. I love how God works. Like either that is the biggest coincidence in the world or there is a God who was up to something. Well, since I do not believe in coincidences I am going to go with the latter.
Wait, it gets better. The problem though was Sheldon was just coming off of a week of holidays and so had to go and ask permission to take another week of holidays right away. This is something that his work usually does not allow. So Sheldon goes and tells his boss that he was being offered the opportunity to speak at a camp and that he would like to go. His boss said yes right away. Not that it really matters but I wanted to point out that Sheldon's boss is not a believer but was in full support of Sheldon coming and doing this. And, was not only in full support but told Sheldon not to bring his work phone or laptop and to spend the week focusing on the kids at camp. Amazing. Also, Valerie's work gave her the time off as well. And then, like as if this could get any better, but wait, it does, Sheldon owns a boat and brought his boat for that week of camp. Well, while he was here, the boat we purchased started to experience some problems and had to be taken into the shop. Now normally this would have put a huge strain on our programming but because Sheldon was able to come and speak and was able to bring his boat, we were able to send our boat in for repairs and no kids had to miss out of the experience of power tubbing. Ya, God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
However, God and I are still in discussions about the weather choices for this summer. We have had more than our share of storms. It was also actually cold here during Week 5. Like the furnaces came on in the lodge. There have actually been some pretty funny posts on social media about the storms. However, it looks like this week is going to be a week of HOT HOT HOT so hopefully this will help everything to dry out. The ground is very, very wet and is causing us all kinds of problems. We will be needing to put in a new boat launch in the fall and the wet ground has created some problems in some other areas as well. Hopefully this warm weather will assist in drying everything out.
The theme for Week 5 was Olympics and a lot of our Camp Events involved some great competitions. For our Dead Cow time with staff we had food inspired by Greece. During this time, staff again shared their highlights from the week. One of the best highlights came from a power tubing story. During the week Sheldon had been commenting on how fast some of the boat drivers were going with the kids but he was amazed that no one was getting flipped or falling off. But he kept bugging us that some drivers were going fast. Then one afternoon I was bringing Sheldon a coffee and he had a bit of sheepish look on his face. I asked him what was up and he said, "Ummm, I definitely just 360 a group of kids on the power tube." I asked what happened and he said that he was pulling the tube and it hit a wave and the kids went completely upside down and all three kids were launched into the water. Later I ran into a cabin leader who said, "Coach, we just had the most EPIC flip ever. There were these two boys who were scared to go onto the tube and so I went with them and I spent the whole time convincing them that we wouldn't flip and that it would be ok. And then Sheldon hit this wave and we flew up in the air and the one kids hand went flailing out and hit me in the mouth and then we all went upside down and landed in the water. When we all came up I looked at the other kids and they were all laughing their heads off. It was awesome. They were so scared to go and I haven't done it for like 9 years but I figured it'd be fine. And Coach, I was wearing sweat pants but I figured we'd be fine with your brother driving. And then the next thing I know I'm flying through the air with a kid smacking me in the mouth and then landing in the water. But Coach, they were all laughing so hard and had so much fun. It really was awesome." Yup, there's nothing like a good epic flip to help someone have a good time at camp.
Another highlight from camp was after Sheldon drove some kids on the boat he said to one little girl, "That was fun. See you at fireside." The little girl looked at her cabin leader and said, "He goes to fireside?" The girl didn't even realize the guest speaker she'd been listening to for two days was the boat driver. Ah, now there is a kick to the ego.
We also were reminded of some things at camp. Sometimes we have a tendency to somehow view the relationship of a 7 year old with Jesus as less than or different than that of an older teen. However, the amount of cool spiritual stuff that happened during Week 5 reminded us that the kingdom of God truly does belong to children. One girl one night was crying at fireside and a cabin leader asked her what was up and she said, "I get it. I actually get it. I get what Jesus sacrifice means." We had one cabin leader who was so moved by what was happening in his cabin that he offered to buy a bible for each kid in his cabin. Kids were asking amazing questions. I think the young kids were actually ministering to our staff more than our staff were ministering to them. God definitely reminded us about who the kingdom belongs to and how the most important thing we do here at camp is work with kids. Children are amazing. They are a gift and a blessing and they were the teachers and witnesses of the gospel last week.
Sheldon also paid our staff a complement by saying that what he appreciated about our camp is how we are willing to just let kids be kids. He told the staff that he thought it was awesome that we are more about meeting kids where they are at and responding to their needs than we are about schedules or anything else. We have kids who come from a number of different backgrounds and with a variety of needs. There is one kid who comes on a regular basis who has severe FAS. He is a runner. He just runs all the time. Getting him to sit in one spot for more than 5 minutes is next to impossible most of the time. However, our staff do an amazing job with him. When he can't sit still at campfire they go and play tether ball with him. When he needs to go run, staff run with him. He actually went to another camp the week after he was here and they sent him home on the second day. However, the best part was that on the very last day of camp here during fireside, he sat through the whole thing and was engaged with the speaker. I just love how our staff meet kids where they are at and by doing so help kids have successful weeks at camp.
Finally, one last highlight I want to point out is a story from our kitchen. If you get a chance, go to our website or any of our social media accounts, including my personal Facebook account and look for the video of Liam (Genie), cleaning the pot. What happened was a dessert got burnt in a pot and the black marks in the pot would not come out. Genie was working on this pot for a while. Then finally he filled the pot with some water, picked it up out of the sink, looked at it, took a couple of deep breaths and then yelled "JUST DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and then began scrubbing the pot as hard as he could. Water was flying everywhere and he got soaked from head to toe. Part of this epic battle with the pot was caught on video. However, the pot did not come clean. Then, one of our volunteers came in and saw the pot, grabbed some oven cleaner, sprayed it on, waited 5 minutes, and then gently wiped it clean. Yup, an epic battle was lost but it was awesome.
We also continue to have kids here from the Gateway program. This has been an amazing new partnership for the camp. We are also still recovering from the floods and are working with our insurance company on the recovery efforts. The City of Chestermere has also been amazing in their support. It truly is amazing to see how this community supports each other.
So ya, that was Week 5. I will be sending out a Week 6 update shortly. I really do enjoy doing these as it reminds me of all the good that happens here. It is so easy in my role to get caught up in all of the stress and problems and details. The admin work is enormous and can suck the life out of a guy. But these remind about the successes we have here, the fun we have and it is a reminded that God is good.