Good morning everyone,
Ok I know I have become a little delinquent on the weekly updates but it has been an amazing summer and Week 6 was no exception. I also am encouraged by the number of emails, phone calls and in person requests from people about receiving these weekly updates. I promise that I will get back to weekly in the fall. For now however, I am a little behind but it has been great to spend time with so many kids this summer.
Week 6 was another middle camp and we had 107 Overnight Campers, 39 Day Campers, and 9 First Year CLTD's. We also had a couple of Day Campers join us for one or two days throughout the week. One of the things you can expect to see for summer 2016 is more flexibility in registrations, especially for Day Camp. Priority will be given to people who book for the week but we do want to provide some flexibility for families who's children may not be able to attend the full week around a long weekend. Our numbers around long weekends tend to be a little down and I believe that one solution to this would be more flexibility for our clients. There are many conversations happening behind the scenes about this right now and more information will follow in the spring of 2016.
Actually, this would be a good time for me to mention that there are a lot of conversations happening already about the 2016 summer camping season. This summer has been amazing and we have seen many successes and triumphs but I am already excited about the changes for next year. We are exploring ideas such as a blob in the lake, a new bike program, a mud pit and more. For winter camps we are looking at putting in a skating rink. This summer has been a summer of learning for me as a director and I have been on a learning curve that is straight up hill. However, now that we have a better understanding of how we operate as a staff and now that I have a better understanding of what I have been asked to lead, I am STOKED about what is coming. The future of Camp Chestermere is very bright. Lots of ideas, lots of discussion and lots of cool new programs and activities coming. Stay tuned, read updates and get involved. "A Place To Belong" isn't just our slogan but it is something we want to invite all of our stake holders to be grab a hold of and be a part of. Can you tell how excited I am about the future of this place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
We had some more storms blow through in Week 6. Seriously, after the summer we have had I actually start to get a little twitchy every time I see some clouds in the sky. We have had way too many floods and way too much water. However, the storm this week did create a bit of a cool experience for our first year CLTD's.
A part of the 1st Year CLTD Foundations Program is something called Dessert Island. This is a chance for the participants in CLTD to grow and bond as a team. For this week's Dessert Island, the kids were outside in Office Manager Chantel's (Lilac) backyard. Then the storm rolled in with the rain and the hail and the wind. The leaders of the CLTD's immediately tried to bring the CLTD's in but the CLTD's would have none of it. They refused, REFUSED to come in and all huddled under the deck and sang songs, told jokes and bonded through the storm. The CLTD leaders were amazed at their little group of leaders. They just stayed all throughout the storm and really bonded as a team. Now parents who are reading this, the kids were never in any real danger and if it had become really dumb outside then we would have forced the kids inside. However, this was a resilient group who bonded together through the storm. As a speaker I love stuff like this because it provides so many sermon analogies.
But honestly, this particular group of CLTD's was amazing. One of the CLTD leaders remarked, "I can't wait to see these guys in third year. They are already leaders and the growth that will happen in the next couple of years will be amazing." Another CLTD Leader mention, "I cannot believe how much these guys bonded this week." This particular group of CLTD's was just awesome and it is teens like this who are the future of Camp Chestermere.
Our guest speaker for week 6 Chris King. Chris is a good friend and mentor to me and it was great to have him out here for the whole week. His kids were also in Day Camp for the week. This is one thing that we do that I love. When speakers come we have so many ways in which we take care of their kids. When Connie Jakab was here earlier this summer, Day Camp Team Lead Daniel (Archie) spent the majority of his week walking around with her son and looking after him. When my brothers kids were here, his son worked in day camp and his two daughters were over night campers. We offer day and overnight camp to our speakers for free. Unfortunately we are not able to provide bigger honorariums to our guest speakers and so it is great when we can give a little more by having their kids participate in our camps.
But going back to Chris for a moment, during the evening sessions he spoke on emotions this week and he talked about how it is ok to have emotions but it not ok for emotions to control you. Then during the morning sessions he spoke on putting on the full armour of God. He had kids up and chanting and involved and fully partiicpating in what he was doing. The guy truly is a gifted speaker and it is incredible to see him work with youth. Chris builds relationships with people in a short amount of time like no one I've ever seen. It is amazing to watch him work and we were blessed to have him here this week.
Also, Chris paid our staff a tremendous complement. Chris has spoken at many camps, conferences and retreats in a number of different places both nationally and internationally. During our Dead Cow time, Chris said that he has been to other camps who have better buildings, better facilities, better worship, more flash and more stuff but he had never seen a staff interact and work with kids the way the staff at Camp Chestermere does. He was blown away by the way staff interacts with kids during games, during worship, and throughout the whole week. He said it was awesome to see how cabin leaders get campers involved in worship. Seriously, at Camp Chestermere we have actions for almost every song. Chris said that when it came to staff building relationships with kids that this was the best he had ever seen. Well done staff. Well done.
Seriously, our Seasonal Leadership Team and Summer staff are the ones who make this place the amazing place to belong that it is. I would encourage/challenge anyone to come and watch our staff at work. Staff carry kids from one place to another, meet kids where they are at, sit with kids, cry with kids, sing with kids, celebrate with kids. Sure, other places may have more stuff but relationships is what we do and we do it well.
Also, one of our main volunteers was away this week and so Dianne Ascot came and volunteered for the week and did some work with the recycling and garbage. Dianne worked here for many years and it was cool to have her back for a week to volunteer. Again, we want alumni, former staff, and former campers to know they are welcome here. They are welcome to come and help, to participate and to be a part of this community. Again, A Place to Belong isn't a slogan, it's a mission we try to live.
We again held our tradition of sharing weekly highlights during our Dead Cow meal and again there were some amazing stories. One of our female cabin leaders told a story of how one night they were all in the cabin getting ready for bed and the girls in the cabin all just spontaneously gathered around her and prayed for her to encourage her and let her know how much they appreciated her and the work she was doing. Another staff member told a story about how she was moved as she watched a camper go from being totally disinterested in Fireside to fully participating by the end of the week. This is another thing that I love about what we are about here at Camp Chestermere. At Camp Chestermere we believe that everyone is on a spiritual journey. Some believe in God, some don't. Some are unsure and some are fired up about Him. However, no matter where you are at in that journey, you are welcomed here, you are a part of this community, and you are loved here. I love how our staff embrace and live this mentality everyday.
Another staff member talked about how there was one kid who just would not smile all week. Then finally one day during a conversation he was able to get the camper to smile. I also love how our staff do not give up on campers. They meet them where they are at and meet them, as best they can, where their need is.
We also had many fun things happen this week. One day Chris talked about David dancing naked and how he said he would become even more undignified than this. During Dead Cow one of our cabin leaders said he walked into his cabin and the boys had just started to have a dance party and so he joined in. Then one of the boys yelled, "LET"S HAVE A DAVID DANCE PARTY." What???!!!! Ya, the cabin leader shut that down right away. I think that maybe the camper missed the point of the story.
Also, the day camp staff went on a slip and slide even though it was pouring rain and we have one staff member who loves to fill Food Services Assistant Sherry's (Curry) phone with pictures (you can ask her what the pictures are of). One cabin leader said that it was cool to hear so many kids said that they had a blast even though it rained. Yup, fun is what we have here.
Ok, just a couple of more stories. We had some parents, Mr. and Mrs. Brown come out and volunteer some time at the camp on the Friday. Both of their kids work at camp. The Browns blessed the camp by cleaning the Boat Shed and did an AMAZING job. Their daughter during Dead Cow mentioned, "I looked down the hill and saw my mom in the boat shed cleaning it on her hands and knees. It was cool because she was cleaning it like she cleans out house. It was cool to see that she loves camp that much." Enough said.
Also, Male Team Lead Erik (Baloo) shared his highlight of the week which was going to the Taylor Swift concert in Edmonton. What you have to understand is that going to concerts is like Baloo's thing. It's what he does. He has seen Bon Jovi more than a dozen times. When I asked him how the concert was he paused, looked me dead in the eye and in the most sincere voice ever said, "I cried it was so good." Awesome.
And finally, we have one member on staff who has literally come on staff so that he can get clean and sober and this week we celebrated his 30 days being clean and sober. We celebrated with him as a community, as a staff and as brothers and sisters in Christ. It was awesome to celebrate his success and we continue to journey with him through this process.
So that was Week 6. I cannot believe we only have 2 weeks of Overnight Camp and 3 weeks of Day Camp left. I cannot believe it has been 3 months since Seasonal Leadership came on board. Where is the time going? And why are we so tired? Oh right, read above.