Update: August 9-14
Hello again everyone,
Well I am hoping that this update does not take as long as the last one to write. I started the Week 6 update at 9 am this morning and it took more than 12 hours before I sent it. And this is not because I am that slow a typer or because the updates are that long (although some may argue both points). But seriously, that is the pace of camp. There is no such thing as sit and get something done. The pace is always at about a 100 miles an hour and you barely have time to catch your breath. BUT, it is awesome. I love my job. I often catch myself at Fireside, or at a meal time or during an activity time with kids and think to myself, "How am I fortunate enough to be asked to lead this." I am actually starting to become a little emotional that summer is going to end. I mean don't get me wrong, I'm exhausted. I need a break. But I am going to miss these people when I don't see them everyday. Straight up, this is the best job and I feel humbled to be able to do it.
However, camp is a quiet place at the moment. There is a special event happening tonight at the Jack Singer Concert Hall and we sent our entire camp, campers and staff, to it. A ministry who travels internationally called Skull Church is in town and is doing a night of worship and then guest speaker Levi Lusko is speaking. Many of our staff listen to the podcasts from this speaker and say that he is fantastic. Also, one of our former staff members is the main organizer of this event. The event is free but camp has payed to bus everyone there. For more information on Levi Lusko please go to http://levilusko.com and for more information about Skull Church go tohttp://www.skullchurch.com.
I however stayed behind as I am leaving for holidays on Saturday morning and the camp being away has given me the opportunity to catch up on some things I am behind on. Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) is leading the trip and I cannot wait to hear the stories of how it went. I actually just got a call from Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) and he said the night was amazing and everyone is headed back safe and excited about the evening.
Also, as I write this it is raining again outside. Earlier is was just pouring and there was some hail and yes, as I mentioned in my last update, I am getting a little twitchy. However, I love how God works as it is a good thing I stayed behind because when the rain really started coming down the drains outside the lodge began to back up. Fortunately I was able to unclog them before Down Under flooded............ again.
Ok, but that is for the Week 8 update. This is the Week 7 update. For Week 7 we had 103 Day Campers, 118 Overnight Campers, and the 9 first year CLTD's completed their second week of the Foundations program. Due to the low numbers of CLTD's, we also had a work crew. Usually the CLTD's do many chores such as set up and clean the dining room for meals, wash and put away dishes and rake seaweed. However, with only have 9 of them we had to call in a work crew as well. One of the things we have been blessed with this year at camp is staff. People are really buying back into the vision of this place and they want to be a part of it which is super encouraging.
Our guest speaker for Week 7 was Pastor Faye Vecino. She is the children's pastor at River of Life Alliance Church and a long time speaker and supporter at Camp Chestermere. Her kids have gone and worked her. She did an outstanding job. The theme this week was super heroes and she did a great job of talking to the kids about being heroes in their families, communities, and schools.
However, while the theme we set for the camp was superheroes, the kids had a different theme and that was ENERGY. Seriously, they did not quit. They were non stop from 8am until 10pm. They just did not quit. And it wasn't bad energy but just energy. Like wow. Just thinking about it again as I write about it is making me exhausted. I think it was evidence that God has a sense of humour in that He waited until the final kids camp of the summer to send us the most energetic group. It was awesome but there was more than one cabin leader with heavy, heavy eyes at Friday morning breakfast.
We also finally had a great week of weather. No rain. Awesome. And this was probably extra good given the kids energy level. I have no idea how we would have survived if that group of kids would have had to stay inside. Like seriously, one night the leaders of Brown 1, which is our youngest cabin, just sent the kids to run laps to the wide game field and back just to try to tucker the little guys out. CLTD Coordinator Marie (Willis) said, "I was standing outside the Chap and this group of boys just flew past me and so I went to call Baloo to come help and then they buzzed past me again and I realized the cabin leaders were sending them for laps to try to get them tired. I just thought, what is happening?" I am sure those of you who know Willis well can picture her saying "What is happening?" as only Willis can.
Week 7 was also rough for me because my work wife, aka Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) took a week to go on holidays with his family. He showed back up during Dead Cow and I saw him from across the room, sprinted to him and jumped into his arms and said, "You are never allowed to leave again." Picture evidence of this encounter can be found on many social media platforms related to the camp including my own.
I met with Vicki Klinger from the CRCA this week to discuss some ways camp can be more involved in the community. This fall you can expect to hear more about how Camp Chestermere will continue to become more and more involved in the community. I also took some time this week to connect with some of our long term clients who book the camp throughout the year. I am excited about the new opportunities that are starting to present themselves and for the new ways in which camp will be working with organizations from Chestermere and and surrounding area. Details to follow in the fall.
But back to Week 7. Dead Cow this week was Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo and salads. SOOOOO good. Here are some of the highlights that were shared by staff about Week 7.
One of our staff mentioned how he walked into the lodge and saw one of our cabin leaders reading the bible with a boy. Now on the surface this seems like a bit of a nothing story. However, here is the background. This child would not sit still ever. He has been here a couple of times this summer and he is a bit of a handful. However, this cabin leader decided to take this kid under his wing and spent so much one on one time with this kid it was amazing. But then near the end of camp he sat with this kid and pulled out a bible and the two of them sat for a very long time reading it together. It was the longest I had ever seen this little guy sit in one place for more than 5 minutes and they were there for over a half hour, The kid read with our cabin leader, asked questions and kept wanting to read more. It's amazing what happens when our staff take the time to build relationships with kids.
Later that day I found this same cabin leader sitting in the lodge foyer and he was in tears. He was reading his own bible on his own this time and his eyes were just filled with tears. I sat with this cabin leader and asked him what was wrong. He said that he just saw so much of himself in the little guy he had been spending the week with and wished someone had spent that kind of time with him when he was a camper. Seriously, I am getting a little choked up writing this. Here was this 16 year old boy in tears beside me talking about how he wished someone had spent time with him like he did with that boy and he said his heart was broken because he wondered how many kids may go through our camp and may get missed. He said that one promise he made to himself was that kids at camp would not have the same experience he did as a camper. And he was so dedicated to this cause that he was crying in the middle of the lodge foyer. I love our staff.
Another cabin leader mentioned how he walked into the lodge at midnight one night and there was Ben (Gibson) doing the dishes that had been left all by himself. At midnight!!!!! Gibson just wanted to support his fellow staff members and at midnight was doing dishes. We were also able to celebrate with Gibson as he found out this week that a grant that he had been waiting for finally came in and was way more than he expected it to be. He received $19 000 which will more than pay for his schooling and more. Awesome.
We had another story of how Smokey and Thumper worked their tails off to cheer up a camper who wanted to go home. They rolled him up in a mattress like a burrito, did the claw from Liar Liar and much much more. There may have been an incident with duct tape and tether ball pole that I can neither confirm nor deny. But either way, by the end of this hour of working with the kid, the little guy was so excited to stay and be a part of camp and had a great rest of the week. Well done gentlemen.
Asaph told a story of a kid climbing on top of him when he was lying in the field and the kid saying, "Asaph, you make a really good mattress" and Asaph said that the kid was a really good blanket. Then this other kid who heard this came running over and jumped on both of them and said, "Look, now I have a really good mattress and a really good blanket." How does that story not warm your heart just a little bit. Like seriously, this is what we get to do everyday. Amazing.
Another cabin leader told a story of how one day they took their snack to the gym and sat in a circle and just talked while they ate. She talked about how awesome it was to spend some time just connecting with her campers. Another cabin leader talked about how it was starting to dawn on them that the summer was almost over and they were realizing how much they were going to miss this place.
Dan, one of our volunteers, said a little guy came up to him and said how excited he was that he had given his life to Jesus. But then right after that the kid looked at Dan and in the most sincere voice said, "Wow, I really hope I made the right decision." I love the innocence of youth.
Actually, we had some amazing moments in Week 7. A cabin leader mentioned how a kid came up and just held her hand one night during worship while another leader mentioned that the campers taught him about how much God loves him and the campers. Another cabin leader said that this was the roughest week he has had here all summer and then a little guy came up to him and asked the leader to lead him to Christ. And another leader mentioned how he recharges by listening to music but his Ipod had been broken but he prayed about it and it started working and so he was able to recharge. Stories like this and more happen every week. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
So ya, that's week 7. I am not sure when the Week 8 update will come as my family and I leave for holidays on Saturday morning. While I know I will miss this place during Week 9, I am excited to get away and spend some much needed quality time with my wife and kids. Camp life is an all consuming life and so it will be good to step away for a week to chill with fam. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel.