I'm so excited to be able to give everyone my first "Weekly Update" on the past couple of weeks.
Summer is OVER?!??!?! What happened? It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming our Seasonal Leadership Team and now we are already in the fall season.
During the August 21st weekend, we had our staff retreat where we celebrated the summer, took time to thank the staff, and created some memories along the way. Our staff have been working so hard throughout the summer to make sure these campers truly know they belong at Camp Chestermere. Coming off of an amazing teen's week, we wanted to make sure that the staff team was able to reflect on the summer gone by and worship God for what he had done.
On Friday night, I had the privilege of leading worship where we asked the staff to share what was on their heart. One of the most encouraging things to hear was how uplifting the staff team was towards each other. Half of the testimonies were loving words of affirmation and 'thank you's' from one staff member to the entire team. So many staff came forward to share how blessed they were by one another, and how they truly felt as though they were accepted this summer. Nothing brings me more joy than hearing those kinds of testimonies.
Saturday was an amazing, fun-filled day of memories. We went to Jimmy's for some shawarma. For those of you who don't know what shawarma is, or have never been to Jimmy's before - imagine heaven touching your tastebuds....you're close. We have made this a tradition at camp, and it always has its fill of stories. One of the most encouraging things was to see one of our staff step up and pay (with what little money they had already) for one of the other staff's meals. This didn't just happen once, but at least on three separate occasions. This was such an amazing team this year - I cannot tell you how blessed we were by these staff. On a quick side note: Jimmy gifted the staff team with a free tray of baclava for the second year in a row - what a guy!
Saturday was also a time where our Office Manger Chantel Woolly (Lilac) orchestrated a fantastic murder mystery fairytale themed dinner party. She had been working so hard to prep this event and it went off so well. All of our staff bought in - and a lot of them are amazing actors. We had princes, princesses, dwarfs, wolfs, lumberjacks, and pretty much every fairytale character you could ever imagine. Prince Charming (played by Jason Rochon) was kidnapped, princesses were being 'killed off' and there was frantic questioning everywhere you looked. It was amazing.
Sunday we were blessed by Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship coming out and doing a baptism service in tandem with our staff service. This was such a great event as both members of Canyon Creek, and some camp staff decided to get baptized by water. Nathan Herras (Zang), Aaron Herras (Batman), Michaiah Sinanan (Kiwi), Brad Hunter (Thumper), Kaidon Nickel (Tardus) and Chloe Nickel (Oxygen) all decided to make that public declaration of their faith. It was so amazing to see these staff take the plunge into the murky water and come out clean! It was such a wonderful morning and we know that the heavens were rejoicing!! Later that week, Bennett Dykstra (Wolf) also decided to get baptized and invited his community out. It was so encouraging to see a staff team, exhausted from the work day, to go support Bennett in his decision on Thursday evening. We spent the night in worship and in celebration! What a staff team, and what an amazing God we serve. We posted all of our photos on Instagram if you want to check it out @campchestermere - we also decided to create a Camp Chestermere Snapchat account so follow our daily goings on at: lovecampc
Heading into Week 9, we were expecting a slower week. There was no overnight program, I was speaking, we would gradually be able to have our work crew take on each individual project to clean up the camp, and even though Director Shannon Dean (Coach) and his family took a MUCH needed vacation, we expected everything would be fairly lax in comparison to other weeks..........boy were we wrong...
The smoke coming up from the forest fires in the United States gave us some difficulties on the program side since we had to stay indoors more than we'd normally like to. It was something that needed to be done because above all else, we care about the safety of these children. However, the program team knocked it out of the park with a lot of different ideas to spruce up our indoor programming. Additionally, our work crew had a large list of tasks to do - and when I say large, I'm not giving the list enough credit. But with hard work and determination, they got the site clean, organized and even inventoried throughout the week. We received feedback from some long time camp parents that this was the cleanest they've seen the site in years. Our Food Services Manager Ruth Styles (Momma Ruth) and her husband Dan (two of the hardest working people I know) continuously gave the work crew praise for how hard they were working - that means something coming from those two. With everything getting cleaned up, and the amazing work the staff did in week 9, it was important to us as a leadership team to give back to the staff. To do so, we went to Boston Pizza for dinner on Friday as a final wrap up and thank you for all their hard work. As stories were shared, it was clear to me that this staff team truly did care about each other, this was even evident by the fact that there were multiple "staff only" parties the next day!
Throughout the next week, I continued to finish up the evaluations of the staff. As I was writing the closing statements, I really began to appreciate how blessed we are. Most organizations would kill for staff that would buy in, and support one another like this team did. No matter the situation, this team accepted every child and walked along side of them. They embodied our slogan and made Camp Chestermere a place to belong for so many. I would easily give all of them a letter of recommendation. This was a wonderful season, with amazing people, who all
serve a big God. We truly praise God for summer 2016, and we know that summer 2017 is going to be even better!
Going forward, the year round staff have been pressing into our fall calendar. We are wanting to get our voice in a lot of the local schools in both Calgary and Chestermere, letting people know about who we are, and what we offer. Our rentals are continuing to climb, which is a huge blessing. We are especially looking forward to our upcoming winter camps. Teens weekend is just around the corner (October 2-4th) and we can't wait to show these teens some of the amazing things that makes this camp great (along with a few surprises).
Director Shannon Dean (Coach) will for sure have a lot to say about how we are looking to revamp our mission/vision statements to truly get at the core of what Camp Chestermere is all about - but I'll let him take that on in the next update.