Update: Jan 15-Feb 1

Good evening everyone,

So I blinked and then it was February. Actually I blinked and an entire year has gone by. It has now been just over a year since my family and I decided to make the transition to move to Camp Chestermere and take on the role of Camp Director. And the past year has been an incredibly exciting, scary, thrilling, overwhelming, rewarding, stressful, and awesome....... blur. As I sit here on my couch drinking hot chocolate and writing this latest update I think to myself, "has it really been a year??? Where did the year go??"

Speaking of hot chocolate, we have some cool stuff to let you in on in this update. Sooo, stop reading, go grab some java, tea, or hot coco, or water, or whatever you prefer, curl up and have a good read. Trust me, there's an announcement near the end worth reading this through for.

The past couple of weeks have been up and down. Unfortunately we didn't have quite as many rentals as we have had over the past couple of months but this is to be expected as schools get back into the swing of things. However, last week we had a school here from Monday to Wednesday and then another school here on Thursday and Friday. Then on the weekend we had our latest School Year Camp for 7 - 11 year olds.

Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) has been on tour a few times this month promoting camp and recruiting staff for the summer. As mentioned in the last update, Collin (Deuce), his wife Shay (Yoshi), and myself attended chapel in Strathmore at Trinity Christian School. Collin (Deuce) has continued to be on tour as he attended Camp Days at both Prairie Bible Institute and then again at Ambrose. CLTD Coordinator Marie (Willis) also joined Collin at Ambrose and Collin's wife Shay (Yoshi) joined him at Trinity. There is a hilarious video on our website of a sketch that was done at Prairie. I would say it captures what we are all about fairly well...... sort of. Ha. No but seriously, it's great. Thanks Collin for all you do to talk about the camp, promote upcoming events and recruit staff. It seriously is a treat to work with the guy because he is so ridiculously passionate about this place and does an incredible job. Thanks also to Marie (Willis) for your help at Ambrose as well.

Camp Chestermere also continues to be involved in events that are going on in the community. Office Manager Chantel (Lilac) was heavily involved in a recent event called Go Girl held at the Chestermere Rec Centre. This was an awesome event for girls from all around the community. Allison Springer was the special guest speaker at this event. Allison is someone who we have speak at Camp Chestermere as much as we can. She's great. Also, thank you to Bookkeeper Heather (Bookie) for stepping up and helping with promoting Camp Chestermere while at the Go Girl event. Heather (Bookie) hosted a booth over the lunch hour. One of the strongest parts of our team is how we all support each other in the various areas in which we work and that our staff doesn't limit themselves according to their job titles or job descriptions. People step in and support each other and it's awesome to see and be a part of.

We have been involved in a number of other community events this month as well. Chantel (Lilac) and Collin (Deuce) both attended an awards ceremony where we received second place in The Newsy Neighbour contest for Best Family Entertainment. Thank you to all of you who voted for us in that. Maybe next year we can get first. Collin (Deuce) also attended a worship night at Siksika Nation on behalf of Camp Chestermere and our partnership with Heritage Christian Academy for our camp at the end of the month (more on this coming). Chantel (Lilac) also attended a meeting for Chestermere Plays which is a family event that is happening later this month at the Rec Centre. Collin (Deuce) was also at a meeting an interagency meeting where not for profits gather to discuss what they are doing and how we can support each other. It's a great time of sharing, learning, and networking. And finally, Chantel (Lilac) and myself attended a meeting for Special Needs Children and Young Adults. Whew, that's a lot of 'also's' but we do go to a lot of community meetings, gatherings and events.

I've mentioned this in past updates but one of the things I love about Chestermere is how the local not for profits are exploring different ways to work together on a variety of projects. The latest dream is to explore ways to better serve people with special needs in our community. Camp Chestermere sees a number of ways we could help including speaking with parents about how we can accommodate their children in our regular camp programming, planning camps specifically for children with special needs, working with other not for profits to support initiatives for children and young adults with special needs, and by looking at ways we could hire young adults who have special needs to work at Camp Chestermere. There was a lot of very good conversation and it was a great event to be a part of. More information about all of this coming soon.

Camp Chestermere Board also met again this month. It's always good to connect with our board and dream together about the future of Camp Chestermere. There are many people on the board who have served the camp for a long time and/or who have been significantly impacted by this place. Always great to see people giving back to the camp.

We also have two HUGE announcements to make. One is about the Chestermere Agricultural Society and an event that we are going to be doing with them and another is about an amazing new program we will be offering starting in May. But...... this update is already too long and I still have a winter camp to talk about and an AMAZING and incredibly EXCITING announcement to make.

Ok, I can't take it anymore. I have to make this announcement. It has been killing me keeping this on the DL and so I am so pumped that I can share this. A lot of you already know about this but it is still cool to talk about. Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) and his wife Shay (Yoshi) are expecting their FIRST BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! C'mon, how awesome is that. We are soooooooo stoked, excited and happy for them. For now we are ignoring the fact that the due date is like the start of August, yup, right smack dab in the middle of summer camping season, but whatever. This is huge. This is bigger than huge. This is amazingly huge. Congrats you two. The jury is still out on whether or not the baby's camp name will be De-yosh (say it with some gangsta flare and it's awesome) but that'll come later. But new baby coming to Camp Chestermere. YAY!!!!!!!

And finally, this past weekend was amazing. We held a school year camp for our 7 - 11 year olds and it was just awesome. Thank you again to our staff who come out and volunteer for these weekends. Yup, that's right. For those of you who don't know, our cabin leaders and seasonal leaders do not get paid for School Year Camps. They do it because they love this place and they love kids. We cannot thank them enough because if it were not for their sacrifice School Year Camps would not happen. Thank you also to our entire year round team for the incredible work you put in pulling these camps off. There is a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that a lot of people don't see or know about but it is work that needs to be done for camps to be a successful time for kids. Thank you staff for all that you do.

I also want to share something that I shared on social media on Friday night. Friday during Fireside I was sitting back and watching what was happening and I wrote this:

"Sometimes as a Director you can get caught up in the complexity and day to day grind that is the work of the camp. And sometimes that work can be draining, exhausting and cause one to become weary. Worrying about budgets, rentals, writing grants and contracts, doing and planning for renovations, planning building projects, and on and on and on. The stress grows, the energy fades and the passion sometimes grows a little dimmer. People around you feel sometimes feel let down and sometimes I feel so inadequate, overwhelmed and unable to do the job. And then a school year camp for 7 - 11 year olds comes along and all of a sudden, all of the stuff that sucks the life right outta ya, doesn't seem to matter any more. I greet kids in the lobby who come with huge smiles on their faces because they are excited to come. Some kids walk in a little scared because it's their first time at camp. But one little joke, an affirming comment, or a quick high five and suddenly all is fine. I watch cabin leaders in the Chap dancing with kids. I watch as a cabin leader buddies up with a kid who can't sit still and he takes the kid over to a corner and they make a car track out of tape. And the cabin leader and kid play cars while the speaker is talking. Suddenly a kid who can't sit still feels wanted, included and welcomed. I watch 17 - 18 year old leaders pick up children who stub their toe and cuddle with them until the tears go away and the smile returns. I listen as a young girl with FAS calls me over and says, "Coach, I made a present for you but I forgot it at home. It says that you are more special than you know." I watch as as kids make these amazingly ridiculous Oscar mashup movies (the spoiler alert video was amazing). And I watch and listen to all of this and more and remember, this is what matters. Ya budgets are important and attending meetings and furthering partnerships in the community matters. But what really matters, what really should get me up every morning and fill me with the fuel and motivation to get through the day is the kid who right now as I write this has been sitting behind me playing cars for 30 minutes (did I mention he doesn't sit still). What matters are the kids who right now are screaming with delight and laughing while Deuce is trying to talk. What matters is when I walk up to the lodge and find a group of leaders all connecting and laughing and building community. This is camp. This is what brings the fuel to the tank. This is why the grant matters. This is why getting donations matter. This is why the budget matters. Cause there are generations of kids who need generations of leaders who will sit on the floor and play cards with them. God, I love my job. Thank you Father for the reminder tonight."

This is why we do what we do. Because we love kids. We love people. We love mentoring leaders and watching them grow as they lead others. We love watching kids grow and learn. We love this place, we love what we do and most of all, we love Jesus.

Blessings everyone.

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