Good afternoon everyone,
Last week we held our annual staff training and it was amazing. Not including Year Round and Seasonal Leadership, we have 90!!!!!!!! staff for the summer. Including Year Round and Seasonal Leadership we are close to 120 staff!!!!!!!!! That's amazing. Seriously, we have too many staff and not enough positions. What an incredible problem to have. I think it speaks to the work that our Year Round Team has been doing of living our values and truly striving to be a place to belong. In our first week here at camp we have two people in every cabin, including in Overnight and Day Camp, 7 people on a work crew and 4 volunteers in the kitchen.
Having a Work Crew is an amazing blessing to the camp and especially to Site Coordinator Vic (Poppa Smurf). It's only Wednesday and already this crew has ripped out all the bushes from along the gym and dug a trench so we can fix the flooding problems in the gym, painted all the picnic tables, taken out old tether ball poles so we can set up for our new activity, and started on building a fence. This crew just does not stop. It's amazing.
But back to staff training. The training started on Sunday June 26 with a welcome supper. After that we played a wide game together and then had Fireside. At Fireside I spoke a very similar sermon that I have been speaking at our member churches over the past couple of months on the importance of Relationships, Experiences and Development. I think that is important that everyone in our organization works from the same page, with the same goal and the same message. I believe that our Year Round Team and our Board of Directors has worked very hard over the past year to get us all headed in the same direction and so I think it is important to get all of our Seasonal Staff headed in the same direction as well.
All of the staff are divided into what we call bandana groups for the summer. There are six of these groups, Pirates, Pink, Red, Blue, Splatter, and Camo. Our staff meet in these groups for times of encouragement, prayer and it is a chance for our new people to get to know some people faster. When there are that many people in the room at once it can be a little intimidating for some and so our bandana groups helps everyone get to know some people faster.
Monday and Tuesday was the day of meetings. There is so much information we have to get through including registration process, camper care, helping all campers succeed, discipline policy, how to do devotions, working the different cleaning solutions, emergency procedures, and so much more. The sessions we do are presented by several different members of our Year Round Team and Seasonal Leadership Team. Great job too all who led sessions during the training.
But before we got into all of that we had Connie Jakab join us for our first session with a message on evangelism. Connie Jakab is someone who I have mentioned before and we try to book her as much as we can. She is amazing. Please consider booking her for any event or seminar you may be running. Simply an incredible woman and we are honoured every time she joins us.
One of the cool new things we have been able to establish this year is a partnership with Alberta Health Services. We had someone from Alberta Health Services who specializes in working with children with mental health and self harm issues join us for staff training. She has also made herself available to our Year Round Team and Seasonal Leadership Team to call her throughout the summer should we need some advice and insight on working with some children. We do have children who come to camp who are dealing with depression, anxiety and a number of other mental health issues and, unfortunately, self harm is a growing concern in our society. It is so great to have an expert in the field available to our staff to call.
Another huge part of Staff Training is teaching all of our Seasonal Staff how to run all of the activities. Many thanks go to our Seasonal Leaders who did an incredible job teaching these programs. Also, another HUGE!!!!!!!! thanks goes out to Program Coordinator Lisa (Dutchie) who has been working her tail off to rewrite the curriculums for all of our programs. Lisa (Dutchie) has done an amazing job in improving and expanding the programming at Camp Chestermere. We have many new additions this year and Lisa (Dutchie) did an incredible job to make life as easy as possible on our Seasonal Staff. Seriously, if we could keep her we would. She is incredible in her role as Program Coordinator.
We also teach the staff how to clean all of the areas of the camp. Another change that we have made this year is streamlining the cleaning process. This means that all of the cabins individually have what they need in order to be cleaned. Each cabin has its own solutions, mops, restocking materials, etc. I know this sounds like an obvious thing but it is something that hadn't been done in the past. We also switched to F&G Specialty for all of our solutions last year and so have a whole new protocol on the solutions we use. What was great was that the sales rep from F&G Specialty come and do a full presentation to our staff about each solution we use, what the solution is made of, how to use it properly, etc. I think it is so great the new relationships we have with several different partners and stake holders who take time out of their day to come and work with our staff to help us do what we do better.
In addition to the incredible amount of work we do, there is also a lot of fun had at staff training. One boy described the gender time on Wednesday night as one of the most epic games he has ever played. Let's just say it involved boys, watermelons, slip and slide, and water. Enough said. The staff get the opportunity to participate in skits, camp fires, wide games and much more. All of the staff also had the opportunity to work with our new partner Prairie Pirates. And because it is staff training, the vast majority of our staff stay up way too late but it's all good. They're about to embark on a very exciting, awesome and tiring/exhausting summer. So if they stay up late building relationships with each other then we believe that it is those relationships established at Staff Training that will get them through their tired days during the summer.
Fireside is also an essential part of staff training and we have fireside time nearly every night. Sunday night I spoke, Monday night our Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) spoke, Tuesday night was me again, and Thursday night Canyon Creek Youth Pastor Erik (Baloo) spoke. We had an incredible time corporately worshiping God and spiritually preparing ourselves for the summer.
On Friday we ended our staff training with a commissioning service. Thank you to Board Chair John Picard and Board Member Otto Vaderkooi who attended the commissioning service. It's great to have Board Members out to pray with our staff as they prepare for the summer. Also, thank you to Board Member Alex Wright (Crumpet) who will be working on staff this summer and Board Member Brad Knibbs (Rusty) who will be driving boat.
At the commissioning service we talked about the importance of grace and how we need to have grace for campers, for each other and for ourselves. We talked about how grace is the most surprising thing for some and sometimes the most offensive thing for others. We talked about how we understand justice but we don't always understand grace. It was a great fireside to send us into the summer.
Overall Staff Training was a HUGE!!!!!!!!!! success. Yes there were some bumpy moments with some staff getting a little too much sun, registration taking too long on Sunday night, some staff staying up too late so they were way too tired for sessions and some other minor bumps along the way. But overall staff built relationships with each other, they had some incredible experiences throughout the week and I feel our Year Round Team and Seasonal Leadership Team did an incredible job developing our Seasonal Staff for the summer. Through living our values we continue to find success. Great job team.