Week 5 has come and gone and we are now more than half way through the summer. I have no idea where the time has gone. It seems like yesterday that we were welcoming the Seasonal Leadership Team on site and before we know it we will be done the 2016 Summer Camping Season. Seriously, I feel like if we blink we will miss it.
Week 5 saw our 18 Second Year CLTD's complete their second year program, Discipleship. We had 46 campers in Day Camp and 83 in Overnight Camp. Our numbers in Day Camp during week five are often lower due to the August long weekend. There is no such thing as a long weekend at camp, there's barely a thing called a weekend for that matter, but lots of families take advantage of the long weekend to get away. But even though our numbers were a little lower we still had an incredible week.
Our Guest Speaker for Week 5 was Tanya Boettcher and she did an incredible job. This was her first time ever speaking at a kids camp and man she did great. Night one the girl drops a salvation message and led the worship team. Night one. One of the things that I have loved this year about our guest speakers is they are shattering every misconception of a kids camp. Our guest speakers this year are just presenting the gospel no matter how old the children are and it has been amazing. God has been moving, speaking and it has been an incredible summer of divine appointments.
Week 5 saw one of our Seasonal Leaders step up in a big way. Our Program Coordinator Lisa (Dutchie) was off for week 5. Her assistant May (Flower) stepped up in a huge way and with help from Overnight Female Team Lead Glynna (Ray) programs ran incredibly well. I just love how time and time again our leaders step up and make things happen. It is incredible to watch. Great job Flower.
Special mention to of Molly (Misty) and Reagan (Finn) who stepped into Seasonal Leader roles this week due to time off of other staff. Great job ladies.
The theme of Week 5 was super heroes and on Wednesday we had real life super heroes out at the camp. Members from the Chestermere Fire Department and RCMP came out for an hour and interacted with the campers and staff. Campers were able to climb through the fire truck, sit in the police cars and speak with the real life super heroes. After we took a picture and posted it on our social media accounts. Camp Chestermere would like to express its deepest appreciation for the work that our Emergency Services People do and the way they support the community. Thanks to the Fire Department and RCMP for coming out for the day and interacting with our campers and staff. Great day.
Week 5 also saw our CLTD's do their service day with Street Light Ministries. Camp Chestermere has been working with Street Light for a few years now. StreetLight started in October 1992 with a goal to reach street orientated and sexually exploited youth (ages 12-24). StreetLight’s purpose is to assist these youth in making the best decisions for their lives by building strong friendships with them and helping them in any way they can to better their lives. StreetLight works together with other street orientated agencies and the community to better assist youth in a positive lifestyle change. StreetLight makes an impact on the lives of hundreds of street and sexually exploited youth! We are honoured to be able to partner with them and have our CLTD's assist them in the work they do. The CLTD's help with various tasks including cleaning the StreetLight truck. Great job CLTD's and great work done by StreetLight.
As you may recall, in May of this year we partnered with the Chestermere Ag Society to put on an event called Country Connections. Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) and myself met with their board this week to further discuss partnership opportunities. It was a great conversation and some great possibilities emerged. Thank you also to the Waiting Room Cafe for hosting our meeting. We love the Waiting Room Cafe and it is the perfect atmosphere for a meeting or just to grab a cup of coffee with a friend. Please visit them and say hi from Camp Chestermere. You'll be glad you did.
The weekend of Week 5 ended with us hosting a wedding for 170 people. Yup, after a week of working with campers, we still have the ability to host a big wedding. It was incredible. Thanks to Assistant Kitchen Manager Sherry (Curry) and all of the others who helped to make the wedding a success including Jordie (J-Bazz), Adam (Betty), Andrew (Coopa), Sydney (Coopa), Ann (Roo), Chelsea (Berry), Hanna (Quinoa), Brad (Thumper), Courtney (Crayola), Daniel (wind) and my wife Michelle. Great job team.
During the wedding we had yet another storm blow threw. During the storm I get a panic phone call from my son Evan that Down Under is flooding...... again. Seriously, like every time we get a heavy rain fall, Down Under floods. And the ground is so saturated with water right now that the problem has been exasperated. So here we are with 170 people celebrating a wedding upstairs and 2 plus feet of water in each stairwell. HUGE thank you to Overnight Male Team Lead Micaiah, Summer Staff Members Rachel (Lampshade), Reagan (Finn) and my son Evan who, through their efforts, saved the lodge from a lot of damage. Seriously, I am so far past done with rain and flood damage that I can't even describe it. We have started to take some new steps to see if we can solve some of the flooding and drainage problems at the camp but it is an uphill battle let me tell you. If anyone out there has some drainage expertise then I would love to chat with you. It is certainly a headache at camp. But wow is it ever awesome to see our staff step up time and time again to keep the damage to a minimum. To watch poor Kiwi stand in an absolute downpour while bailing water from the stairwell is an incredible site. Like the guy got drenched. Great job team.
Now this is usually the part in the Weekly Update where I tell you all about the staff highlights from the week. However, this week we unfortunately did not have the opportunity to do weekly highlights as our normal proceedings were interrupted with some tragic news. During Final Gratis, at approx. 5:15 on Friday, we learned that one of our long time campers, who was scheduled to come again this year to teens week, had unfortunately passed away that morning. Meldina Krajinovic was someone who our staffed worked with a lot and at times paid for so she could come to camp. She was just 18 years old at the time of her passing.
We decided not to tell staff until after final gratis. The few staff members who knew all gathered together in the board room. We served firsts for Dead Cow and then at the start of seconds we announced Meldina's passing. We made this decision to allow people to grieve together and we did this in place of weekly highlights. What I do want to tell you is my highlight from what happened next.
Over and over again you have heard me say that our number one value at Camp Chestermere is Relationships. Our motto, A Place To Belong, is driven by this value. Well on Friday I saw this value lived out. On our staff we have a mix of people who knew Meldina very well, some who only sort of knew her and some who did not know her at all. However, I watched as staff stayed and supported each other. One boy in particular was especially broken up about her death. I watched as he sat at a table with a group of other boys for a half hour and he just talked about Meldina and processed how he was doing. The other boys had never met Meldina but they sat and listened and comforted their friend. I watched staff member after staff member surround, comfort, cry with and pray with each other. So the highlight of Week 5 is watching how our staff take care of each other. How they live the value of Relationship. The value of Relationships did not start when the current leadership team took over but it started 63 years ago when Camp Chestermere was established. It is in the DNA of Camp Chestermere. Building Relationships is the core of who we are and I am so proud of the staff as they continue to take care of each other through this recent tragedy.
Tragedy has been a bit of a story line of the past few months at Camp Chestermere. In February we lost a staff member Jordan (Jar Jar) who we named our Financial Assistance program after. One of our Seasonal Leaders lost a grandfather last week and another Seasonal Leader found out that classmate from high school just passed away. But again, my heart is warmed as staff members ask for prayer and support, seek help and comfort from each other, cry with each other and just simply do life together. This truly is A Place To Belong and I feel humbled and blessed to be a part of Camp Chestermere.
Please continue to keep our staff in your prayers. As I write this today we are scrambling for ways to cover staff who would like to go to the memorial tonight. But, again, because we believe in Relationships we will do whatever needs to be done so that the staff who want to go can go. Kids will be taken of and staff will go and mourn with others. But please, do keep us in your prayers. We have a lot of hurting young people right now who have had to process a lot of grief and loss in the past 6 months. It doesn't always make sense but we know God is good all the time and all the time God is good. I see His goodness in the way we mourn together and am comforted by the fact that we serve a God who mourns with us.