Hello again everyone,
Welcome to 2016. Can you believe we are already 12 days into this New Year. Doesn't seem to matter what year it is, the pace of life certainly does not seem to be slowing down at all. Just wait until you read about our first week back.
I hope everyone had a great Christmas. Our family took some time to go to Regina for a week and while Regina is not really a must go to destination for a holidaying experience, we had a great time away. My brother and sister live there and so we had a good time visiting with family. My highlight of Christmas was on boxing day evening staying up until 6:30 am playing video games with my brother in law. Now, while some of you may think I am much too old to stay up late and have an epic night of video games, I beg to differ. I wish I was more disciplined in my life to just shut my brain off more often and play video games. Maybe this would help with the stress levels of life and make the pace seem a little slower. You know, a once a week brain shut off might make me think, "wow, it's only January 12" instead of "oh my goodness I cannot believe it is January 12 already!!!!!!!"
Over the Christmas holidays the CLTD's held their annual sleepover event. This is a chance for the CLTD's from the summer to get together, reconnect, hang out and have fun. Our CLTD Coordinator, Marie (Willis), does an amazing job with this program and I love how she hosts varying events to reconnect with the CLTD's throughout the year. Kudos also to Eric (Balloo) Gary (Rahfiki), Evan (Stret), Kylie (Trinket), and John (Wave) who were here helping Marie with the event. We have a lot of leaders who give back to this camp and to the campers.
On Monday we welcomed our newest staff member Site Coordintor Vic Niekraszewicz (don't worry, we are all still learning to say his last name too). Vic is a great addition to our team and we are excited to have him. In just one week here he has already made changes around the camp that were needed. We were really needing a full time person to look after the camp and Vic has just jumped right in a done it. Camp name coming soon.
On Tuesday Assistant Director Collin (Deuce), his wife Shay (Yoshi) and myself went to Trinity Christian Academy in Strathmore. Collin lead worship and I spoke. We had a great time. First of all it was great because we got to see former staff member Dianne Ascott who works there. Secondly I love the opportunities that we get to travel to schools and other organizations to tell the story of Camp Chestermere. Having the chance to talk about this place is fuel to the gas tank. Then I was honoured that they gave me the opportunity to speak. It has been a little while since I spoke so it was nice to get back into the saddle. Felt a little rusty at first but the kindergarden kids in the front row laughed at all my jokes which made it way easier. I'd go speak there anytime. Great event.
However, it was trial by fire for poor Vic as Tuesday was his second day on the job and Collin and I were in Strathmore and Office Manager Chantel (Lilac) had a meeting with Chestermere Recreation. Camp Chestermere is participating in an event this weekend called Go Girl and Chantel is on the planning committee for this event. One of our goals is for Camp Chestermere to be more involved in the community and events like Go Girl are a natural fit for us and we are excited to be a part of it. But for poor Vic, here he is day 2 and holding down the fort. As we say at camp, welcome to camp.
Wednesday was amazing as we all met as a year round staff. One of my favourite parts of this job is the Year Round Team. I LOVE these people. They are all such dreamers who truly care about this place and have AMAZING ideas. One of the best things we have done this past year is to ensure that all members of the Year Round Team are invited to the table to brain storm and dream and work together to help Camp Chestermere be as strong as it can be. Wednesday was another example of how well this team works together. We laughed, connected, debated, disagreed, agreed, and worked. The Year Round Team is an incredible unit and I am humbled to be a part of it.
On Wednesday Night Office Manager Chantel (Lilac) and I attended an Energizer Night at the Chestermere Recreation Centre. This is a great chance to meet people from the community and promote upcoming camp events and it is also a great chance to network. There are a lot of great organizations in the City of Chestermere who are doing some incredible work. I am a firm believer that the more organizations in a community connect and work together, the stronger that community will be. On Thursday night Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) attended a very similar event in Langdon.
Speaking of Assistant Director Collin (Deuce), you should have been around camp on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. A few months ago we had two separate very generous donations of sound equipment from Sunwest Church and First Assembly church. This gear has been sitting in the Chap for months waiting to be installed. Well, on Wednesday and Thursday, Jeremy Brown from Big Guy Productions and Board Member Brad Knibbs (Rusty) installed the new sound gear. I swear, Collin was almost giddy with excitement. But WOW, I am not sure I have ever heard the Chap sound that good. Jeremy Brown is amazing at what he does (seriously, book him for your sound needs, he's amazing) and Brad was a huge help as well. The Chap sounds incredible. This update in sound will have a huge impact on the kinds of events we can host at Camp Chestermere. We still have some work to do but the difference in the Chap from when I started in January 2015 to now is incredible. Thanks Jeremy, Brad and Collin for all your work with this.
On Thursday I had the opportunity to go for lunch with Board Chair Glenn. We had a great time and it is always good to spend time with Board Members. Glenn then came back to the camp and showed Vic around the Lodge. For those of you who do not know, Glenn was instrumental in getting Camp Chestermere the Lodge. Well, he literally built it. Glenn does not get enough recognition for the time, energy and passion he puts into Camp Chestermere and we are grateful that he is a part of our community.
The new sound system was installed just in time for our annual Infuze conference. Infuze is a conference we run for people ages 17 - 117. It is a great conference and this year was no different. Infuze consists of a key note speaker who speaks at four sessions throughout the weekend and then we bring in a number of break out speakers as well. Steve Osmond was our keynote speaker this year and Edvin Alarcon led worship. For those of you looking for either a guest speaker or a worship leader, you have to book these guys. Steve is amazing and Edvin is an incredible worship leader. Our break out speakers included Levi Switzer, Justin Bills, and Joe & Danielle Battiston. What an incredible line of guests. HUGE thank you to Assistant Director Collin (Deuce), Office Manager Chantel (Lilac) and CLTD Coordinator Marie (Willis) for planning and executing this event. Also, thanks to our new Site Coordinator Vic (Camp Name Coming SOON) for jumping right in and ensuring Collin didn't go crazy this weekend. Also, thank you to Sherry (Curry) for all of her efforts in the kitchen. Great job team.
So that was week 1 of 2016. Busy week but awesome. However, not to end this update on a downer but we need your help. The financial situation in Alberta is not great at the moment. On the hockey team I coach, 8 of 16 families have been affected by job loss or job cut backs. The financial situation is now also starting to impact Camp Chestermere. Attendance at our winter camps has been down so far this year and attendance at Infuze this past weekend was less than half of what it was last year. We really believe that part of this has to do with the financial climate. People cannot afford to do things they used to do.
However, we still need your help. While we are a mighty crew of 8 on our year round team, we are only a crew of 8. We need your help in telling the story of Camp Chestermere and promoting upcoming camps and events and letting people know that they can book Camp Chestermere for a wide variety of events. Right now all of our camps, events, and conferences are promoted on social media, on our website, through email, through monthly graphics to our member churches, and by word of mouth. But we need your help to further tell our story and let people know about the amazing things that are happening at Camp Chestermere. We are about to launch our hiring campaign for summer staff and all of our dates for our summer camps are posted on our website. We have some big new things that we will be launching soon and we are excited but again, we need your help to tell our story. Let people know about us, let people know about the things that are happening. Ask us or our member churches for information about upcoming events at Camp Chestermere. And for those of you can, please support of our financial assistance program so that others can come to camp as well.
Thank you again for all your love, support, and prayers. We are believing for big things for the future. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.