What an incredible few weeks it has been at Camp Chestermere. I have absolutely no idea how it is the middle of March. This year has been flying by. I am almost ready for February to start but April is just around the corner. Can someone please slow the days/weeks/months/hours down just a little. It is crazy to think that in less than a month and a half the 2017 Seasonal Leaders will be here and then just a short 8 weeks later Staff Training Starts. WHAT?????? We are so not ready/ have no choice but to be ready. If someone could please add a few more hours to the day that would really help us out.
Speaking of Seasonal Leadership Staff, I have to admit that I made a terrible oversight and I feel awful about it. When we announced our 2017 Seasonal Leadership Team we somehow left one person off of the list. Kaidon Nickel (Tardus) will be joining us on the team as the Gateway Coordinator. This is a new position that has been added over the past couple of years. We work with the Calgary Police Service and provide volunteer opportunities for young people who have had small brushes with the law to come and volunteer at Camp Chestermere in order to avoid having a criminal record. Amazing program. We are currently working with the RCMP and other organizations on ways to expand this program. Kaidon (Tardus) will be coordinating this program and working with our Year Round Team on ways to expand this work. Kaidon (Tardus) has been with us for two summers now as a Seasonal Staff Member. Last year he spent most of his time working with kids with special needs. Kaidon has an incredible testimony and we are stoked to have him on the team. AND, as one more praise item, this position is being fully funded through a grant from the United Way. Thank you to the United Way and to Family & Community Support Services (FCSS) Chestermere for your incredible support of this program.
February saw us host two School Year Camps (SYC) in one month (ya, that was a little crazy). In the same month we had two SYCs, two teachers conventions and our own CCI convention. Not to mention the incredible number of bookings we had. WOW, it was a busy month.
Anyway, back to the SYCs. There was a Kids 7 - 11 Camp the first weekend in February and a Teens 14 - 18 Camp the last weekend in February. The Kids Camp had 72 campers, 9 CLTD's, 12 missionaries from Heritage Christian Academy (more on that in a moment), and our guest speaker was Marilyn Schwab. Marilyn has spoke here beofre and she does a great job with kids. The Kids SYC was run in cooperation with the Heritage Christian Academy (HCA) Junior High Missions Team. The students in this group planned and ran the camp. One of the most powerful times of the camp was that each HCA student gave their testimony at different times throughout the camp. It was amazing to listen to these grade 7 - 9 students, mostly grade 7, talk about their walk with Jesus. So powerful.
The second SYC was a Teens Camp ages 14 - 18. For this camp we had 27 campers, 17 staff, and Colton Willms was our guest speaker. Colton has been involved with the camp for a number of years now as a boat driver, helped with CLTD when CLTD leaders were away and spoke at CLTD. But this was the first time he has spoke at a camp. The man is an AMAZING speaker. Seriously, book this guy. Crazy good. Thank you to Erik Davis (Baloo) and Canyon Creek Church for bringing your youth to Teens SYC. We'd love to partner with other churches who may not be able to afford to do a weekend retreat on their own and wouldn't mind joining other groups as well.
We would also like to say another HUGE thank you to the staff who come out and work these weekends. None of our staff are paid for SYC’s. They all come on a volunteer basis. It is always a blessing and amazing to see these young people come back time after time so that we are able to run these weekends.
We had 31 people sign up for one day each to pray for Camp Chestermere. We appreciate everyone who took on this endeavour. We had some great feedback from some people and posted feedback that we received on all of our social media platforms. This is an initiative we are going to continue and we are exploring ways to improve. You can check some of the prayers and what people heard from God about Camp on our Facebook page using #lovecampc. I do not think that it is an accident nor a coincidence that shortly after our month of prayer we finished off our HUG Campaign. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
Many of our staff had the opportunity to go the CCI Conference at Camp Nakamun at the end of February. The theme was “The Way of the Wilderness”. This is a great chance for our staff to connect with other people who are in the camping industry. My favourite time is something called Kindred Groups where I have a chance to sit with other Directors and learn from them. There is nothing like sitting with a colleague who does what you do and gets it. There are a lot of great resources and sessions at this conference and the keynote speaker this year was AMAZING. It was a great conference and each of our staff took something away from it.
It was also cool that former Camp Chestermere Director Frank Littel was there. He is back in Alberta and is now the Director of Kings Fold Retreat and Renewal Centre. Great to have a fantastic resource close to home. Frank led some sessions and it was great to connect with him again.
One of the best parts of my job is seeing young people develop in their faith, skills and abilities. Last week I had the pleasure of going for breakfast with former Seasonal Leader Erik Davis (Baloo) and then I got to hear him speak at Heritage Christian Academy. He did an incredible job. So cool to continue relationships with our alumni.
And finally, we continue to explore new partnership opportunities with people in and around Chestermere. This week Camp Chestermere hosted the interagency meeting and we are heavily involved in the planning of Seniors Week that will be held in June. We are again partnering with the Chestermere Ag Society for Country Connections at the end of May and we are exploring some partnership opportunities to digitally archive the great history of Camp Chestermere. In other words, there is a lot going on.
Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Sometimes we grow weary, sometimes the stress seems a little much but then the Office Manager comes down the hall with a report that says we completed HUG, you watch a young man grow in his ability to speak, and we see partnerships growing and more people wanting to be involved in what we do. We see young people give up two entire weekends to serve for free and we remember that this really is an awesome place. I say it often but maybe not enough, God is good all the time and all the time God is good.