Well, we are just nicely underway into Week 4 at Camp Chestermere and enjoying another nice warm day. We are however recovering a little bit from another wind storm that ripped through here last night. Thankfully we did not receive any significant damage but I have to admit, I am done with wind. Last year at this time I think I said I was done with thunderstorms showing up everyday at 4 pm. I guess that at least the wind storms only pop up every now and then but it was a little scary on night one of Week 4.
Before I update you on Week 3 I have to give you a glimpse of Week 4. We have the missions team from Philadelphia here and they are AMAZING. In just one day they have been to the mustard seed, ripped off two walls from the exterior of the gym, put polly up on one of those ways, taken out the back fence, worked in the kitchen, helped organize part of down under and more. In ONE day. And they are awesome to talk to and hear about the differences between our two countries. Lots of stories coming about this in the next update.
Week 3 was Kids Camp, ages 7 - 11, and we had 106 Overnight Campers, 70 Day Campers, and 11 CLTD's completed their Foundations Program. The theme was Pirates Cove and it was a great week of nice weather and A LOT of kids. Great job staff on ministering to so many kids throughout the week. The week also saw Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) taking a week off for a family vacation. I am happy to report that he had a great time and has come back refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the summer. I am so pleased with how the rest of the staff team stepped up to fill in the gap while Deuce was away. Great job team.
Our guest speaker last week was Tanya Boettcher and she did an amazing job. I had the pleasure of going with Tanya on a missions trip to Germany a few years ago. My highlight of Tanya's speaking actually came on the last day when she used an illustration of a thermometer and a thermostat. She held up a thermometer and asked the campers what it was and asked them what it did. She agreed with the campers when they said that a thermometer is something that measures the temperature of a room. She then held up a thermostat and asked the campers what it did. Again, she agreed with the campers when they said that a thermostat controls the temperature of a room. She then asked a profound question; "Would you rather be a thermometer or a thermostat? Would you rather simply want to take the temperature of a room or would you want to be able to influence the temperature of a room?" #mindblown. She then unpacked it further and said that as followers of Christ we have been called to influence the temperature of society and to not just take the temperature. This was a challenge she was laying down for 7 year olds!!!! I think that's a great challenge and truth for all of us. Thanks Tanya. Great job.
We had the pleasure last week of being visited by former Director Frank Littel (Pumba). I was sitting in the lobby at one point while he was here and overheard one of our Seasonal Staff say to another staff member "the camper in me is freaking out that Pumba is here." It's always nice to have alumni come and visit and say hi. As we have been saying for a while now, one of the goals that we have is to have alumni more involved and connected to the camp. Frank brought out some treats for the staff and was able to take some time to talk to some of the staff as well. Thanks Frank for the visit and the treats.
This week I had the pleasure of taking two of our staff to Peter's Drive Inn for Coach Time. It was awesome. One of the people who came is from Australia and so the other staff member and I gave her a tour of Calgary. We took her to the University, the Olympic Oval, and Canada Olympic Park. She got to sit in the bobsled from the Cool Runnings Movie. Then we took her through downtown and to Stampede Park. A few of the staff had taken her to Stampede the weekend before and she was blown away by the fact that Stampede just goes away after and that the whole place just becomes a parking lot. It's just always cool to be able to see your own city from the eyes of someone who isn't from here. They bring a unique and different perspective. It was a ton of fun.
Thanks again goes out to Site Coordinator Vic (Poppa Smurf) and his wife Kathy (Sweet Pea) for preparing the Dead Cow meal. This week they made pork chops, baked beans and quite possibly the MOST delicious home made coleslaw I have ever had in my life.
After Dead Cow we split into two groups to share our highlights of the week. Here are just a few:
A camper came up to me on Wednesday night and asked me if he could have a Bible. So I went over to Horton's Hut and grabbed one, wrote his name in it and gave it to him. On Friday morning I walked back into the Lodge and our Overnight Team Lead Wolf came up to me and said that this same camper had been looking for me all day on Thursday and couldn't find me and was insistent that he had to talk to me before breakfast was over. The camper then walked up to me and said, "Coach, you know how you gave me a Bible? Well, can I grab one for my sister and surprise her with it in Fireside today because if I go home with one and she doesn't have one then she is going to be jealous and my mom is going to have to deal with drama." Ha, how awesome is that. So ya, we hooked him up with one for his sister as well.
Another Cabin Leader said she was sitting a praying with a child and remarked, "God filled me with so much joy for how much love He has for this little kid."
Another Cabin Leader mentioned how he had a particularly challenging camper in his cabin. The camper wasn't really following instructions and was just kind of being a pain. So the Cabin Leader decided that his best course of action was to get to know the camper. So he took the camper outside and started throwing the football around with him. A few minutes into throwing the football around the camper opened up to his Cabin Leader that he was mad because his dad had just left his mom to be with another woman. The Cabin Leader and the camper kept talking about it while they were throwing the football. Then the Cabin Leader mentioned how he never had a problem with the camper listening again and that he and the camper became friends after that. Like I have said countless times, building relationships is what we do.
Then we had two Cabin Leaders who were co-ing and you would swear they had two different cabins. The one Cabin Leader mentioned how the campers would never sleep and his co mentioned how he never had problems getting them to sleep. The one Cabin Leader would go for night break and the kids would go straight to bed while his co would go for night break and the kids refused to go to bed. It was awesome listening to how two leaders who shared a cabin had VERY different experiences.
One of these two Cabin Leaders told another story that I thought was awesome. Now this was the Cabin Leader who was able to have the campers sleep. He mentioned that one night the campers said they would not go to sleep no matter what. So, this Cabin Leader pulled out his Bible, turned on his flashlight and started reading. Within 10 minutesall the campers were asleep. Now, not sure this is always how we want it to go but I thought it was awesome.
We also had a Cabin Leader who I think set a record for the fastest two incidents reports to ever be written. He had to write not one but two incidents reports at 8 pm..... on Sunday night..... that's only 2 hours into camp. Oh man, he had a bumpy week. He was given lots of support but sometimes you just get a group of campers in your cabin who make life a little more interesting.
Then we had a female camper in Day Camp who decided to pretend to be an 80 year old Russian man named Bebushkov. She spoke in a Russian accent and created this whole character, which, of course, her Cabin Leader was more than happy to play along with. Soon the Cabin Leaders had Russian nick names and it just became a thing. Yup, again, building relationships is what we do.
Our guest speaker got some notes from some campers at the end of the week and the campers asked if the speaker could give the notes to God for them. I just love sometimes how young children see the gospel.
The CLTD's went for a float down the canal and had a great time of bonding and connecting.
Like I've said before I could go on and on with these highlights. So many good stories of Cabin Leaders being with their campers, engaging them in incredible conversations and making sure they have an incredible time at camp. Like we say a lot around here, a successful week is when campers go home with a smile on their face and they wanna come back. Well, I can tell ya that after closing program there were a lot of smiles and a lot of campers who were already telling us about how they are coming back later this summer.
And to end this note, I want to acknowledge how much I love our staff. From our Year Round Team who put in countless hours year round to keep this place functioning; to the Seasonal Leaders who do so many things and face so many challenges and continually rise to the challenge and knock it out of the park time and time again; to our Seasonal Staff, who work basically for free, who face heart breaking stories, who have challenging campers, and who personally take responsibility for children that are not that much younger than them, I say thank you. Thank you staff for what you do. There are so many challenges that go on behind the scenes. So many things that happen, both good and not so good, and these young people, time and time again, step up and meet challenges head on. Yes, sometimes they don't clean up after themselves, and sometimes they stay up too late....way too late, and sometimes they forget to spray and tray their dishes and sometimes they have their phones when they shouldn't and sometimes they make mistakes. But, I love our staff and I am forever grateful for their time, commitment, passion and love for this place, for the children they lead and for the work we do. I know we say it as much as we can internally but once again, thank you staff. You are the ones who make Camp Chestermere the incredible Place to Belong that it is.