Summer 2017 Week 1 Highlights

Well, we are well into Day 2 of Week 2 here at Camp Chestermere.........

That's when I started this email. And now it is the end of Week 2 and I am just finishing/sending this email. Ahhh, you gotta love the pace of this place

............and it has been a great start to the 2017 Summer. The weather has been HOT HOT and more HOT. The message to staff has been to pump as much water as possible into kids and when you're done pumpin water into them, give them some more. I remember learning the lesson the hard way my first year here when I learned that hot weather + candy from Horton's Hut + not enough water = a lot of kids puking. Avoiding having to learn that lesson again this year. And, at least today is a little cooler which will help with the temperature in the cabins at night. And, at least it is not like last summer where we could set our watches by the storm hitting at 4 pm everyday.

Week 1 was Kids Camp and so we had campers here ages 7 - 11. Our numbers were a little lower in Week 1 as we had 76 overnight campers, 30 Day Campers and 18 3rd Year CLTD's.

But, before I talk about Week 1, I need to back up one more week and tell you about the week that was Staff Training. The last week of June was staff training and it was awesome. The ebbs and flows of this place are still something I am getting used to. From September to May we operate at full swing with a staff of 5 full timers and 2 part timers. Then during the first week of May we jump to a staff of 20 and then at staff training we had 80 staff and 18 3rd year CLTD's. And then, two months from now, we will be back to our small, but mighty, crew of 7.

Staff training saw nearly 100 people here getting ready for camp. During staff training the staff learn how to lead the activities, get instruction on working with campers with all sorts of special needs, learn how to do gratis in all areas of the camp and on and on and on. Everyday of staff training is packed full as we try to prep the staff for what is ahead. Great job to all of our Year Round Team and Seasonal Leadership Team who spend a lot of time prepping for staff training and then in leading various sessions according to their area of expertise.

We also build in times of bonding and fun. This year the entire staff came to one of my men's league hockey games. It was crazy. 80 young people packed into the Chestermere arena all going crazy and cheering while cheering on a bunch of old guys who are way past their prime. There were posters, painted chests, chants and more. The boys on my team were deeply touched by the kids coming out and it was a blast. Unfortunately my team couldn't get the win but the two teams skated to a tie. Lots of fun.

AND, the end of Staff Training ended with a very exciting event. Our very own Seasonal Leader Lisa Nieuwenhuis got married. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so exciting for us to be able to host her wedding and to be a part of her special day. Congrats to Andrew and Lisa Fox on their wedding.

Now back to Week 1. Again, Week 1 was Kids Camp and the theme was Western. We were excited to have Marilyn Schwab back with us again this year. Seriously, if you are looking for someone to be a speaker at a kids event, book this woman. She is engaging, funny, and just solid. Last year was her first year ever at a camp, like ever. She had never been to camp as a kid growing up and had not had the opportunity to speak at a camp until last year. Now she is becoming one of our must have speakers. She does such an incredible job with the kids.

Even though the numbers in Day Camp were low, it was a bit of a blessing in disguise as it gave the new Day Camp Staff a chance to try out the brand new curriculum that was written for this summer. We have been working very hard over the past few months on revamping our Day Camp Curriculum. We really want the Overnight and Day Camps to have a different feel. HUGE thank you's go to Day Camp Team Lead Darcy (Brother Bear) and Office Assistant Amanda (Calico) for the countless hours they have put in on the new curriculum. So far so good with this new curriculum and we look forward to seeing how it plays out for the rest of the summer.

My favourite part of the week is the Dead Cow Ceremony at the end of the week. On Friday night after the staff have finished cleaning, we gather for a meal and celebrate the week. Each staff member shares a highlight from their week including Seasonal Staff, Seasonal Leadership and Year Round. It is great to hear from everyone including the cabin leaders, office people, kitchen programs and everywhere else.

Here are a few of the stories from Week 1:

One of our cabins this week was particularly challenging. 7 year olds can be fun, in so many ways. However, we had one particular group of 7 year olds that seemed to continually push the line of what was ok and what wasn't. Finally one night they pushed a little too far and one of our Cabin Leaders needed to be a little more strict in his tone with them. However, this Cabin Leader was aware that there was a child in the cabin who had autism. He called that child over and asked him to head back to his cabin where his co would take care of him. Then he closed the wash house door and had a stern talking to with the other campers. What I love about this story is the Cabin Leader, who is 19 by the way, had enough presence of mind to realize he needed to get a situation under control but needed to first remove a child from that situation to help that kid. These are things that happen behind the scenes here all the time by an incredible group of young people. Great job.

We have several new staff here this year. During our Weekly Highlights time a number of these new staff mentioned how welcomed they felt at the camp and several of them thanked their Co-Cabin Leader for mentoring them through the week. Huge thank you goes out to all of our experienced Cabin Leaders for doing a great job not only making a our new staff feel welcomed but helping them through the first week. The learning curve is huge and there is lots that happens. Great job team.

There were lots of stories this week of pranks with kids, having fun, spraying people with hoses, horsing around with campers, water fights, and shenanigans all over the place. One of the things we say here all the time is that one of our measures of success is that kids go home with a smile on their face and they wanna come back. Mission accomplished in so many ways in Week 1.

One of the cool new features that has been added to our camp this year is 1 on 1 or 1 - 3 care for campers. We applied for a grant through STEP this year and we have 3 staff who are funded to provide specialized care for campers who may need some extra help in some way. This has been a HUGE new addition to our camp and we are now better able to respond to campers who may need some extra attentive care. We are hoping to expand on this program in the future and be able to offer more access to campers with special needs. This is us dipping our toe in the water on this program and we would love to expand it. Please keep this in your prayers.

On the weekend we had a local church join us for a retreat. They were an amazing group and it was great having them. Huge thanks to the staff who put in the extra time for this group. These extra bookings really help our bottom line and it is always great getting to know another local faith community.

So still lots going on. On a side note, if you like driving boat, we are in need of some volunteer boat drivers for our Power Tubing program. This is a huge part of our programming and kids love it. So, if you have some time this summer to come out during the day and drive boat then please contact Assistant Director Collin (Deuce) at and he can hook you up.

Thanks again for your ongoing prayers and support. It's appreciated.

Shannon Dean

Camp Director

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