Hello everyone and welcome to Week 5. We are back into a Kids Camp, 7 - 11 year olds, this week and again, there are a lot of them. Pray for us as we have a few of our Seasonal Leadership Staff on holidays this week. But, while it creates new challenges when our Seasonal Leadership take their week long break, well deserved by the way, it does create opportunities for others to step into the roles of leadership. We're excited this week to have Crayola stepping up to be on the Programs Team and to have Vendetta stepping into the role of media. I'm confident that they're both going to great.
Ok, before I do the usual update about a week at camp, I have to tell you about the amazing group that we had here from Philly for Week 4. Back in October 2016 I was contacted by Brian Russo who is the Director of Youth and Senior Adults at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill (PCCH) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was planning a missions trip and they were looking for a camp to come to in Alberta. Well, they found us and we are so happy and blessed that they did.
While here, the group from PCCH did a number of things including renovate the exterior of our Gym, prepare and serve meals at the mustard seed, removed the old fence at the lower end of the camp, cleaned the windows at the Chestermere Public Library, helped Synergy install the new mural in John Peak Park, painted large planters in Langdon, helped prep meals in our kitchen, served a meal here at the camp for CLTD, and more. They were busy. And WOW were they AMAZING. What a great group of young people to work with. On top of all the work they were doing they also interacted with our staff, played games with campers and had an amazing time power tubing with Site Coordinator Vic (Poppa Smurf).
I had been wracking my brain for the past few weeks trying to think of something very Canadiana to do with them and then I finally figured out while watching the news on Wednesday night. I learned that the Junior A Lacrosse Provincial finals were happening at Max Bell Arena. I called Andrew McBride who is the Head Coach for the Raiders and told him about the group that was here, what they were doing and how they'd never seen box lacrosse before. Coach McBride invited the group to come and allowed us all to get in for free. It was a blast. By the end of the game the Americans, who had never seen the sport before, were chanting, singing, cheering and maybe having a chirp or two for the opposing bench. The Raiders ended up winning the game in overtime. It was awesome. Thank you to the Junior A Okotoks Raiders and Coach McBride for giving this group an awesome Canadian experience.
We cannot say enough good things about the work this group did and we are so excited for how the Gym is starting to look and how it will look when it is all done. Both the Philly Team and our staff have written Bible verses, words of blessing, words of encouragement, prophetic words and prayers all over the shell of the Gym before it was covered up. Thank you to the team from Philly from everything you did. It was awesome meeting and working with extended family.
Now, on to the rest of the update for Week 4. Week 4 was Middle Camp, ages 11 - 15, and we had 85 campers in Day Camp, 90 in Overnight and 25 2nd year CLTD's. This was on top of the 25 people we had here from Philly. BUSY!!!! Which is great.
Our guest speaker last week was Justin Bills. Justin is the lead pastor at Canyon Creek which is one of our member churches. At the beginning of the week Justin posted this on his Facebook page: "So excited to be back at camp Chestermere this week sharing with 11-15 year olds. My theme is a simple one. Of all the lessons I've learned in my short 32 years alive there is one that stands above the rest: God is kind, slow to anger and abounding in love. Not only because the Bible says it but because I've known it deeply in my heart in the lowest moments of my life." And then at the end he posted: " I had many meaningful conversations with campers and could feel His presence in the sessions. It was awesome! I may sleep for days now though." Thanks Justin for doing an amazing job as always. We were truly blessed to have you with us.
Now for a bit of an apology and a plea for grace and understanding. For those of you who follow our updates closely you know that Momma Ruth resigned from her position at the camp back in April of this year. She was back in town this week for her 50 Wedding Anniversary and so on Friday night after Dead Cow we had a celebration for Momma Ruth and Dan. We apologize that we did not do an open invite for this but for those of you who have worked at camp I am sure, or hope, you can appreciate and remember how tired everyone is on Friday and, had we done an open invite, I am sure that we would have had well over 200 people. We just did not see it as being a great decision for the kitchen staff or for the volunteers who cook for Dead Cow to cook for over 200. So we are sorry that we did not do an open invite.
However, we had a great time celebrating with Momma Ruth and Dan. We had a few of our Board Members out and some of the people who worked with Momma Ruth in the kitchen attend as well. Instead of going around and have everyone share their highlight of the week, we did open mike time where staff shared some of their favourite memories of Momma Ruth and Dan. It was a great time. I personally miss Momma Ruth's wisdom. Momma Ruth is one of the wisest people I have ever met and we deeply miss her on our team. And we greatly miss the countless volunteer hours that Dan put into this place. Both Momma Ruth and Dan were a tremendous blessing to our organization and we miss them greatly. Thank you to Office Manager Chantel who organized a gift and card for Momma Ruth and Dan and thank you to Board Chair John Picard for presenting Momma Ruth and Dan with a gift.
Instead of staff sharing their weekly highlight verbally, we had each staff member write their highlight. I'm not sure which I like more, hearing the stories or reading them. Reading them is always fun because of how some of them are written. Two examples are these gems:
This week was incrediblezzz. The cabin was so chill and went to bed right away. I actually loved the kids we had this week - they were so punny and my co-leader waz so chill, we're now pretty close and it's g.
I loved seeing kids slowly warm up to the idea of Fireside. (ha ha, warm up). Most of them at the beginning of the week would sit and not listen but at the end they became really involved.
Some other highlights from Week 4 include:
This little girl sat in the lifeguard chair and so I told her she was the Junior Lifeguard. I let her whistle the "time to clean up" whistle and all the other girls were jealous. She loved it.
My kid was really afraid and timid at the beginning of the week. However, as the week progressed I saw them come out of their shell. It was awesome to see.
Doing group devos with another cabin
The whole week as a highlight
Fireside was a good time
I had a couple of really cute campers that kept making me gifts and cards and seaweed jewelry and it warmed my heart
I got a cute drawing from my camper moments after he had an episode and we just sat in Fireside listening to the music calmly and it was the most peaceful moment of my week.
Seeing all the CLTD's again. They really wanted to hang out with me too. All the girls in my cabin gathered on and around my bed and just talked to me and asked for me to tell stories.
Praying a blessing over a bunch of campers who opened up after all week
During one of the wide games we were on the red team and so a bunch of campers started pretending to be Russian Communists fighting for the Red Army. It was all down hill from there. For the next couple of days a bunch of us started talking in Russian accents and pretended to be communists. During the cabin decoration event we made a Soviet flag, hung it up, and blasted the national anthem of the USSR and saluted the flag.
Again, so many more highlights but I need to end these at some point. Thank you to all of the people who continue to pray for us. One of the things we have challenged our staff to do is to let Coach know about the good things that are happening all throughout the week and to not just wait until Dead Cow to focus on the highlights. I love the fact that we have created a culture here where staff know that it is a 24/7 open door and they can come and complain or vent about anything. But, when you are in this chair and all you hear are the complaints and what needs to be fixed it wears on you emotionally, spiritually and physically. Again, I want staff to feel comfortable about venting their frustrations but there is always another side of the story. It's like when we say to each other, "how can I pray for you?" Sometimes I think what we mean is, "what's wrong and how can I pray for it to be fixed." Yes, it's great to have people praying for the struggles but it is equally good to pray in collective celebration. And the staff have really taken to this challenge. They still vent but many a staff member is stopping me or coming by the office to tell me about the awesome things that are happening. This is great for my spirit, mind and soul. As always, thanks staff for all you and and thank you to those who continue to pray for us, both for the struggles and in celebration.