Hello from Camp Chestermere,
It is with a heavy heart that I write this update from Camp Chestermere. This email will cover the impacts COVID19 has had on Camp Chestermere, including staff layoffs and our not proceeding with contracts for the Seasonal Leadership Team. The end of this post has ways you can help.
I would like to first apologize that it has taken a little while for us to put this update together. As I am sure many of you can appreciate, the pace at which our world has changed in the past 5 weeks has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Initial Impacts of COVID19
The COVID19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect on individuals, families, businesses, organizations, ministries and charities across the world and Camp Chestermere is no different. The effects of COVID19 were first felt at Camp Chestermere on Thursday March 12, 2020 when we made the decision to cancel our School Year Camp. This was especially sad for two reasons. First of all, the camp had been planned by the Junior High Missions Team from Heritage Christian Academy and so those students were not able to see all of their hard work come to fruition. Secondly, it was the first School Year Camp that we had completely sold out in quite some time.
Since then, as I said at the start, the pace at which things have changed has been nothing short of breathtaking. Our doors have been closed since March 12 meaning that we have had no guest bookings and no programming since that time.
Temporary Layoffs of Year Round Staff
I am sad to announce that Camp Chestermere has had to temporarily layoff most of the members of its Year Round Team including CLTD / Guest Services Coordinator Erik Davis (Baloo), Kitchen Lead Michelle Dean (Hockey Mom), Site Coordinator Vic Niekraszewicz (Papa Smurf), Office Administrator Natasha Karcz (Shut Eye) and Assistant Director Collin Daws (Deuce). This is a heart breaking situation for all involved. These staff continue to live on site and we hope to bring them all back as soon as possible. However, with very little income coming in and the uncertainty of Summer 2020, Camp Chestermere simply was not able to keep everyone on the payroll.
While this news is heartbreaking, I want to take a moment to acknowledge some of the work that these staff members have been doing, even though they've been laid off. Papa Smurf and his wife continue to come in every day and work on odd jobs around the camp. For example, he has been renovating the gym and she has refinished our podium and coffee table. Deuce and Shut Eye continue to run iCampC and Hockey Mom has been working on creative ways to bring in income. We've also continued on our #PostsofHope with our live devotions on instagram at 4pm. It has been incredible to watch these individuals continue to serve the camp even after being laid off.
Bookkeeper Heather Allen (Bookie) has been a rock star during this time.I cannot even begin to account for the amount of work she has done behind the scenes and I am so thankful for her faithfulness to the camp.
Seasonal Leadership Team and Seasonal Staff
Further, we have informed all of our Seasonal Leadership Team, who were set to begin their positions on May 4, 2020, that we will not be proceeding with their positions. However, I would like to take a moment to honour them by announcing who they were. It is a competition to be on the Seasonal Leadership Team and people work hard to get there. We consistently receive more applications than positions. So, the Seasonal Leadership Team for 2020 was:
Overnight Male Team Lead - Jomar (Owl)
Overnight Female Team Lead - Erin Clarke (Vendetta)
Day Camp Team Lead - Kaidon Nickel (Tardus)
Success Team Lead - Tevis Schaufert (New to Camp Chestermere)
Camp Medic - Isabel Wiseman (New to Camp Chestermere)
Office Assistant - Shayla Kopp (Kopper)
CLTD Leader - Alissa Tremblay (Star)
CLTD Leader - Darcy Ralph (Brother Bear)
CLTD Leader - Jacob Cross (Kermit)
Volunteer Coordinator - Brady Munshaw (Animal)
Programs Lead - Jarod "Red" Graham (Qrow)
Program Lead - Sara Larsen (New to Camp Chestermere)
Team Support - Evan Lloyd (Rook)
You may notice that there are a few positions missing from the list like Lifeguard and one CLTD Position. We were in the process of hiring for these positions when the COVID19 pandemic hit.
How Can You Help / Support
The Board of Directors and I have established a Revenue Generating Committee that will be looking at creative ways to bring revenue into the camp. One way that currently exists is you can make a donation when you register your children for iCampC. Remember the "staff" who are doing this are doing so on a volunteer basis. We will be making announcements on new things that we will be doing as soon as those ideas come to fruition. Please feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts or ideas.
The main way you can support us right now though is through prayer and donations. We will be launching a prayer and fundraising campaign soon but you do not need to wait for this to start. Some may be asking, what are my funds going to if Camp is not running programs? There are still hard costs that exist for us like utilities, housing costs, salaries, benefits for staff and more. Camp Chestermere has over 80 years of history and we want that history to continue. 400 people donating $100 a month would dramatically change our current future outlook, would allow us to bring some staff back, and would help us to continue the ministry of Camp Chestermere. But we know times are hard for everyone right now so even if people were able to do $20 a month it would help. To set up monthly donations or to make a one time donation go to https://atbcares.benevity.org/community/cause/124-132336777RR0001/donate or contact mt at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would invite you to follow us on our social media platforms and to spread the word about the things that are happening at camp. We understand that these times are hard for everyone and many are losing jobs and facing uncertain futures themselves. These certainly are unprecedented times.
And last but certainly not least, I would like to say a huge thank you to the Camp Chestermere Board of Directors for their leadership and work during this difficult time.
Thank you for your ongoing love, support and prayers. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to be involved in helping camp in any way.