A Bit Late - But A Good Story - Week 4 Update 2020

I would like to do the update for this week with just a story.

One of our Helping All Campers Succeed children was having a really rough week. When she gets really stressed and upset she tends to use some, shall we say, "colourful language." I mean, she uses phrases that will put men's league hockey players to shame. The Cohort she was working in was a particularly energetic cohort and it really was not working well for this child. The child was swearing at the children in the cohort and a parent of one of the other children called me because he was concerned about the language that the Success Camper was using.

As I started working with the Success Camper, she had a complete meltdown. She was yelling at me, telling me how much she hated me and was just really upset. I had to call her mom because I needed some backup. Mom talked to her on the phone with me and was able to calm her down but it was clear the child was not going to be able to stay for the day.

When mom came to pick up her daughter I got to know the Success Campers' story more. Mom told me about how when her daughter was in school there was a child who had been picking on her daughter and one day her daughter got really angry and hit the child who had been picking on her daughter. Her daughter was suspended from school. She ended up pulling her daughter from public school and was now homeschooling her child. As mom told me the story my heart started to break because it seemed as though the story this child was learning from society is that if she does something bad then society sends her away.

I also learned that when she was looking at sending her daughter to camp this summer, her daughter didn't want to go to another special needs camp. The Success Camper wanted to go to a different camp but was worried that other children would pick on her because of her autism. The mom heard about our Helping All Campers Succeed Program and had heard really good things about it. And this was her daughter's third week here at the camp.

But now I was faced with a decision. Not only had this Success Camper been swearing at other children but we also learned that she had hit another camper. So what do I do? Well, the easy answer is send her home. And I totally had the right to do so. I mean the language is inappropriate and I have to look out for the safety of all campers, not just one. So the easy answer is send her home.

Well, if you know me and you know anything about Camp Chestermere, we are not about the easy answer. Why? Because when you create A Place to Belong and your number one value is Relationships, then you better be willing to put in the work.

The Success Camper did go home for the day but there was no question in my mind that she was coming back the next day. I sat with our Day Camp Team Lead and her Success Leader and we came up with a plan to help the Success Camper have a successful rest of the week. And that's what happened.

The next day the Success Camper came back and in one breath called me evil and then in the next breath asked me to help her with her backpack. But every time I saw this camper with her Success Leader they both had smiles on their faces. In fact, the day the Success Camper came back to camp, her Success Leader texted me and said, "This has been my best day so far."

Why do I tell this story as the update? Because this is who we are. This is what we do. And not just in the summer but 12 months a year. We're willing to take risks on people because that's what you do when you are A Place to Belong and that's what you do when your number value is Relationships. And that's what Jesus did. Jesus in stressful situations looked past the behaviour, the words, and the circumstances and he saw the value in people. People were valuable to him because of who's image they were created in. And that's why we believe in the value of people.

Oh, and we also called the parent who called with the concern and explained the situation to them and our plan moving forward and they were totally on board. Like I said, you have to put in the work.

And that's what you support when you support Camp Chestermere. You support an organization who fundamentally believes in the value of people.

Thank you for your ongoing support, love, and prayers.


Shannon Dean

Camp Director

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