Although he was only a member of the Camp Chestermere community for a few short weeks, Rob Pollett made an impact on everyone he met, and his being remembered as an inspiring and passionate individual.
Pollett, who took over for former director Frank Littel only last month, passed away in his home on Oct. 8 after suffering a heart attack. He was unaware that he had been suffering from an enlarged heart.
Shelley Johnson, director of the leadership training program at Camp Chestermere, said that Rob changed things for the better at the camp, even though he was only there for four short weeks.
“He just had this magnetic personality,” she said. “You’d meet him once and couldn’t help but feel inspired by him.
“We’ve had people calling in and asking to know if we would be having a memorial for him out here, because even just having met him once, they wanted to say goodbye.”
Johnson said that Pollett had a good vision of where the camp was headed, and that he was genuinely excited about the possibilities.
“You couldn’t help but be excited along with him,” she said. “You wanted to just dive in and work really hard and do anything you could in the same way as him. ”He just made life exciting and you wanted to follow where he was headed.”
Pollett, who came to Chestermere from Deer Lake, Newfoundland, came from a pastoral background, having pastored a church for 15 years before going into executive leadership in a camping ministry.
His son Nick was already out living in Chestermere, and his wife, Nancy was already packed and in the process of moving to Alberta when she received the news. Johnson said that Camp Chestermere will be setting up a benevolence fund for Pollett’s family.
“Though we’re grieving and we miss him, that inspiration and excitement that he had is continuing on here,” Johnson said. “Right now we’re just dealing with the day-to-day things, and generally finding out all of the things that only the director knew that we weren’t a part of.”
Johnson said that they are still moving forward with their October camp and with any other plans that were made in the way of ministry for the camp and with the camp.
“It’s really unreal that someone could be here for such a short amount of time and already leave such a legacy,” Johnson said. “It sounds cheesy, but it was like meeting with an angel to a degree.
“He was here so briefly and yet he was so inspiring.”
Johnson said that Pollett did a bit of a sermon on the last morning of their staff retreat, which she said was really the only time they heard him speak.
“We was talking about being inspired and getting out of the boat and moving forward,” she said. “We’ve seen our staff team’s response to that even after he had passed away.
“They’re still just excited and inspired by him.”
Johnson said that both the camp community and the town have been supportive and encouraging, and that the prayers and the blessings that have been poured out to them have been overwhelming.
“It’s good to know that we’re supported,” she said. “And it just goes to show how many people he affected in such a short time.”
Johnson said that Pollett’s wife, Nancy, said that it “wasn’t surprising that (Rob) had an enlarged heart, because we all knew how big it was.
“It was almost symbolic of the person that he was.”
A memorial service for Pollett was held in Winnipeg, and the staff at Camp Chestermere will be holding a private memorial in the coming weeks.
Anyone who would like to contribute a financial gift towards the expenses that Pollett’s family is facing, are asked to send cheques made out to Camp Chestermere. Any donations collected will be added to the benevolence fund and passed on to Rob’s family.