Camp Chestermere continues to be a gift to the community in spite of a challenging 2021.
In 2021, the camp’s theme was resurgence, and while reflecting on the past year, executive director Shannon Dean was reminded of how hard the board of directors, year-round staff, seasonal staff, seasonal leadership team, and volunteers worked.
“While there were many challenges, Camp Chestermere continued to be a gift to the community and was able to work with and support many other
organizations in the city,” Dean said.
“Overall, it was a challenge, but we found success in spite of the challenges in front of us.”
In 2021, the camp was able to run day and overnight summer camps, with over 1,956 people going through the site.
“As with summer 2020, not one case of COVID-19. This is no small thing given the circumstances,” Dean said.
Staff also organized the summer camps with only two weeks to plan and prepare. With seasonal leadership starting June 14, staff training starting June 29, and overnight camp opening on July 15.
“It was 15 business days after seasonal leadership started, we welcomed our first campers. An amazing feat,” Dean said.
Until Aug. 15, all meals were served outside, three dining rooms were set up, there were three firesides every night, and program events were run three times, to keep campers in cohorts of 50.
“It wasn’t that we just planned and executed a camp with only two weeks of planning, we planned and executed a completely different looking camp than how it traditionally looks,” Dean said.
The biggest challenge the camp had to overcome was the loss of revenue due to the lack of rentals.
Schools not doing field trips for much of the year had a tremendous impact on revenue, and ongoing changes to restrictions and guidelines also made it difficult to host user groups.
“We anticipate this to be an ongoing challenge going into 2022,” Dean said.
Despite the challenges, the camp saw many highlights throughout the year such as the June memoriam of the remains of children in Kamloops, hosting a truth and reconciliation event of some kind every month since the discovery of the remains, helping the community by being a distribution centre for programs, a poutine fundraiser, and That Winter Thing event.
Going forward, Dean’s goals for the camp are to continue being a gift to the community, while achieving last year’s goals of getting back to a sense of normal with summer camps, hosting events, and increasing rental opportunities.
“Most of these goals were achieved but not being able to have rentals at the capacity we did before the pandemic is an ongoing challenge,” Dean said.
Throughout the year, Dean and the camp team received a lot of positive feedback from parents, campers, and staff throughout and after the summer.
“Parents were so eager to send their children to camp. Our day camp program was sold out before the summer even started and we had a waiting list each and every week,” Dean said.
Overnight camp numbers were also strong with some weeks having a waiting list.
“There are way too many stories to tell and too many highlights to capture, some of the highlights from the summer included the incredible job the programs team did with running events and especially with our theme dinners on Thursday night,” Dean said. “The kitchen staff and the programs team worked really well together to pull off some of the best theme nights I’ve seen in my time here.”