Monday, 30 March 2015

Spring Melt 2015: A damaged road and could today be the day the river goes?

For everyone in Saskatchewan you will know already how nice the weather has been. The snow seems to be disappearing at a rate we are happy with when we think back what everything looked like this time a year ago or even two years ago. After a couple really long winters we deserve to outside and enjoying the sun in March, after all it’s nice to remember that not every winter seems to stretch into April or even May.

The melt at Shekinah has historically brought some challenges. Well, challenges is probably an understatement if we are thinking back 23 months ago to the day when the waters rose to unmanageable levels and pianos floated and you probably know the rest. So how is melt 2015 going for Shekinah?

Through the month of March we have been watching and speculating as to how things would go. Certainly there have been a number of factors in our favour. There is certainly not the snow accumulation that we have seen in previous years and the warm temperatures have led to a slow melt. All this is good for us and it was a couple weeks ago now that we saw the river start to rise and the creek that runs down into the river start to flow. The river has come up about 5ft from its winter levels and this recent stretch has not seen any significant rises in water levels even though the creek is now becoming more of a raging torrent.

And then unexpected happened! It is after all Shekinah right? On Friday afternoon we walked outside to find a raging torrent in an unexpected location. Coming down our road! With deep channels already carved out by the water we went looking for the plugged culvert or the spring that had popped up, but that’s not what we found.

What we found was water draining out of the field at the top of the hill and flowing “downstream” along the road. After some assessing we knew we needed to do something, but the question was what exactly? We decided to build a dam and divert the water to the other side of the road and hopefully create a new path down the side of the hill rather than our road.

The road was already a mess but we could potentially mitigate the situation. So we put down gravel only to see the torrent sweep it along in its path. Eventually we scraped up some mud and dirt off the road and put it in place. This worked. We were able to divert the water and we got lucky. We would like to claim that it was deliberate, but it wasn’t because the water we diverted flowed perfect to a culvert and so we did have to get it across the other “up” road.

Down by the office the water was pooling on the sidewalk and threating to breach the threshold. While we had diverted the bulk of the flow it was still gathering momentum further down the hill as water was running down the side off the valley to collect with whatever was managing to seep through our dam wall.

The following video shows us building the second dam on the down road to drain the water towards a culvert. This time we knew what we were aiming for.

We were reminded (not that anyone at Shekinah can forget) of the power of water and the damage that it can do in a very short period of time. As that memory gets entrenched in the banks we began monitoring the river for the duration of the weekend. The question looming, when will the ice go and what will it mean for us?

This Monday 30 March 2015 we are wondering if today will be the day. With big pools of water on the ice and the channel Reddekop island completely open the signs are there. The water did not rise overnight, but there were lots of really loud cracks that were heard coming from the river yesterday afternoon. Today could be the day and if it goes we hope and pray that the river ice is rotten enough that it simply breaks down easily and ice jams will not be a factor. But with Mother Nature you just never know what the next surprise will be… Watch this space.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Field trip - what I learned

Hi Folks.

Last week, Nick and I (Curtis) had the opportunity to spend some time at the CCI Canada-SK conference held at Redberry Bible Camp. There are two main ideas that have stuck with me since leaving there. The first was an answer to a question of how we measure success at our camps. One participant made the point that we have to compare goals back to our mission statement. At Shekinah that mission statement says “Shekinah is to be a place where all who come have the opportunity to experience the glory and presence of God”. The second concept I am stuck on is the idea that everyone who comes to your camp should feel blessed. This includes campers, parents, staff, plumbers, delivery people, and of course, volunteers!

It is no secret that Shekinah, like every camp, depends heavily on volunteer help and it is our hope that every volunteer who comes here not only feels blessed but has “the opportunity to experience the glory and presence of God”. In fact, I believe it is true that volunteers are in the best position of anyone to experience God’s presence here at Shekinah. As a volunteer, you get the chance to make a contribution of your time and talents to the building of God’s kingdom. Shekinah is hardly the only place where service to others is part of kingdom work and the benefits of volunteering anywhere are numerous and live-giving. Serving others helps to provide a perspective on our role in the world; it fosters humility. It gives a feeling of making a difference. It demonstrates the love of Jesus we want to share with the world. Paul Bailey, the speaker at the conference we attended, noted that people who volunteer have a longer life expectancy and report being generally happier with life.

Serving as a volunteer at Shekinah can take many forms. You could help in the kitchen during camp, pitch in with spring cleaning, help us tackle the ongoing task of cutting up firewood, donate time and talents to future building projects, help out with fundraising or recruiting efforts, or spend a week at camp as a CIT (if you are between grade 10 and 12). You might even get the chance to try something for the first time or develop a new skill, friendship, or attitude. There are loads of ways to get involved and I encourage everyone to consider if serving as a volunteer at Shekinah is something for you this year. Come, spend some time with us, and experience the glory and presence of God.

2015 Summer Camp Staffings

It seems as though things have been a bit busy around camp lately, and so you may have noticed we haven't posted anything in a while. Now that we're getting back to business-as-usual, it's time for some updates from us to you. This post is all things summer camp! Although the past weekend didn't feel too much like spring, there has definitely been a change of seasons in my mind. While winter seems to be all about preparing to prepare for camp, spring is when I feel I can finally start concrete planning... And that has begun! We already have over 20 campers registered for camp and all of our counsellors have been hired! Hiring is a mix of emotions: there is something so unique and life-giving about reading applications, meeting with people for interviews, and hearing the wonderful things each reference will say. But it is also a bit of a stressful time for me, as it's important to and affects a lot of people. I'm often uncomfortable with the pressure and responsibility I have... And so I pray. I pray that God is with me, and with the applicants. I pray that God will guide me to hear each individual through the process and the needs of staff and campers. And at the end of the process (both this year and last), I reflect to see that God is with us, working through time to provide camp with a variety of skills and passions needed to run. And then there are always the accreditation's that are needed. With a smaller staff, it's always been a worry of mine to find a certified lifeguard. This year, we're blessed to have one applicant with her NLS certificate. A new thing we need counsellors to be certified in is our climbing wall and flying fox. You may remember last summer we were unable to offer our zipline as an activity because we were preparing to build a new one, along with a new climbingwall. They were both built at the end of last summer, and 3 of our returning staff are already certified to operate both activities. This training is something we offer to our staff, however scheduling is sometimes difficult to coordinate, making this a puzzle to work on in my mind. But enough about the process, I'm sure you're all interested to know who our counsellors are for summer 2015! So here they are:
Nora Pederson (3rd summer), Meghan Wiens (3rd summer), Jenae Funk (2nd summer), Brita Pederson (1st summer), Matt Schellenberg (3rd summer), Ryan Wiens (1st summer), Dylan Longhurst (1st summer), and Brandon Janzen (1st summer).

Saying that I'm excited for everyone to come to camp is a slight understatement. I want so badly to see the staff and volunteers working and having fun together. But before counsellors can come to camp, there's still a lot more preparation that needs to be done. So, I keep working on the preparations, but I've been letting myself pause between tasks to picture in my mind what this summer might look like with this new group. Interestingly enough, I can picture every staff member out here, using their individual talents for camp.... Regardless of how many times they've been to Shekinah, or how many years they came to camp, I can just see it being good.