Half capacity is better than zero capacity in the Rev. John Galbraith’s mind. While the director of Camp Medley would love to see 130 kids running around on any given week, 68 campers onsite was a blessing to behold during the second week of July.
Camp Medley was closed last year, so they concentrated on facility upgrades, and held family drop-in days to keep interest up.
Fortunately this summer, provincial protocols have allowed overnight camping.
“Some camps in New Brunswick were able to open last year, but we weren’t comfortable doing that,” said John. “But after a year, kids are used to it and we felt we could operate. We’ve had two very good weeks so far. The kids are saying they’ve missed it.”
New this year are biking trails in the woods and new basketball equipment. But not new this year is Savana Somers, who spent last summer in the camp office producing Facebook videos to keep campers’ interest up.
This year, she’s involved with Medley Makers camp, instructing kids in bracelet making, string art, painting and hand puppets, to name a few.
“We will be making snow globes,” she said. “I’m having a blast. It’s nice.”
Emma Burke was a counsellor two years ago and is happy to be back. She graduated with a science degree in the spring and is headed back to the University of New Brunswick for its Education program in the fall, so this will probably be her final year at camp.
Emma, from Cambridge Narrows, is a counsellor who also does program support and administration, She has been assigned as tour guide for our visit, and her enthusiasm is evident.
“No other job is so rewarding,” she said. “Like when a camper tells you they’ve had the best week. I had a camper tell me last week they didn’t know what the bible is. Another didn’t know about the cross. I got to explain it.
“I get to make connections. I get to be with these kids. I want all the kids, including gay kids, to feel accepted. I feel Camp Medley does that very well. The staff is very respectful.”
Emma outlines a typical day:
There is no sleeping in at camp. Wake up is at 7:30, with everyone expected to be at the flagpole at 8 a.m. for cabin skits and grace, followed by breakfast. Chapel is next, with cabin clean-up immediately after. The rest of the morning includes 50-minute sessions. Each cabin moves from session to session: canoeing, swimming, sports, crafts, drama and so on.
After lunch, there is another session, then tuck (canteen) and rest. The remainder of the afternoon could include a group adventure, cabin time, or another program.
After supper there’s an evening program, with campfire and snack, followed by chapel and cabin devotions. Then it’s lights out.
“It’s a full day,” said Emma.
Canoeing is very popular, and this year, the camp acquired a few kayaks. The Rev. Dan McMullen, assistant director for the summer, teaches each child how to be safe in the water.
“When it’s calm, we can go all the way to the other side,” said Emma, pointing to Route 102 across the St. John River. “We do canoeing in the morning because the water is more calm.”
John is really pleased with this year’s staff, and he’s proud to show off the upgrades to them, campers and visitors: an efficient hot water boiler system, new dishwasher, new large deck outside the dining hall, flower garden, and cabin and bathroom upgrades. Every light in the camp is now LED.
It’s hard not to notice all the lush grass, which replaced an uneven, rocky field.
“The nurse hasn’t seen anyone for playing or falling on the grass this year,” he said.
“A lot of people put a lot of work into this,” he said, spreading his arms wide. “Last year alone we had more than 500 volunteer hours. It’s priceless.”
John expects propane use will be cut in half by the boiler. The new lights will help cut the electricity bill.
With all the upgrades, John is anxious to fill the camp with as many kids as guidelines allow. As of July, there were still spaces open for all remaining camps. Donations help children whose parents cannot afford the fee.
“There’s been a high demand on our sponsorship program this year,” he said. “If people want to help, we’d really appreciate it.”
If you’d like to help send a child to camp, contact John: 506-488-2874 or email@example.com .
1. Christopher Pillay, under the net, leads a game of basketball during the second week of camp.
2. Counsellor Emma Burke helps launch a canoe with the Rev. Dan McMullen paddling.
3. A cabin of campers works on string art and bracelets.
4. Gaga ball is a popular game at Camp Medley. Inside the ring, you must hit the ball using only your hands; hitting another person with the ball puts them out of the game.
NOTE: Camp Medley’s Family Day Destination week is happening right now, July 24 to 31. Each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. guests are welcome to drop in for crafts, sports, canoeing, swimming, games and a barbecue. Donations are welcome, but there is no fee. This is a great opportunity to bring your kids or grandkids, see the upgrades, and if you were once a camper, revisit old memories and create new ones. Everyone is welcome! Visit campmedley.ca to register, or just show up.