HUGS, TEARS AND PROMISES
SCYP Program Officer is a job like no other. In “normal” times, it means hours spent planning and perfecting the summer adventure for many Saskatchewan youth, starting with a bus ride to a camp location, and ending with hugs, tears, and promises to exchange snaps and tik toks for a lifetime. You are surrounded by literal Happy Campers.
This summer looked different from the start. I would rent a vehicle, load it up with games, snacks, co-op activities, and drive to places to do a day of Co-op Camp in a bunch of Saskatchewan towns. This would be easy, I thought! This will be fun! This won’t be exhausting!!! I’m over 40, I’ve road tripped before, I can do this!
IF THIS IS TUESDAY, I MUST BE IN… MOOSE JAW?
I set up ten partnerships with Saskatchewan Co-operative Association Members and set dates for 18 communities. I began booking spaces to host our event, making catering arrangements for lunches, and finding places for me to sleep in these 18 towns.
True Story: I picked up the phone, dialed a number for a motel in some small-town Saskatchewan and the wonderful lady who answered the phone asked what night I needed a room for. I didn’t know what to tell her. I actually had to ask what town I had just called! My brain was completely addled, swimming with all the arrangements I had begun making. When she laughed and said she was in Outlook, I had a good giggle with her as I explained, I didn’t know what day I needed until I knew where I was calling, and why I was making 54 phone calls in a matter of hours, and please forgive me for being so confused!
THE CO-OP CAMP MAGIC WON’T BE DAMPENED BY SOME VIRUS
Our first location was Luseland, SK. Thank goodness for the incredible staff at the Luseland CU branch. They were wonderful, as I walked into the branch, said hello, and then immediately asked to use the washroom. (It’s a long drive from Saskatoon to Luseland!)
The staff there had been scouring the community and I'm pretty sure that they had recruited every young adult that did not have a summer job to join us for the day! And, after an incredibly long 23 months without seeing a co-operative youth in person, (our online adventure in the summer of 2020 doesn’t count), to see this group playing our ice breaker games, and getting to explain what the “Free Zone” is, I nearly shed a tear of JOY! To see the fantastic kids in this town embrace our Co-op Camp brand of silliness was EXACTLY what I needed.
I’ll admit, I’m not the best person to ask about how the pandemic changed them, or their job. I know that my mental health was most certainly affected, and I worried more than I should have, about what this was going to do to my job, and even more importantly, the Camp. Because Co-op Camp is more than just me, it’s the thousands of youths who are yet to have the chance to be changed and inspired by attending a week with us, and if something like a global crash were to shut our doors, I would be devastated for all those lives that I can’t be a part of.
Seeing that group of teens playing our games, and laughing with our corny camp antics, that was the salve to soothe my soul. I knew that this summer was not going to be brought down by some germ. The Co-op Camp Magic is stronger than a virus.
Luseland Saskatchewan is now a community forever etched into my heart. Those wild and silly teens, drawing fake tattoos on their calves during a water and snack break, the laughter and screeches during co-operative juggling, the conversations about video games at lunch, these are the moments that brought a sparkle back to my soul!
Stay tuned for the next part of my adventure!