Chen-A-Wanda News

It’s Not Goodbye…..It’s Just See You Next Summer

To you, our Chenny Parents at home that have read our blogs, watched our videos and sifted through thousands and thousands of pictures and believed in us enough to send your kids to spread their wings with us at Camp Chen-A-Wanda – we simply say thank you for sharing your amazing kids with us all summer long. I have spend the past 49 nights writing to you at home hoping to give you a glance and what is happening inside our gates but tonight I wrote this letter to your children for our last evening activity of Summer ’18. It has been an honor and a privilege spending the summer with your kids. Thank you again for your belief in us and enjoy your kids when they are back in your arms tomorrow. We will miss them so much. Thank you again.

To Our Incredible Chen-A-Wanda Family – 

It has been 49 days since we stood in this very spot and welcomed you to Summer ’18 at Camp Chen A Wanda and now we are back here for our last evening at our summer home. It has been 49 days of incredible moments, 49 days of total freedom, 49 days of navigating this experience with your friends by your side and your counselors holding your hands. These 49 days will stay with you through your life and these moments help shape who you are and who you will become. As you saw from the hundreds of alumni that came back here last weekend,  summers spent here in their youth shaped who they became and boy what they would do to be able to spend just one more summer here at this place that has never ever left their hearts. We watched you open your arms and your hearts to them as you listened to their stories they shared with you and now you share a common bond with all of them – THE LOVE WE ALL FEEL FOR CAMP CHEN-A-WANDA – It ties us all together. You are now part of of this incredible community too, as one day we hope you share your stories made here at Chenny. You are part of something special and like every single camper and staff that came before you, your story matters!!

As we look out at all of your faces, we see incredible people sitting before us. We see bravery, we see empathy, courage and kindness, we see honesty, we see hilariously funny and talented people and a hall full of campers and staff that made us smile every single day. It is hard to describe the feeling in this place to other people and do justice to how amazing it is in here but there isn’t a person in this hall that hasn’t felt what we have feel. Together,  We are the definition of family and each and every one of you make Chen-A-Wanda the incredible place it is. We come from every corner of the globe and together we have created something insanely special.

Our staff is undeniably the best of the best and nobody said it better than Lyla Miller in the ‘This is Why I Wanda” video we just watched when she so perfectly said, “The counselors here take really really really good care of you,” or when Stevie Fuetterman so eloquently described how they aren’t like teachers but more like older sisters or how Spencer Wexler relayed how he doesn’t have an older brother at home but after 7 years here it’s as if he has 20. You made it happen for our kids, you protected them, you listened to them, you helped them through tough moments and most importantly you made an IMPACT!!! Thank you for giving so much of yourself to our kids. We can only hope they impacted you as much as you impacted them.

From the freshman who stole our hearts this summer. You came into camp and dominated with your cuteness. To each and every Junior and Middy, Inter and Collegiate you brought something incredibly special to camp; your sweet generous spirit and your love to play. Regardless if you were outside tossing a ball with a buddy or inside playing jacks, you played and enjoyed a summer of just being a kid. No phones, Netflix shows or fortnight occupied you this summer. You played and talked to one another all summer long and made connections that are real. This is why friendships are so deep here because they are created without distractions and sustained by human contact, not virtual ones.

To our Navajo kids, you spent you summer with more optional nights and later curfews. You are the big kids on campus who along the way took the time to listen more, judge less and show kindness always. Lessons aren’t always easy but you defined that you can’t always change the beginning but you can stay right where you are and change the ending. We are so proud of each and every one of you and thankful you are part of our summer family. GC’s – It’s now your turn on the Hill. We can’t wait to see you shine next summer and have no doubt you will be AMAZING CIT’s!

So now to the back of the room, our CIT’s of 2018. You set the tone this summer with your infectious spirit and insane determination. Even through the ties, lessons were learned and together as a group you  showed this camp what leaders are and how to end with grace, dignity and a whole lotta love. Off you go onto your next stage – as you enter your junior year of high school, don’t ever forget about that summer you spent stargazing, singing Build me up Buttercup, holding hands, giving piggy back rides, breaking the floor and without a doubt leaving your roots here at Camp Chen-A-Wanda.

So here is where Summer ’18 ends, right where it began – We hope you have created incredible memories this summer, made some new friends, believed how truly special each and every one of you are and most importantly had the time of your lives. You all made an impact on us and YOU are the reason why We Wanda!!!

Thank you Chenny. We Love you!!!

Jon & Elissa 

A Great Way To End

Reality has set in that our last days of summer 2018 are upon us. It is a mix of emotion here at camp as we are organizing for the end. Cleaning out our cubbies and night stands, reminiscing about the last 7 weeks, making plans for winter get togethers and feeling not ready to leave this place. It is really happening and there is just no way to make time stop. We know we all must leave but it’s just so hard. From the Freshman to the CIT’s, nobody is ready to step out of this life yet but all great things must come to and end.

As the sun was setting over Fiddle Lake, we were all dressed up in our best outfits and headed to center camp where we took pictures together with our friends & counselors. Everyone looked beautiful. Groups stood on the dock, arm in arm smiling for that group picture that will be looked at 1000 times as soon they return home only to remind us of this very night. They captured those moments that made us feel whole on the inside. They know everything about us, they accept everything about us. You can see it in the ease on your children’s faces. Living happy is how we choose to live up here. This night was perfect and as they walked into the Lodge, our campers were transported out of this world. It was aliens and planets and it was oh so cool.  We dined on fried chicken & filet sliders, Caesar salad, honey glazed carrots and tater tots. The kids loved their meal but the big hit was dessert as everyone went crazy for the edible chocolate chip cookie dough!

After dinner it was off to Shields Hall for our end of the year division Awards. Each Division highlighted the following campers in 3 areas; Honor Camper, Athlete of the Year and All Around Camper. They are truly standout campers and we couldn’t be more proud to highlight and honor them on this great night. To receive on this night is the highest honor we can give our campers. These are remarkable campers who deserve all the accolades and praise they were given. We have outstanding campers and tonight the light was bright on the campers we recognized with these extremely prestigious awards.

FRESHMEN Meredith Jacobs Morgan Bauman Roxie Bishop
JUNIORS Billie Margolis Lindsay Gelfman Lexi Greenblatt
MIDDIES Ashley Schwartz & Sydney Mallah Sammi Witz & Sloane Pariser Gigi Leeds
INTERS Sarah Fernbach Elizabeth Kamelhar Addison Rubovitz
COLLEGIATES Gracie Frankel Summer Housenbold Sammi Leon
SENIORS Ashleigh Brett Jordyn Shohet Marli Cohen
SUPERS Morgan Klein Mackenzie Rubovitz Molly Williams
GC’s Julia Peskin Lindsay Komson Sarah Haber
CIT’s Of The Year Dylan Grabow & Madison Grabow
Lower Camp Ashley Schwartz Elizabeth Kamelhar Lexi Greenblatt
Upper Camp Julia Peskin Mackenzie Rubovitz Sammi Leon


FRESHMEN  Brady Kotler Jake Shiffman Jack Zaben
JUNIORS  Jake Marin Jake Mongeluzo Max Schwartzberg
MIDDIES  Charlie Horton Jacob Santiago Jason Marks
INTERS  Bennett Votano Trent Hernandez Derek Herzog Jack Komson
COLLEGIATES  Derek Satz Kash Bishop Jack Komson
SENIORS  Jake Gold & Jack Einzig Alex Frank & Turner Katz Sean Pesner & Ethan Schwartz
SUPERS  Jordan Yagaloff Josh Petchers Jake Root
GC’s  Noah Hirshfield  Jake Becker Danield Greenfield
CIT’s of the Year Matthew Gershman & Jack Santoro
Lower Camp Brady Kotler Derek Herzog Jason Marks
Upper Camp Jordan Yagaloff Alex Frank Sean Pesner

After the Awards, it was party time and we danced all night long. Shields Hall was full of campers who let loose and danced until their feet hurt. It was over the top fun having our last true dance party with our summer family. It’s so hard to believe the summer is over but we definitely went out with a bang. As campers headed back to their bunks full of glow sticks, T-shirts, glow rings and other items that were given out at the party, everyone was exhausted and elated and had the times of their life tonight. It was a party like no other as we celebrated an amazing season. It was just an incredible way to end an incredible summer. One more day to go!

Chenny out

Lovin’ Late Night With Leahy

We spent the last official day of regular activities having the best time playing everything and anything. The pool and lake were full of happy campers. The fields had tons of games going on and the biddy city had happy ballers while the Chenny Shack was busy making burgers and pizza. It was like we all knew that this is it. Our last day of regular activities in summer 2018.

Congratulations to our very last Campers of the Week of summer 2018. A huge shout out to these awesome kids.

Freshmen –   Lyla Miller & Ashton Nadel

Juniors – Marissa Holtzman & Brady Bornstein

Middies – Alex Lendenbaum & Emma Erlich

Inters – Abby Goldblatt & Austin Berstein

Collegiates –  Liv Mallor & Ethan Schwartzberg

Seniors – Shaya Roth & Emma Denson & Hunter Galan

Supers – Bella Derose & Aidan Tessler

GC – Emily Weiss & Evan Kay

CIT – Ava Kreshover & Jessie Altman & Matt Glickman


The night was all about Late Night with Leahy and the excitement was in the air. It is an amazing culmination of  incredible videos & skits by our very own creative genius Brian Leahy and produced by the insanely talented media Team of Joe Co and Nate. It is highly anticipated and did not disappoint.  The night referenced everything funny about camp this summer. Every camper and staff member laughed till it hurt. It was like watching a real late night show with comedy sketches, give away prizes, Top Ten Thank You Notes and a camp favorite, Bad Lip Reading. The hit of the night was our very own trailer A Quieter Place. It is a must watch. This evening’s activity is a camp favorite and even our counselors that were off duty, stayed in to watch because it’s just that entertaining. Campers absolutely went crazy for own home grown Late Night Show.

Everyone is looking forward to banquet tomorrow. It is the best celebration and we do it in style. We dine on amazing cuisine as we are all dressed up in our best duds. Then it’s back to the bunk to get on comfortable clothes and shoes for one amazing night of dancing and celebrating. Best night of CAW is just around the corner. It’s one big party and everyone looks forward to this night all summer long. We just can’t believe it’s actually here. Feels like we just rolled into camp and started this journey but 48 days have passed and we are looking at the end of an experience that has changed who we are. Here’s to the last 2 days of living the Chenny dream.

Chenny Out.

Gold Dreamworks Wins Color War 2018!

With the last day of Color War upon us, everyone was working hard, having fun and giving it every ounce of effort they had. It meant that much to all of us. Win or loose, each team put their heart on the line and played hard. Each field and court was full of Red and Gold spirit, chants and cheers. Everyone was giving it their all. To see groups of kids rally around one another in the true sprit of competition and do it in a way that is uplifting and encouraging is awe-inspiring. It’s the way it should always be and it exists here at camp.

The CITS’s gave their psych speech before breakfast and shared feelings on this being the last and final Color War day they will ever have as a camper. They spoke from the heart and spoke of no regrets and embrace every event because in a blink of an eye, it ends. This group amazing CIT’s have left their mark and today marks the beginning of their finale.

There is a long standing Color War event called the axe hunt. A wooden axe was hidden on day one and at the beginning of each lunch 2 CIT’s from each team are given a clue to where it is. They have a timed 15 minutes to look for the axe. To this point in the competition, it has yet to be found. If it was not found today, this would be the very first time it had not been located. There was intense pressure for both teams to find the axe. Some were convinced it was nowhere on this camp, but oh it was. Hidden somewhere they hadn’t yet looked and it was waiting for them to find it. This was the last race and the entire camp was waiting in the Lodge, just waiting for the runners to appear holding the axe. Today, the last day of the axe hunt.  There was a certain CIT girl that was running the hunt today and she was nervous and actually asked her Captain if they would swap her out and pick a faster runner. I saw her right before lunch and she was terrified she wouldn’t be able to keep up. Every doubt she had about herself rose to the top and her fears almost over took her courage. Regardless of her fears, she stayed in the race. This event was timed for 15 minutes and with just 3 minutes to go, still nobody found the axe. With only 60 seconds left, I saw that same CIT running down the hill with her teammates next to her and that girl was waving that axe high in the air. That girl was my daughter Maddy and she found it with only 1 minute to go. Her face was pure joy and she did something she really thought she couldn’t. She found her courage today when she committed to finding that axe. Nobody before her in the past 5 days could find that axe but she did. Her worry , doubt and fear was replaced by pure joy that translated into confidence and a belief in herself. It was a moment that Jon and I will never forget and she certainly won’t either. A lesson she lived to never doubt herself and believe that what you feel is impossible may just be within your reach. She whispered in my ear, “I did it Mom, I found the axe.” and I whispered back, “You didn’t just find the axe Maddy, you found something way bigger.” We couldn’t have been more proud, not that she found the axe but that she never gave up.

Tonight was a silent meal and never was The Lodge so quiet. It was oddly silent as this is the place where we dance and sing but tonight in Color War tradition, we ate silently.  The campers wanted more than anything to talk but knew that every word spoken would loose points for their team. Try and visualize The Lodge full of campers and counselors that just don’t speak. It was a sight to see.

As both teams entered into Shields Hall dressed as characters from Trolls and Shrek, the Incredibles, Up and so many other amazing costumes, there was a sense of elation and true Color War pride. This was it, and everyone knew it. The scores were so close it was all coming down to SING. Each team presented their plaque and banner and they were truly works of art. True art master pieces that took our breath away. It was time for Sing and both were ready to perform the songs they worked so hard on and had so much meaning in every verse. There were tears as Red Pixar sang their Alma Mater and included beautiful lyrics that embodied the feelings they have as their summer comes to an end:

Spent all this time here with you

Don’t know how Ill make it through

Winter Nights alone

This place will always be our home

Friendships different over the phone

But I’m just a call away

It was emotional and everyone knew that the end of Color War signifies the end of camp. What we have all gone through will be with us forever but for now is ending and the last three days as two teams are now back together as one amazing camp.  Gold Dreamworks so poetically conveyed in their Alma Mater:

5 days have flown by

Fearing our last goodbye

My summer home, my sweet escape

A Legacy lives on at Fiddle Lake

The Bonds you’ll find here are so rare

Nothing can compare

All the love behind these gates, is something the we can’t explain

In a Chenny tradition of musical chairs, the last Judge to grab his/her seat was GOLD and that relayed the winner of Color War 2018. There was joyous elation throughout the Gold team but just for a moment as we hugged our friends and then busted out in a giant dance party. Joys of winning Color War and tears from defeat were replaced by intense and over the top energy that literally was explosive and electric. We could have moved a mountain with all that energy and then the realization that camp is nearing its end – the tears started to flow. So many feelings flooded us all and now with Color War behind us, summer 2018 is just about done.

We walked into Shields Hall tonight as two very separate teams but came out as One! The love we all feel and the connection we have formed is transformative and experiencing Color War 2018 was icing on the cake. When you think it just can’t get better, it does. Now we down shift to the final 3 days here and we won’t wast a moment.

Chenny out

Who Doesn’t Love Apache Relay?

Everyone matters in the Apache Relay and every camper plays a key role. No matter if you are being wrapped in toilet paper, running around the quad track, painting an entire oak tag board or are heading into the School of Rock for the infamous “unknown”, you count. It is a race that includes EVERYONE. It is fun, it is intense and it is Apache. When you think of the true meaning of this camp wide relay, you understand how connected we all are and how each part makes up the whole. There was a camper who really didn’t want to run his race today. For whatever reason he didn’t like his task. He was teary and sad and wanted to switch his with someone else’s. But in the very long standing tradition of Apache, there are absolutely no switches or tradsies. We live and die by the history of Apache and today was no different. What happened next was magnificent. I saw his counselors, captains and lieutenants of his team stand by this boy who was nervous of letting the team down. They would not let him fail. No matter if he walked it, they were doing it together and that is exactly what happened. He got up and waited for the baton to be handed to him and as he wiped away his tears, he ran that race with counselors in tow all telling him how he can do this. He wasn’t alone and their encouragement was the push he needed. After he was finished, he dropped tp the ground and lofted his arms like Rocky Balboa. I did it, he said. It was hard and running from the canteen all the way up to mini golf isn’t an easy fete but with people by his side showing him that he can, he did!!

Girl’s side ran their hearts out at their track meet and boy’s side jumped in the pool and swam to their finish line at their swim meet this afternoon. It was a full day of active campers here with Apache and the swim and track meets.Our kids are pushing themselves to their personal best and it shows. We are all exhausted but the War isnt over and our team needs us.

Our campers downshifted a bit as they were spectators at our staff game night. The staff played basketball, volleyball, softball and wiffle ball and our campers cheered them as they fought for Color war points. The weather was perfect and night was ideal. The sky was actually pink as the sun set over fiddle lake. It was one of those summer nights you dream about.

The excitement is growing and the kids are giving everything they’ve got into this Color War. There is a mere 31 points the separate 1st and 2nd Place and both teams are fighting for every single point. Tomorrow is the last day of games and we end this 5-day competition tomorrow night with Sing. In the end as it always does, it all comes down to Sing.

Chenny Out