Chen-A-Wanda News

Our EPIC Summer

To Our Chenny Families at home,

What a year and a half we have all had and giving your children a safe summer of fun and freedom was our number one goal. This was no easy fete and it took a partnership between all of us to make it happen. You believed in us and got behind what we needed to do to give your kids the summer they so desperately needed. Well, they did it, you did it, we all did it and we did it for our children. They thrived this summer. They were kids this summer. They didn’t worry this summer. They weren’t stuck inside the house this summer. They felt life was back to normal this summer and it was. The world we created for them up here tucked away in the beautiful mountains on a gorgeous lake set the stage for a summer we will never forget.

Our journey in summer 2021 ends tomorrow but the friendships are lifelong and the memories we all shared will get us through those hard winter nights. It was by far the most challenging and complicated summer we have ever planned but sometimes the hardest things we do are the most rewarding. Watching all of our kids embrace each other and this experience was worth every pain staking moment it took to get us here. Thank you for trusting and believing in us. Your support means the world to us and we are so grateful to have a community that got behind every decision we made and every pivot we had to make in order to get to this moment right now. Tomorrow you get to hug and hold your babies and our hope is that they share all the amazing moments, stories and experiences we have had with them all summer long. They gave us way more than we gave them. I have been writing to you all summer long in my blogs but tonight I wrote the following to your kids.

Forty-Nine days ago, you rolled into camp and buses were replaced with covid tests and masks made it impossible for us to hug one another that first week. We waited for all those test results to come back and that moment we shared at the amphitheater on the fourth of July when Brian Leahy announced we were all negative and told us to take off our masks marked the moment I knew our summer family could get through just about anything. We leaned on one another and believed that we could create an epic summer for you and that is exactly what we did.  We learned that we could all do hard things and the gifts waiting for us would be so worth it and boy were they worth it. We hugged and leaped into each others arms and like magnets were were drawn back to the joy of standing near one another without fear, sitting next to each other without worry and holding hands without thinking we shouldn’t. This pandemic tried to keep us all separate but we all followed the rules and we won. There was no covid in our house and life felt normal here. We spent 49 glorious days feeling the freedom and connection that Chenny brings into our lives. This summer meant more to us than any summer we’ve ever planned. It meant more to us to be able to give you the summer you all deserved and watching you all thrive here meant, we did it right and we did this for you. From Sweet Sixteens to Nancy Tuckers Fake Outs to Chipotle Nights and Krispy Kreme mornings, this summer was unique in every way and you proved that it’s not where you are but who you are with that matters most.

To our Incredible Staff: Signing up to be a camp counselor coming-out of a global pandemic was a unique choice but one that we are so very grateful you made. You shared your heart with us and gave our kids everything you had. You gave all of yourself to this experience and when your tank was on empty you somehow found a way to give more. We hope you leave here tomorrow with more friends than when you came and had experiences throughout this summer that have enriched and positively impacted your lives.  Thank you for giving so much of yourselves to our campers, each other and to this place and we hope that wherever you go, you will forever remember that crazy fun summer spent at Camp Chen-A-Wanda.

To our Amazing Campers: You are the heartbeat of this place and you brought life back to camp. You rolled with all of life’s changes and made the choice to be the river and not the rock. You see, rivers roll with current and get to see and experience the beauty life offers along the way and rocks stay in one place, seeing only what is around them and they miss out on so much that life offers. Thank you all for being the river this summer. You embraced this summer and let new people into your world. You laughed and danced and held hands and played ball with one another. You faced your fear of heights and climbed that tall ladder at trapeze and took a leap of faith. You got through homesickness this summer and you even rocked our one and only virtual visiting day. Moments that seemed impossible, you walked though with grace and dignity. YOU did it and that is how each of us get to be the best versions of ourselves, doing things we thought we couldn’t. 

From our first ever and ONLY Rookies who stole our hearts this summer – You came into camp and dominated with your cuteness. Thank you Rookies for making us smile all summer long. You are rock stars and we will miss you like crazy. To each and every Freshman, Junior, Middy and Inter, 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. 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. Those late night talks you had during flashlight time is why friendships here are so meaningful. We are real here, we are authentic here and we are accepted for exactly who we are here.

To upper camper: you spent your 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. There was an openness you all brought to camp this summer and it showed. We were so proud to see you all embrace new friendships and renew old ones too. Not being together last summer only made our connections grow deeper and made this summer so much more meaningful. Upper camp brought the spirit this summer and watching you was joyful. You gave us hope that life will feel like this again soon.

Collegiates: You left camp two years ago as little kids and came back this summer as full fledged teenagers and we loved watching you enter this stage of your life. Your division was fabulously funny, incredibly spirited and we loved watching you soar this summer. Get ready for the start to your travel experience next summer with 2 amazing trips. Were excited to get that ball rolling for our Supers of summer 22.

Hey Seniors, we can’t wait to welcome you to your GC summer – A trip out west is in your future and we are so happy to get that going for such a great group of kids.  You brought the fun this summer and if you weren’t on a court or field you were just loving hanging with your friends. It made us all happy to see those bonds between you continue to grow.

Hey Supers.. or let’s call you the CIT’s of 2022. It’s now your turn on the Hill. We cannot wait to see you shine next summer and have no doubt you will officially and brilliantly bring back CIT’s to Camp Chen-A-Wanda!! You bonded together as one division on your camping trip and just think what lays ahead as you head out West for you trip next summer. A trip out West for both Divisions will be happening for our oldest kids on camp next summer. We are so excited to get busy and start planning 2 incredible trips for you, our GC’s and CIT’s of summer 2022.

Now to the cool kids in the back of the room, our GC’s of 2021. You set the tone this summer with your infectious spirit, undeniable positivity and determination to make every moment count. You came back to camp with the most positive outlook, the biggest open heart and you spent your summer being inclusive and just plain AWESOME!! You were a true division in every sense of that word. You grew together and the bonds you share are evident to everyone around you. The littlest kids looked up to you and you showed them what this place can bring into your life, friends for a lifetime and memories that make you smile. You left your mark at camp and we are grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for making this summer truly EPIC.

So, here we are at the end of this road.. A summer that has meant more to us than any other summer in our history.  No matter where you go or where you are, we hope you think of this place and your time here and we hope it brings you joy.. We ask each and every one of you sitting here in front of us to remember, on those cold winter nights how this place made you feel and how it filled your life with amazing new friends that care about you as much as you care for them. It’s our hope that Camp Chen-A-Wanda impacted your life for the better and how we all created a world of kindness and compassion that will last far beyond the 7 weeks we just spent here together. So as you head back out to the “real world” no matter what that looks like, share a little Chenny with everyone you meet. Dance on tables, sing out loud, hold hands, play jacks, get a card game going with some friends, tell the people who you love how much they mean to you and don’t sweat the small stuff. Thank you all for taking this journey with us. You gave us hope and inspiration that life can and will feel normal again and for that we are forever grateful. Thank you Chenny, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!

Banquet 2021

Reality has set in that our last days of summer 2021 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 Rookies to the GC’s, nobody is ready to step out of this life yet but all great things must come to and end and this summer was most definitely great and what we all needed so desperately.

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 amazing and happy. Divisions 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. This night was perfect and our campers enjoyed the most delicious dinner.  They feasted on filet or fried chicken sliders and french fries with mac n cheese bites and pigs in a blanket.  The kids loved their meal but the big hit was dessert as everyone went crazy for chocolate lava cake. It was an absolute incredible night as we celebrate the most epic summer yet.

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 an award 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. Congratulations to the standout campers. We are so proud to that you are part of the Chenny family.

CAMPERS OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2021 – Girls side
HONOR ATHLETE ALL AROUND
ROOKIES Tess Goldstein Sloane Lewis Aubrey Donson
FRESHMEN Emma Blumenthal Emerson Bloom Charley Roth/Alivia Johnson
JUNIORS Ella Goldberg Lexi Plotnick Abby Sugarman
MIDDIES Jessica Marks Maddy Rosen Nicole Donoghue
INTERS Sofie Girrantana Carly Rubenstein Liv Sherman
COLLEGIATES Lexi Nelson Remi Zaben Dylan Bloom
SENIORS Sarah Fernbach Jolie Krieger Rebecca Stulberger
SUPERS Jess Jaffe Ava Sobel Lily Passen
GC’S Abby Ostrager Tali Fox Jordana Yacht
OVERALL CAMPERS OF THE YEAR
HONOR ATHLETE ALL AROUND
Lower Camp Jessica Marks Carly Rubenstein Aubrey Donson
Upper Camp Abby Ostrager Ava Sobel Jordana Yacht

 

CAMPERS OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2021 – Boys Side
HONOR ATHLETE ALL AROUND
ROOKIES Hudson Greenstein Alex Orlando Ryder Diamond
FRESHMEN  Lucan Pillersdorf Ryan Mallin Cole Pruss
JUNIORS  Logan Shapiro Jordan Ockner Kyle Goodman
MIDDIES  Landon Shlanger Jake Shiffman Ryan Donoghue
INTERS  Ian Rubin Gavin Ryback Jed Schissler
COLLEGIATES Morgan Kushner Chase Goldman Alex Lindenbaum
SENIORS  Derek Herzog Bennett Votano Ryan Leest
SUPERS  Wyatt Jacobs Jacob Pinsk Brandon Witz
GC’s  Griffin Gurewicz  Max Leff Jacob Gold
OVERALL CAMPERS OF THE YEAR
HONOR ATHLETE ALL AROUND
Lower Camp Hudson Greenstein Jordan Ockner Ryan Donoghue
Upper Camp Griffin Gurewicz Bennett Votano Ryan Leest

After the Awards, it was party time and we danced all night long. Shields Hall was full of campers who let loose and danced uuntil the very last song was played. It was a party like no other and we celebrated hard!! It was over the top fun having our last true dance party with our summer family. It’s so hard to believe our summer is over but we definitely went out with a bang. As campers headed back to their bunks full of LED headphones and unicorn headbands, T-shirts, glow rings and light up mickey mouse ears. It was the best way to end a summer like no other and the good vibes were all around tonight. We have every reason to celebrate and that is what we all did tonight. One more day to go!

Late Night With Leahy

Today was a brunch wake up and boy did we all need those extra zzzzzzz’ss.  After our 5 day Color War, the sleep was so was well deserved. It was a clean up day as we prepare for packing day tomorrow.  The sun was shining and it was a relaxed dat at camp. Things are winding down and it feels like summer is getting close to the end. With only a few more day to go, reality is setting in – Summer ’21 is wrapping up.

Center camp looked like a movie set with kids having a catch together, throwing the Frisbee to one another and swinging on swings without a care in the world. Imagine a world where there is just no pressure and kids outside in the fresh air playing all day long? Your children are in that world for 2 more days here at Chenny and we are making sure that every moment counts.

It was Camper of the Week today and you know how we feel about our superstar campers who earn this coveted award. They are standouts and deserve every accolade. Congratulations to this weeks Campers of the Week!!

Rookies: Ruby Brief/ Reid Sterling

Freshman: Mara Cohen / Harrison Pilkerton

Juniors: Victoria Portanova / Zac Lederman

Middies: Brynn Stern/ Jack Zaben

Inters: Sammie Keane/ Max Coffman

Collegiates: Ava Goldenberg / Jake Seilback

Seniors: Ally Yagaloff / Jacob Coffman

Supers: Liv Mallor / Jack Dubinsky

GC’s: Holden Baris / Jayden Sardoff

The most anticipated evening activity of summer is Late Night with Leahy and tonights show was INCREDIBLE. So entertaining , there is no other way to describe it other than beyond belief funny and fabulously entertaining. Brian Leahy creates the most entertaining videos and produces a show that is funny beyond belief and wraps up our summer with the most perfect late night talk show twist.  There are incredibly funny videos, dances, TikToks and Beats Headphones giveaways.  Campers and staff absolutely went crazy for the hilarity of what they witnessed tonight. It was a perfect way to end a perfect day and the ideal warp up to summer 2021. Ask your camper how Late Night was and we know they’d say, BEST SHOW EVER followed by a chant everyone on camp knows all to well…BRRIIIAAAN LEAHHHHHYYYY!!!!

Just two more days to go until summer ’21 is in the books. We have had the most EPIC summer to date and our Chenny spirit is flying high here. You can feel the energy, it’s undeniable. Banquet tomorrow followed by memory night. We are heading into a Great Ending to summer 2021.

Red Retro Game Night Are Champions of Color War 2021

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 GC’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 GC’s have left their mark and were the heart and soul of Chenny in Summer 2021.

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 and hear.

It all comes down to Sing and tonight and this Color War was no different. It all came down to Sing. For the first time in Chenny’s history we held Sing outside on Shields Hall court.

There were tears as Red Retro Game Night sang their Alma Mater and included beautiful lyrics that embodied the feelings they have as their summer comes to an end:

Our time here is fading, it’s true

Sitting side by side just me and you

Need to cherish the time before it’s through

Chenny I am happier, thanks to you

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 five days as two teams are now back together as one connected camp family.  Gold Video Gamers so perfectly conveyed in their Alma Mater:

Waking up in four days separated from this special place

Without seeing your face

Listen when they say

Cherish your time here

Because leaving you is my biggest fear

In a Chenny tradition of musical chairs, the last Judge to grab his/her seat was Red and that relayed the winner of Color War 2021. There was joyous elation throughout the Red 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 2021 is just about done.

We walked onto Shields Hall court tonight as two very separate teams but came out as ONE! The love we all feel here and the connection we have formed is pure magic. There is no other way to explain it other than pure magic. When you think it just can’t get better, it does. It was the my most favorite Color War yet. The weather was perfect, the splits were incredible, the spirit was over the top, the good vibes were flowing and this experience we just all shared was just incredible. Tomorrow is late wake up and when we made that announcement that lower camp gets to sleep in until 9:45am and upper camp gets woken up at 10:45am, the cheers were deafening. Everyone is excited for some extra sleep after the hard work we all just put in these last five days. Brunch day tomorrow and  now we down shift to the final 3 days here. Getting close to the end but what is left is the cherry on top. We  save the best for last – Coming up these last three nights – Late Night with Leahy, Banquet and Memory Night. The magic continues until we load those buses.

 

Apache

Apache Relay defines our Color War and this long-standing camp tradition is one where every member plays a part in its outcome. There are things that you can count on and Apache is one of those things. 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. It’s the most fun amazing race and the energy throughout camp was intense. Regardless if this was your first Apache or seventh, it was just a blast of a day where every single person on each team mattered. We love apache and what it stands for. Gold Video Gamers came in first in Apache. The race is close and its anyones game.

As if running the Apache Relay in the morning didn’t push us physically and mentally enough, we pushed ourselves even further as 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 playing hard and going strong and most importantly, having the greatest time.

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. Staff had a ball with a night of fun and games. Our campers clapped and cheered them all the way to the end!! This spirit we feel is contagious and infectious. Its hard not to have the best day up here.

The excitement is growing and the kids are giving everything they’ve got into this Color War. 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.