Category: Alumni Spotlight

Mark Resendez & Hanna Hidasi Resendez

Hanna and I met in 2015. It was her first summer and my second. She worked in the kitchen, while I was an Assistant Head Counselor for Navajo boys.

Initially, we only saw each other in the lodge or just in passing. I’ll never forget the way she looked at me then because it’s the same way she does now, the slight head tilt, soft, kind big brown eyes, near crater sized dimples, and pursed lips…..rendered me helpless. Without fail, my heart, stomach, and smile would instantly drop, turn, and grin every time I entered the lodge. It became an obstacle to navigate the steps without tripping.

It wasn’t long until we met up at Chet’s and quickly learned that we had several commonalities. They included our shared love for obscure animals, visiting national parks, traveling, and laughing. It’s a tad funny that we both agreed that we are each the nicest person either of us has ever met – it was instant trust.

Soon after, Hanna and I spent an overnight to Niagara Falls, and the rest is history. After nearly three years of traveling between the U.S. and Hungary, we are proud to report that we got engaged in Greece in July and married in Las Vegas, where we currently reside.

It’s a remarkable feeling to know that you have the ability to care about someone more than yourself. Three years ago, I would have never imagined that my name would be synonymous with marriage, but it is and I’m absolutely thrilled about it.

We couldn’t be happier with the outcome of our chances of meeting at CAW. Many thanks to everyone for the good wishes, encouragement, and support.

I wanted to give a super ‘Thank You’ to Brian Leahy for the willingness to recommend an old friend to experience camp, Jon and Elisa Grabow for granting me the opportunity to grow as a person and ultimately meet my wife, and lastly Kevin Breen, for helping me to realize that I would kick myself if I didn’t follow up with Hanna when the summer of 15′ was over. So, I took his advice, now we get to live the summer of 2015 for the rest of our lives. Thanks, Kev, we miss you brotha!

Happy #WandaWednesday!

Happy Valentine’s Day all!

Jake-Jack Riley & Alyssa Nienhaus Riley

Jack and Alyssa met during the Summer of 2008. Alyssa was the Lacrosse Specialist and a counselor for the Supers, while Jack was the Baseball Specialist and counselor for the Waiters turned Baseball Director. This was Alyssa’s first summer at Chen-A-Wanda, but Jack started working at Chenny in the Summer of 2006 and was a popular friend and staff member.

They were first introduced by the campfire, and although Alyssa thought Jack was super hot, he also seemed a bit “too cool” to talk to her and they didn’t really hit it off. His attitude quickly changed during the staff bowling night when Alyssa approached Jack and his buddies and asked to join their lane. On the bus ride back to camp that night, Jack insisted that Alyssa sat next to him. Alyssa was so impressed with how Jack listened intently to her stories until Jack abruptly cut her off and said, “Sorry, I really have to pee” before leaving her and running to the front of the bus. The next day, Jack apologized for leaving Alyssa and promised to make it up to her by being her partner for the team building activities for the rest of orientation.

As the summer continued, Jack and Alyssa frequently used their trusted campers to pass love notes to each other and when camp ended that year, they decided to keep their relationship going.

They were married September 18, 2010, surrounded by Chenny love including their wonderful bridal party Chris Evans, Alicia Lantzy (Sciore), Chris Tucker, Paddy Rynne, Libby Hartley (Richmond), Tom White, and Dan Godshall.

They currently live in St. Louis, Missouri with their sweet dog, Kylee. Jack is an elementary PE Teacher and Alyssa is a Child Care Facilities Specialist for the State of Missouri. Summer 2011 was their last summer working at Chenny. Jack and Alyssa both agree that they owe the beautiful life they have built together to Jon, Elissa, and their Chen-A-Wanda family.

Mark Kelly & Samantha Pacamarra Kelly

Even though Mark had been part of the camp’s waterfront staff since 2010 and Sam had been a nurse in the Health Center since 2012, we didn’t start dating until the summer of 2014. That year, on Staff Bowling Night, Sam got “sheep herded” onto a bus by Mark…literally PUSHED onto the bus (and blocked from getting off) and shoved into a 2-seater that Mark quickly sat down in next to me! We got to chatting on the bus ride back and, the next evening, Mark picked Sam up from the Health Center (in Paul Elmendorf’s Mini Cooper – thanks buddy!) for our first date at Chet’s. We gradually started spending more and more of our free time together, and by the end of summer 2014, we were driving cross-country on our first road trip as a couple. When Mark left to go back to Scotland in September, Sam was a wreck but made her first trip to Mark’s “motherland” that November and has been in love with Scotland (and Mark) ever since. In between our twice-yearly trips (each to the other’s country), Facebook Messenger and FaceTime kept us sane. We even made a tradition of having “Pizza Sundays,” where each of us would get a pizza and pick the same movie or episode of a TV show to watch over FaceTime. It was our virtual date night. Thank God for technology!

In September of 2015, after saving up all of his wages from camp that summer, Mark [very nervously] proposed to Sam in Orlando, FL. She said yes! Sam and her parents were already planning a trip to Scotland at the end of October that year so that our families could meet. Excited and eager to be together and living in the same country for good, we decided to get married during that trip. On November 2, 2015, we got married in Greenock, Scotland with our parents, Mark’s family, and a handful of friends (including former camp waterfront staff members Clair Donnachie and Steph Devine) in attendance. Though we’d initially planned to keep the wedding a secret and had hopes of having a “big American wedding” that more of our friends and relatives could attend, we were overjoyed and soon made it “Facebook official.” In September 2016, our family grew by one when we got our English Bulldog puppy, Jack. Then, in January 2017, Mark was officially granted Permanent Resident status and immigrated to the US.

This past year has felt like a whirlwind for us. After all of the time, we spent apart, literally separated by an ocean and international borders, we still talk about how hard it is for us to believe that we’re both finally living in the same place together…permanently! At the very center of our story, is our home away from home — Camp Chen-A-Wanda! Without camp, there would be no “us.” We are so grateful and appreciative for all of the experiences and opportunities that camp has brought us, and for all of the people that we’ve met and worked with along the way, including and especially each other.

Stan Schulman & Helene Panzer Schulman

The best moment of my life happened in 1980 at Camp Chen-A-Wanda, during counselor orientation when I met my future wife, Helene Panzer.

My C-A-W history…I’m Stan Schulman from Fair Lawn, NJ. I started at C-A-W as a camper in Bunk E during the summer of 1970. My next twelve summers were spent on beautiful Fiddle Lake. I began as a camper in 1970 and ended my C-A-W career in 1981. In 1980, my friend, Stella Rawitz (1968 – 1980), brought her college roommate to C-A-W. Helene was Group Leader for the oldest girls while I was Group Leader for the oldest boys. A match made in heaven, right?!

The minute I met Helene at staff orientation, I said to myself Helene was the girl of my dreams; she was smart and beautiful. Helene thought something different; she thought to herself, she hopes the next 8 weeks go by quickly so she could go back to college! I pursued my dream girl and slowly she changed her mind as she began hoping the next several weeks would go by slowly. Our first dance was at The Candlelight Inn as well as our first kiss!

Fast forward 4 years…We married June 17, 1984. So, we’ve celebrated 38 Valentine’s Days together because we met in 1980 at Camp Chen-A-Wanda!

We’ve raised 3 children; Haley (25), Shelby (23), and Joey (22). Haley and Joey are also C-A-W alumni.

So, the lesson here is if you’re lucky, and the stars align properly in the heavens, you may meet and marry your dream girl or boy at Camp Chen-A-Wanda.


Gene Zober & Diane Tanzillo Zober

I’m Diane Tanzillo Zober and I was introduced to Camp Chen-A-Wanda by my husband, Gene Zober.

Although we met while at college, Gene went off and was a counselor for the GC boys in the Summer of 1981. I came to Chen-A-Wanda in the Summer of 1982 as a counselor for the Juniors girls and Gene was now head of the waiters. Being together at camp took our relationship to the next level.

The following summer, in 1983, I was a Group Leader for the Middies and Gene was Head Waiter. Our hometowns were about an hour and a half apart, so during the school year, it wasn’t easy for us to be together during time off from school. Being at Chen-A-Wanda gave us the opportunity to be together, have fun, meet some fascinating people and make life-long friends both here and abroad without having to worry about classes and studying. The time we spent at camp allowed us to really get to know each other, push and test our relationship, and it ultimately helped take us to the next level; we knew that we wanted to stay together. We have now been married for thirty-three (33) years and were thrilled to have had had some of our Chen-A-Wanda family at our wedding.

Our camp days are some our favorite memories that we love to share with our kids! If it wasn’t for our summers at CAW, we sometimes wonder who and where we would be…

Thank you CAW for providing me this love and Happy Valentine’s Day!