Category: Staff Spotlight

Beth Miller

My name is Beth Miller and I am the Art Director at Camp Chen-A-Wanda. 2018 will be my 7th summer at camp and what a journey it has been! I’m not sure where to start on what camp means to me or how it has changed me for the better as a person, but let’s start at the beginning…

I started in 2012 as the Jewelry Specialist and was a counselor for the Junior girls. It’s safe to say that, even throughout the nerves, I instantly fell in love with camp. Your first summer at camp is something that you’ll never forget. Your first Olympics, 4th of July fireworks, Girls Sing, and Color War, just to name a few, and all the excitement that comes with it. After finishing my first summer, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to return, but I had no idea what the next 5 years had in store for me. I stayed as an Arts Specialist for a few summers, before becoming the Art Lead, now, the Art Director.

I can’t imagine myself anywhere else, but in the fun, beautiful hectic building that we call Art and Crafts.I love being in the middle of the camper’s creativity – from bunk plaques to Girls Sing and DIY Halloween costumes, I’ve seen it all. The best part of my job is helping campers create something that they are proud of (even if I’m covered in glitter for days!).

Something that makes camp so special is seeing the campers return summer after summer, and seeing how they have grown throughout the year. Having watched my girls grow from little Juniors to now bright, happy teenagers is something I will always treasure.


The bonds that I’ve made with other counselors have been so unique too. It’s crazy how you go from complete strangers to best friends within such a short time. I and a few other counselors have traveled around the world together, which we refer to as ‘Chenny on Tour’, including places like Thailand, Paris, the Middle East, and Costa Rica. We became best friends with our common love for camp, and although we have traveled to many places, Chenny will always be our favorite.

I can’t begin to thank camp for all it has given me over the years and how it’s positive impact will stay with me through all stages of my life. I am certain that I will always use the phrase “you do you.” Not only have I gained amazing memories, but also best friends and little sisters. Camp has helped me write many chapters in my life that I’ll cherish forever, but for now and my journeys ahead, the rest is still unwritten.


Corey Unger

Hi. My name is Corey Unger and I am a proud Chenny Alumni. From 8 to 21 years old, one of the few constants in my life was where I would spend my summers. That place was Camp Chen-A-Wanda.

Both of my siblings went to Chenny and in the summer of 1999, I visited my sister, Allison, at camp for Visiting Day. For the first time ever, my sister cried as we were leaving. My mom then told Allison that I’d be joining her at camp next year as if that would make her feel any better. From the moment those words left my mom’s mouth, I was hooked. After Allison finally came back from camp, I asked (forced) her to tell me all about camp. That was my new “bedtime story.”  Allison would tell me things about camp activities, traditions, bunks, routines, and trips. My sister even made me charts about things you could eat in the Dining Hall (I was relieved to find out that bagels made the cut). I was obsessed, and I didn’t even truly know what I was obsessed with yet.

Summer 2000 rolled in and I got on the bus to Pennsylvania and never looked back, only knowing one girl I met briefly before camp started. There weren’t Facebook groups or ways to connect with campers easily beforehand. I went in blind. I still remember playing icebreaker games on the baseball field, meeting the girls I am forever friends with for the first time. As days and years passed, I became inseparable with my camp friends. The bond you make is one of a kind and reaches far beyond the bunk and the summer. Together we learned how to problem solve, connect, communicate, and grow as individuals. Whether it was by playing broken telephone, writing an Alma Mater for Girls Sing, or apologizing after a fight. These joint experiences created a friendship and sisterhood that is limitless. All it takes is a text or a photo to bring back a lifetime of memories, even if we haven’t seen each other in years. I am happy to say that we are still friends and make it a point to see each other a few times a year. We always have the best time.
After my CIT summer, I knew I would be back at Chen-A-Wanda to work. I had an amazing camper-counselor, Allie, who played a huge part in my CAW experience; I wanted to be that for someone else, or at least try. I became a Junior Counselor, General Counselor, and then a Group Leader for the girls I was a CIT for. I followed them from their Middy summer to their CIT summer. As my camp friends stopped coming back to camp, these girls continued to teach me lessons on building relationships, solving problems, seeing things from a new perspective and learning to roll with the punches. It was a tough job, one of the hardest I have ever had, but also the most rewarding. My campers became my little sisters and a new generation that loved camp was born. I am proud of the relationships I have built with them and they still text me for La Piazza dinner dates when home from college!

Not a day goes by that a song, a memory, a joke, or a picture doesn’t remind me of a Chen-A-Wanda. Seeing my camp friends and my campers grow and make positive changes in the world are amazing and those summers changed us all for the better. I am currently a Speech Language Pathologist in a special education school in Queens, New York. My time at Chenny and the lessons I learned continue to guide me in this role, and in all aspects of my life. It is impossible, to sum up, what a 14 year (but lifelong) experience has done for me in just a few paragraphs, but I tried. To the new campers just starting out on their Chenny careers, embrace it. I promise it will be worth it. To old/former campers, if you haven’t spoken to your camp friends in a while, send them a message or a picture. Reach out and make lunch plans. You won’t even realize how much you have missed each other until you do.

Issy Hull

My name is Issy Hull, I’m from Wagga Wagga, Australia. I am currently 21 and living in Scotland. This will be my 4th summer at Camp Chen-A-Wanda and I’ll Co-Waterfront Director with the one and only, Hugh Griffiths.

Ever since I was young, my dream was to go to America. We don’t have anything in Australia like a summer camp, so as soon as I found out what they involved, I jumped straight on it. Working with children was always a passion of mine and felt this was the perfect opportunity.

To get to camp, I had to go through an agency. The first and only camp I heard from was CAW. As soon as I saw the website, I knew it was for me and any other camp that came along, wouldn’t have compared.

Before I went to Chenny, I only ever heard great things. I was told by most people I knew, summer camp is a one-time thing and that’s what I went in thinking. I’ll go to camp and surely it will help me figure out what I can do with my life; when I get home, I’ll study or get a full-time job. Oh, boy was I wrong, three summers later and camp helped me discover so many things about myself and got me to where I am today.

I still remember Dan Godshall picking Mark Resendez and I up and them both telling me how great the summer will be. As soon as I stepped foot on camp, I knew I’d be having the best summer. I was lucky enough to be a boat driver my first two summers and was residing in the bunk with Collegiate girls who are now GCs! I have absolutely loved watching them grow up over the past few years and share the summers with them. From watching them kill Girls Sing every summer and stepping outside their comfort zone each day is such an amazing feeling, and knowing that I have contributed to their growth puts a smile on my face.

Being a specialist at Camp Chen-A-Wanda has given me the chance to hang out with all the kids at camp and really get to know them. From taking the Freshmen boys tubing or jumping in the lake with the Middle girls, or watching the GC boys jump in the lake after winning a championship, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather spend my summers.

After my second summer, I was lucky enough to start a job at Wild Packs Summer Camps in Scotland to work in the camp industry full time. Never for one second did I think I would have the chance to move from Australia, to work in Scotland full time, and still get the chance to go back to camp every summer. Working in the office every day with people who go to camp every summer is amazing, as all we do is talk about Color War and how many days there are until camp starts again.

I have met some of my best friends at camp who live all over the world and to think I would have never known them is crazy! Who would have thought that I would run into Neill Hogg in the middle of Edinburgh whilst both at sperate Christmas parties at the same place – that’s what camp does for you; you meet people from all around the world and have a possibility of running into them on the streets or at a local spot.

No matter how many times I try to explain to my parents, family, and friends what camp is, they just don’t understand what’s so special and I guess until you’ve done it, you won’t know the feeling.

Chenny will always be my happy place and my second home. No matter how far I am away from camp or if living 10 for 2 is forever, I’m down.

Always remember…Life is great at Camp Chen-A-Wanda.

Joe Cotton

Hi. My name is Joe, but most people call me JoeCo, and it’s pretty safe to say that Camp Chen-A-Wanda took over my life in 2012.

I was 21 years old and I took a year out from University before my final year to work in the film industry. When my placement fell through, I faced a tough year of trying to find work wherever I could and figured I’d try and get a summer job at Disney World, in Orlando, as part of their student exchange program. That also fell through, as I technically wasn’t a student at the time, so I ultimately didn’t qualify. April rolled around and I felt like I’d wasted my year. My mum and I were looking for summer jobs for me online one day; I was ready to just take the first thing that came up! When we came across an agency that places people at summer camps in the US, I called them up immediately and they told me to fill in a form and they’d get back to me. I wasn’t even sure what a summer camp was or what I’d be doing, but I filled in the form. I listed my skills, my background in scouting and working with kids. One of the questions even asked me to tell a funny joke – this didn’t feel like a normal job application, I thought. I sent off the form and they called me back an hour later to find out more about me and then accepted me onto the program. I was relieved more than anything, but it also dawned on me that I just signed up for something I knew absolutely nothing about. All I knew was that I was going to work with kids in America.

A week or so passed by and I got a call to say I had been placed at a camp, and that I had a Skype interview with the owner the following afternoon. I was nervous. The next morning I prepared myself for questions I thought I might get asked, tidied my bedroom, and dressed for an interview. I got an email from the owner about an hour prior to my call, telling me that they filled the role that morning and that they were sorry for the inconvenience. I felt deflated. A friendly girl from the agency called me right away and assured me that they were working hard to find another place for me.

Literally the next day, I got the call. A camp in Pennsylvania wants a Drum Specialist that can also do sound and lighting. A whole summer of playing drums in America, what could be better!? I stopped myself from getting too excited, from past experience, but I had the Skype interview. Then a second. Then confirmation. I’m in. I got nervous again.

On June 15th, 2012, I turn up at the airport to meet other first-year counselors so we could make the daunting journey together. They all seem nice, I thought to myself, I relaxed a little and we began our travel to camp.

Now, there’s not a lot of people at Chenny these days that knew 2012 Joe, but those who did will tell you that I wasn’t the loudest person. Unfortunately, I’d overcompensated for this by being super loud on the Chenny Staff Facebook page. Needless to say, when I turned up at camp, I can only think that I resembled a deer in headlights. It was late when we arrived. It was dark and this place was in the middle of nowhere. Everyone stood around talking and laughing, introducing themselves to each other. I’m pretty sure I was just off to one side, frozen, just watching. I’ll never ever forget how, all of a sudden, an arm swung around me, and the beaming smile of Kevin Breen hit me like a bus as he introduced himself to me as my Group Leader, and proclaimed to everyone that “this guy right here”, me, would be Counselor of the Year.

I wasn’t. Not that year, anyway. But that moment changed my perception of camp in an instant, and I knew I would be okay.

I never thought one summer would change my life, but Camp Chen-A-Wanda quickly dug its claws in. I still wasn’t the loud, confident, wacky counselor that you may think you need to be at a place like that, but I came to realize that that was totally okay… encouraged, even. I found other ways to make bonds with my kids; listening to them; chatting with them individually, not just collectively; sitting with them when they were upset or angry or homesick; teaching them how to make their beds and fold their clothes; even being pretty badass with a diablo. On periods off from the School of Rock, I’d go and find my boys and join in with activities. I’d even pass on my days off to go on their trips with them.

The feeling of being respected, loved, and looked-up-to, by what were total strangers just a few weeks beforehand, was just incredible.

Summer 2013 was a no-brainer and, honestly, I did much the same as I did the first year; I kept pretty quiet and I built upon the relationships I’d formed in 2012. This was also the year that Scott Arkin and Scott Levine started calling me JoeCo. Before long, no one called me just Joe anymore. I was still the drum specialist, I still did the sound and lighting, I still spent as much time as I could with my boys. I was even told in an evaluation that I needed to take more breaks, but it just didn’t seem like work to me and I didn’t want to take a break from having a blast. That summer I got Counselor of the Year, along with two others in my bunk, Scott Arkin and, Ben Arden – and I felt like a celebrity.

During the winter I thought about camp most days, if not every day. I just couldn’t wait to be back. I’d get texts from my boys saying they missed me and couldn’t wait to see me – I honestly couldn’t remember what life was like before Chenny. The craziest part was that I’d be going back as Head Staff. I was no longer able to sink into the background and just be Joe. I was JoeCo the Media Director.

Since I’ve been running Media – together with my amazing teams over the years – I’ve brought the standard of content that we produce (that Chenny parents wait up late at night to see) to a new level, and it’s something I’m very proud of and will continue to do as long as I’m here. This role has taught me how to manage people and stay composed under pressure. Having worked in media and videography roles back home, I had the technical experience, but nothing can really prepare you for the camp environment. It can get pretty hectic and tough at times, but it’s always rewarding in the end. (p.s. Late Night with Leahy will always have a special place in my heart!)

I’m still not loud, I’m still kinda shy and reserved, I still prefer to watch from outside than jump in head first. People often say to me that they’re intimidated by me at first and then they get to know me, and I’m so different to what their first impression of me was; and honestly, I’m still working on that. You’ve probably heard countless people quote the Almighty Gary Shields, saying “look after camp, and camp will look after you”, and I feel like I’m a prime example of that. I care about the kids, I care about the staff and the amazing friends I’ve made over my time here, and in return, I’ve been totally blessed with, quite simply, the feeling of belonging, and knowing that I matter to so many people.

I’ll never forget what camp has given me; brothers, sisters, connections I can take with me right through life, a once in a lifetime trip to California, I’ve even started a video production company, Oleka Productions, with Nathan, whom I met at camp, and we now plan to move to America full-time in the coming year. Good thing I didn’t go to Disney World, right? But, above all else, the bond I have with my boys is something I will cherish for a lifetime; watching them grow from little Middies, to now CITs and young adults this summer, there’s something kind of magical about that. My time at camp will end one day, but I know that it will never truly be far at all from my heart or my mind.

Camp Chen-A-Wanda took over my life, but it hasn’t really changed me; it’s just taught me to be myself.

Carolann Del Bene

You never think that you could miss a place or the people you are with for only two months as much as myself after working at Camp Chen-A-Wanda. I started working at CAW in 2014, and my life changed for the better. My best friend had worked there the summer before, so I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but you don’t truly understand what you’re getting into until you experience it for yourself. I was told so many stories and how when the campers leave on the last day of camp, I would hysterically cry. I remember thinking to myself, “Cry? Me? Absolutely not!” Let me tell you, on that last day, I cried like a baby.

My first summer at camp, I was a basketball specialist – I got paid to teach and play basketball all day and got to hang with my amazing Junior girls (what could be better?). The following summer in 2015, I became the Group Leader for my girls who were now Middies. In 2016, I was coming back as a Group Leader and a few days before leaving for camp, I was asked to be an Assistant Head Counselor for Mohican Camp and that’s where I still currently am! CAW is so amazing and will change your life regardless of the position you hold. The environment is just something to smile about. The bonds and relationships that you create at Chenny, whether it’s between you and your campers or with the other counselors, is amazing.

Working at camp was a blessing in disguise for me as I was studying to become a Health and PE teacher in college. At times, I was shy and didn’t want to stand out, but Chen-A-Wanda changed that about me…after only one summer! There were so many times to act silly or do something you’re totally not used too, and I am so thankful for that. Now, I’ve dressed up like Hannah Montana and got on stage as if it’s nothing to perform in the Lip Sync Battle in front of the entire camp – that’s around six hundred people! Besides being thankful for camp taking me out of my comfort zone, I am also more than thankful for the lasting friendships that I have made along the way. Even though we are only together for two months, the friends I have made have become my best friends!

For me, being a captain for Color War was a huge highlight! Having a staff Facebook group helped answer a ton of questions, but also had me anxious as many staff members have been there for multiple summers, tons of camper counselors and a lot of Junior Counselors. I was nervous throughout the summer even though I was receiving positive feedback. Coming to work at a summer camp and not being a camper counselor felt difficult even though you were doing a great job! You don’t really know or understand the environment right away and it can be intimidating as some have been at camp for almost 10 years, even if it is their first summer being a counselor. I felt like I was the new one to this place, unfamiliar with camp, and that it would be hard to fit in. With that being said, I never thought I would receive Color War Captain. I remember when it happened, being so shocked, but so humbled. It was a great feeling knowing that I did fit in, and was just as good. Ever since the first week of my first summer, I knew, Camp Chen-A-Wanda would be my home away from home…for a very long time. Bring on Summer 2018!