It's never goodbye… It's just see you later

It’s so hard to believe that it’s that time to say goodbye. The last 50 days have been amazing and we cannot thank you enough for sharing your kids with us. We have watched them grow over these last seven weeks. We have watched them accomplish things they thought they couldn’t. We have seen them make lifelong friends and watched how they have made Chen-A-Wanda their summer home. As you sifted through the thousands of pictures and watched endless hours of video from this summer, we hope you got a sense of what amazing things your children did this summer. It has been our priveledge and honor to care for your kids.  Thank you again for trusting us with your kids and believing in the magic of Chen-A-wanda. We read the following letter we wrote to your children tonight just before memory night.

Enjoy them tomorrow and know we will miss them dearly.

Jon & Elissa

Dear Chen-A-Wanda Campers,

Fifty days ago you all arrived here, excited for the journey that you were about to embark on and here we sit, just having spent the most amazing summer together at Chen-A-Wanda.

We have seen you all grow tremendously in these past 7 weeks. It has been a true joy watching you make new friends and as we all can admit that and that alone is the magic of this place. It isn’t the soccer field or the water trampoline or the trapeze that makes us all come back here. It is the friends we have made along the way and knowing that we have created a true summer family. In these walls, we take care of one another, we celebrate together, we inspire one another and we lift each other up. That is what we do here.

We have seen you work through conflicts and become closer to one another with a true understanding of what the word friendship truly means. We cannot truly express the feeling we get as we watch all of you take care of one another. When one of you is sad, you have a group of people who will instantly come to your rescue and wrap their arms around you until you feel safe and better. That doesn’t exist in the real world but it does here at Chen-A-Wanda.

There is no facebook, no twitter, no computers to occupy us here. There is face to face communication. We are forced to talk things through, to work things out, to face our fears. And you have done this for 7 weeks beautifully. You should be so proud of what you have done here and what each one of you has accomplished. You have been a part of something pretty spectacular and this will stay with you forever. The summer is now gone but 18465 lives on in every one of us.

We have a philosophy about living our lives as the river rather than the rock. The ultimate goal is to be able to flow through life’s challenges rather than getting stuck in one place.  The Blackout showed us how we all were the river and dealt with a situation where we had no control and we even had fun with the lights out. Continue to be the river. It will make all the difference in your world. That we promise.

We built the Lodge for you but it was you who gave it its’ heart and soul. You sang on the top of your lungs and you danced as if no one in the world was watching you. Where else can that happen? Oh how we will miss singing and dancing at every meal with all of you.  The food filled our bellies but the energy and love in the Lodge filled our souls.

We are so grateful to each one of you in this room. YOU have made summer 2012 magical and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!!!