Until I See You Again

To you our parents at home that have sifted through 1000’s of pictures, watched all of our videos, read our blogs and let their children spread their wings with us all summer long – we say thank you for trusting and believing in us with your beautiful children. We read this letter tonight to them at our last evening in Shields Hall.  We give them back to you a little taller, a little more confident, a lot more capable and with a ton of more friends and a summer family that loves them dearly.  Thank you for sharing them with us. We will never forget summer 2015.

To our Summer Family:

It’s hard to believe it’s over and that tomorrow we all go back  home to a year of school, work, SAT’s, college applications, school team tryouts, homework, play dates, Hebrew school and spending 10 moths away from our summer family. Everyone in this Hall has shared a piece of him or herself with each another and we are all better because of that. There are never two summers that are exactly alike and this one was definitely a standout. Every single one of you matter and helped make summer 2015 insanely awesome.

At this time of the year I typically stand in front of you and reiterate all that you have done and accomplished this summer but this year I must address the invaluable lessons that you taught us every single day. Spending the summer with a group of energetic, creative, fearless, talented, inspirational, funny and caring people enrich our lives and change who we are for the better. You had no devices to separate you from your friends and your connections to each other were stronger than ever. You didn’t text or tag all summer long but instead you talked and had real conversations. You proved to all of us, even me, that a break from the World Wide Web is the best thing you can ever do. We lived in a “real” world these past 7 weeks not a virtual one. You showed us that with laughter and kindness the world is just a better place.

To our incredibly talented, caring and loyal staff:

We watched you give and give and when you thought you had no more to give, you gave more. You put others first and that will forever change who you are. When your campers fell, you picked them up and held them tight. When they felt homesick, you sat with them, put your arms around them and told them they were going to be ok and they would get through this time with you by their side.  When they struggled and felt things were way too hard, you sat with them on your golf cart until wee hours in the morning and showed them how to face their problems. You made them believe that there was no problem too big they couldn’t conquer. When they cried you were there, when they laughed you laughed with them and you affected their lives in ways you will never truly grasp. We are in awe of your spirit and ability to give of yourselves selflessly to our children. Thank you.. thank you.. thank you, from the bottom of our hearts thank you.

To our campers:

You always bring the heartbeat into this camp from the moments the buses roll in, the party starts and it ends the minute you all board those same buses and head home. So many of you faced things this summer that made you better people. You dealt with being away from your parents for the first time and you got through it. You opened your arms to new friends that came into your life and with each new relationship you embraced, your heart grew bigger. You climbed to the very top of the climbing tower even when at first glance you said you cold never do that, you did and with every step, you were encouraged by a group of friends who told you can!!! You found your voice and sang out loud and you learned that dancing in front of your friends in the Lodge is just plain cool. These things you would not ever dare do at home, you do here. The rules here are just different here.  There is no judgment or fear here and this is where you can be the best version of yourselves. We want you to always remember that you are perfect just the way you are.

And when I stood right on this very spot 49 days ago and shared with you that this was the summer of Kindness and challenged you to do 2 kind acts a day for someone else this summer, YOU ALL turned that small idea into a huge movement. Our hearts exploded seeing that kindness box overflowing with over 1300 nominations this summer. There were 75 kids who are sporting the coolest “I’m an kind camper” T-shirt but the truth is everyone here deserved that same recognition as we read each and every nomination you all put in that box.  When we sat in base camp and sifted through hundreds and hundreds of kind acts every week, tears would fill my eyes as you described the kind things you saw your friends do this summer and maybe more importantly how they made you feel. When you wrote, “She included me when I felt left out” and “He made me smile when I felt sad” and maybe the one that tugged our heartstrings the most was – “My friend saw me crying after everyone fell asleep in my bunk cause I was homesick so he came over to my bed and put his arm around me and told me it’s gonna be ok because we’d get through this night together, just him and me” Those moments define why Camp Chen-A-Wanda is a family. Thank you for sharing those priceless moments with us. We could not be more proud of everyone on this Hall for being so kind to one another. It changes who you are and changes the world we live in. Keep it going and bring kindness home. Spread the love so everyone knows how good it feels to be kind.

So this is it Camp Chen-A-Wanda. Summer 2015 is officially in the books. Don’t ever forget the time we spent together and always, always be the river.  Thank you… Thank you …from the bottom of our hearts, thank you!!!!!

Until next summer….Chenny out