Michelle Flax

My Chenny story starts back in 2002 when I started at camp Chen-A-Wanda as a Middy girl at the age of 10. Previous summers before, I had spent my summer days at a local day camp on Long Island and was getting bored. I wanted a change and a new experience. When I toured Chen-A-Wanda, I instantly felt at home. The atmosphere, the warmth, and camp spirit were contagious and I knew this was going to be my summer home for a long time.

However, I started camp that summer in 2002 and cried every day. I was homesick, missed my friends and parents, and didn’t think it was the place for me. I was comforted day after day by amazing counselors, Head Counselors, and friends, but that was a very hard summer for me. My parents remember driving halfway to camp to get me but turning around knowing this was an experience I had to get through on my own. Little did they think I would get off that bus on the last day of camp and say to them “I think I want to go back next summer.” I think their faces dropped to the ground. We spent a lot of time preparing for that next summer, hoping it would be different. I was eager to go back and they were hoping I would be less homesick. I was anxious but wanted to try the experience again and give it my all, and I did.

Going back that following summer was the best decision I ever made. Without camp, my life would be completely different and I would be a totally different person then I am today. I spent those next summers Inter to CIT, creating bonds with my camp friends, walking arm in arm down girl’s side, living in a bunk with my best friends, chanting during meals in the dining hall, spending most of my days on the tennis courts, joining sports teams (although I was never a great athlete), working on my summer tan, walking up the hill and creating memories that would last a lifetime. My camper days were some of the best days of my life. I looked forward to camp every summer, living 10 for 2 to spending time with my camp friends.

My transition from camper to counselor was scary. How could I go from living in a bunk with my camp friends to being a counselor in charge of my own campers? However, my Junior Counselor summer was one of my favorite summers at camp to this day. I lived in a bunk with my Freshmen girls (who are now about to be CIT’s and Junior Counselors) and had amazing co-counselors. I loved bonding with my campers and I made new camp friends while keeping the old as well. I went on to be a counselor for three summers becoming Olympic Captain, Color War Lieutenant and being awarded counselor of the year. I thought my counselor years couldn’t get better, and then I became a Group Leader for the Inter girls in 2012. I loved being a group leader for my Inter girls and building relationships with my counselors as well. However, nothing can compare to the day when Gary Shields called me to base camp to ask me if I would come back the following summer to be an Assistant Head Counselor. I was nervous, scared, and excited all at the same time. Of course, I said yes and started Summer 2013 in Mohican Camp (middle ages) under Amy Simmons, one of my best camp friends to this day. That summer was truly amazing. Since then I have been in both Navajo and Mohican camp as the Girls Head Counselor with each summer getting better and better than the last. Now, I am entering my sixteenth summer at this amazing place as the Mohican girls side Head Counselor for the sixth year and I am so excited what this summer has in store for me. In the offseason, I took a career path that would allow me to come back to camp summer after summer. In the winter I work as a Special Education Teacher in Manhattan and just completed my master’s degree in General Education and Special Education 1-6. My job is both rewarding and challenging, but working with kids, I knew was always my path in life.

Throughout my Chenny journey, I have met many people that have helped shape me into the strong, kind-hearted, loving and independent person I am today. I have learned many life lessons, fallen in love, and created friendships and memories to last a lifetime. I have watched my campers grow from little girls into young adults and helped them along the way as they became counselors to their very own campers. Camp has been an amazing experience for me and I am so excited to see where the next chapter takes me as the rest of my journey is still to come! Bring on Chenny 18!!