Today was an incredible day for so many reasons. The obvious is that we are having an insane color war. The weather was beyond perfect and we played all day long. But that was not the reason why this day was remarkable. We had our first ever alumni day and we welcomed 250 alum from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s all the way through the 00’s. It was as if a Chen-A-Wanda history book walked through our gates. They were so incredibly happy to be back at their summer home and more importantly, your children were so welcoming, gracious and inquisitive to each and every alum that was on camp today.
There was a gentleman, Tom Wilbert and his wife that went to this camp in the 1950’s and had met here. They have been married for over 60 years and were literally celebrities. Dozens upon dozens of campers surrounded them, listening to stories from way back when. He shared his childhood with us today and and a piece of his heart. He told us all that wherever he traveled to or whichever stage of his life he was in, his time at this camp was pivotal in making him the man he is. He shared stories of his youth and how important this place was for him and for out kids to not take one day for granted. He mentioned that he often thinks about this place and it brings him joy. He hasn’t been back for over 50 years but the feeling is the same. This was nothing short of amazing and your children showed such admiration and excitement with every word Tom shared with them. I watched Tom relive his youth as he told story after story. It was a treasure chest of wonderful moments that we all can relate to. He ended with telling everyone he could, to not waste a moment because time here is finite and all you will be left with are memories.
The day was just emotional and joyful. Our alumni visited their old bunks, searching for their plaques, going building to building reliving the best time of their lives. And your kids were in awe. It was a common bond everyone on camp shared. The thread that linked us all together. From 7 – 95 there was a common bond that linked us all together. Your children are part of a long history of a place that has changed lives and is so meaningful to so many. They too will one day come back and have stories of their own to share. They too will feel the impact of how this place changed them and they too will never forget their summers at this magical place. They may not remember every score of every game or recall every name to every counselor they had but I can bet with 100% certainty, they will never forget the way this place makes them feel. That was the theme today with each and every alumni that was on camp. The way this place made them feel changed who they are for the better. It was a day that took our breath away.
Tonight at Rope Burn, we all sat a little closer, embraced one another a little longer and all took what Tom Wilbert said to heart – embracing each moment we have the privilege of spending here at Camp Chen-A-Wanda.
Life Was Is and Will Always Be GREAT at Camp Chen-A-Wanda.