It’s Not Goodbye…..It’s Just See You Next Summer

To you, our Chenny Parents at home that have read our blogs, watched our videos and sifted through thousands and thousands of pictures and believed in us enough to send your kids to spread their wings with us at Camp Chen-A-Wanda – we simply say thank you for sharing your amazing kids with us all summer long. I have spend the past 49 nights writing to you at home hoping to give you a glance and what is happening inside our gates but tonight I wrote this letter to your children for our last evening activity of Summer ’18. It has been an honor and a privilege spending the summer with your kids. Thank you again for your belief in us and enjoy your kids when they are back in your arms tomorrow. We will miss them so much. Thank you again.

To Our Incredible Chen-A-Wanda Family – 

It has been 49 days since we stood in this very spot and welcomed you to Summer ’18 at Camp Chen A Wanda and now we are back here for our last evening at our summer home. It has been 49 days of incredible moments, 49 days of total freedom, 49 days of navigating this experience with your friends by your side and your counselors holding your hands. These 49 days will stay with you through your life and these moments help shape who you are and who you will become. As you saw from the hundreds of alumni that came back here last weekend,  summers spent here in their youth shaped who they became and boy what they would do to be able to spend just one more summer here at this place that has never ever left their hearts. We watched you open your arms and your hearts to them as you listened to their stories they shared with you and now you share a common bond with all of them – THE LOVE WE ALL FEEL FOR CAMP CHEN-A-WANDA – It ties us all together. You are now part of of this incredible community too, as one day we hope you share your stories made here at Chenny. You are part of something special and like every single camper and staff that came before you, your story matters!!

As we look out at all of your faces, we see incredible people sitting before us. We see bravery, we see empathy, courage and kindness, we see honesty, we see hilariously funny and talented people and a hall full of campers and staff that made us smile every single day. It is hard to describe the feeling in this place to other people and do justice to how amazing it is in here but there isn’t a person in this hall that hasn’t felt what we have feel. Together,  We are the definition of family and each and every one of you make Chen-A-Wanda the incredible place it is. We come from every corner of the globe and together we have created something insanely special.

Our staff is undeniably the best of the best and nobody said it better than Lyla Miller in the ‘This is Why I Wanda” video we just watched when she so perfectly said, “The counselors here take really really really good care of you,” or when Stevie Fuetterman so eloquently described how they aren’t like teachers but more like older sisters or how Spencer Wexler relayed how he doesn’t have an older brother at home but after 7 years here it’s as if he has 20. You made it happen for our kids, you protected them, you listened to them, you helped them through tough moments and most importantly you made an IMPACT!!! Thank you for giving so much of yourself to our kids. We can only hope they impacted you as much as you impacted them.

From the freshman who stole our hearts this summer. You came into camp and dominated with your cuteness. To each and every Junior and Middy, Inter and Collegiate you brought something incredibly special to camp; your sweet generous spirit and your love to play. Regardless if you were outside tossing a ball with a buddy or inside playing jacks, you played and enjoyed a summer of just being a kid. No phones, Netflix shows or fortnight occupied you this summer. You played and talked to one another all summer long and made connections that are real. This is why friendships are so deep here because they are created without distractions and sustained by human contact, not virtual ones.

To our Navajo kids, you spent you summer with more optional nights and later curfews. You are the big kids on campus who along the way took the time to listen more, judge less and show kindness always. Lessons aren’t always easy but you defined that you can’t always change the beginning but you can stay right where you are and change the ending. We are so proud of each and every one of you and thankful you are part of our summer family. GC’s – It’s now your turn on the Hill. We can’t wait to see you shine next summer and have no doubt you will be AMAZING CIT’s!

So now to the back of the room, our CIT’s of 2018. You set the tone this summer with your infectious spirit and insane determination. Even through the ties, lessons were learned and together as a group you  showed this camp what leaders are and how to end with grace, dignity and a whole lotta love. Off you go onto your next stage – as you enter your junior year of high school, don’t ever forget about that summer you spent stargazing, singing Build me up Buttercup, holding hands, giving piggy back rides, breaking the floor and without a doubt leaving your roots here at Camp Chen-A-Wanda.

So here is where Summer ’18 ends, right where it began – We hope you have created incredible memories this summer, made some new friends, believed how truly special each and every one of you are and most importantly had the time of your lives. You all made an impact on us and YOU are the reason why We Wanda!!!

Thank you Chenny. We Love you!!!

Jon & Elissa