Our EPIC Summer

To Our Chenny Families at home,

What a year and a half we have all had and giving your children a safe summer of fun and freedom was our number one goal. This was no easy fete and it took a partnership between all of us to make it happen. You believed in us and got behind what we needed to do to give your kids the summer they so desperately needed. Well, they did it, you did it, we all did it and we did it for our children. They thrived this summer. They were kids this summer. They didn’t worry this summer. They weren’t stuck inside the house this summer. They felt life was back to normal this summer and it was. The world we created for them up here tucked away in the beautiful mountains on a gorgeous lake set the stage for a summer we will never forget.

Our journey in summer 2021 ends tomorrow but the friendships are lifelong and the memories we all shared will get us through those hard winter nights. It was by far the most challenging and complicated summer we have ever planned but sometimes the hardest things we do are the most rewarding. Watching all of our kids embrace each other and this experience was worth every pain staking moment it took to get us here. Thank you for trusting and believing in us. Your support means the world to us and we are so grateful to have a community that got behind every decision we made and every pivot we had to make in order to get to this moment right now. Tomorrow you get to hug and hold your babies and our hope is that they share all the amazing moments, stories and experiences we have had with them all summer long. They gave us way more than we gave them. I have been writing to you all summer long in my blogs but tonight I wrote the following to your kids.

Forty-Nine days ago, you rolled into camp and buses were replaced with covid tests and masks made it impossible for us to hug one another that first week. We waited for all those test results to come back and that moment we shared at the amphitheater on the fourth of July when Brian Leahy announced we were all negative and told us to take off our masks marked the moment I knew our summer family could get through just about anything. We leaned on one another and believed that we could create an epic summer for you and that is exactly what we did.  We learned that we could all do hard things and the gifts waiting for us would be so worth it and boy were they worth it. We hugged and leaped into each others arms and like magnets were were drawn back to the joy of standing near one another without fear, sitting next to each other without worry and holding hands without thinking we shouldn’t. This pandemic tried to keep us all separate but we all followed the rules and we won. There was no covid in our house and life felt normal here. We spent 49 glorious days feeling the freedom and connection that Chenny brings into our lives. This summer meant more to us than any summer we’ve ever planned. It meant more to us to be able to give you the summer you all deserved and watching you all thrive here meant, we did it right and we did this for you. From Sweet Sixteens to Nancy Tuckers Fake Outs to Chipotle Nights and Krispy Kreme mornings, this summer was unique in every way and you proved that it’s not where you are but who you are with that matters most.

To our Incredible Staff: Signing up to be a camp counselor coming-out of a global pandemic was a unique choice but one that we are so very grateful you made. You shared your heart with us and gave our kids everything you had. You gave all of yourself to this experience and when your tank was on empty you somehow found a way to give more. We hope you leave here tomorrow with more friends than when you came and had experiences throughout this summer that have enriched and positively impacted your lives.  Thank you for giving so much of yourselves to our campers, each other and to this place and we hope that wherever you go, you will forever remember that crazy fun summer spent at Camp Chen-A-Wanda.

To our Amazing Campers: You are the heartbeat of this place and you brought life back to camp. You rolled with all of life’s changes and made the choice to be the river and not the rock. You see, rivers roll with current and get to see and experience the beauty life offers along the way and rocks stay in one place, seeing only what is around them and they miss out on so much that life offers. Thank you all for being the river this summer. You embraced this summer and let new people into your world. You laughed and danced and held hands and played ball with one another. You faced your fear of heights and climbed that tall ladder at trapeze and took a leap of faith. You got through homesickness this summer and you even rocked our one and only virtual visiting day. Moments that seemed impossible, you walked though with grace and dignity. YOU did it and that is how each of us get to be the best versions of ourselves, doing things we thought we couldn’t. 

From our first ever and ONLY Rookies who stole our hearts this summer – You came into camp and dominated with your cuteness. Thank you Rookies for making us smile all summer long. You are rock stars and we will miss you like crazy. To each and every Freshman, Junior, Middy and Inter, 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. 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. Those late night talks you had during flashlight time is why friendships here are so meaningful. We are real here, we are authentic here and we are accepted for exactly who we are here.

To upper camper: you spent your 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. There was an openness you all brought to camp this summer and it showed. We were so proud to see you all embrace new friendships and renew old ones too. Not being together last summer only made our connections grow deeper and made this summer so much more meaningful. Upper camp brought the spirit this summer and watching you was joyful. You gave us hope that life will feel like this again soon.

Collegiates: You left camp two years ago as little kids and came back this summer as full fledged teenagers and we loved watching you enter this stage of your life. Your division was fabulously funny, incredibly spirited and we loved watching you soar this summer. Get ready for the start to your travel experience next summer with 2 amazing trips. Were excited to get that ball rolling for our Supers of summer 22.

Hey Seniors, we can’t wait to welcome you to your GC summer – A trip out west is in your future and we are so happy to get that going for such a great group of kids.  You brought the fun this summer and if you weren’t on a court or field you were just loving hanging with your friends. It made us all happy to see those bonds between you continue to grow.

Hey Supers.. or let’s call you the CIT’s of 2022. It’s now your turn on the Hill. We cannot wait to see you shine next summer and have no doubt you will officially and brilliantly bring back CIT’s to Camp Chen-A-Wanda!! You bonded together as one division on your camping trip and just think what lays ahead as you head out West for you trip next summer. A trip out West for both Divisions will be happening for our oldest kids on camp next summer. We are so excited to get busy and start planning 2 incredible trips for you, our GC’s and CIT’s of summer 2022.

Now to the cool kids in the back of the room, our GC’s of 2021. You set the tone this summer with your infectious spirit, undeniable positivity and determination to make every moment count. You came back to camp with the most positive outlook, the biggest open heart and you spent your summer being inclusive and just plain AWESOME!! You were a true division in every sense of that word. You grew together and the bonds you share are evident to everyone around you. The littlest kids looked up to you and you showed them what this place can bring into your life, friends for a lifetime and memories that make you smile. You left your mark at camp and we are grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for making this summer truly EPIC.

So, here we are at the end of this road.. A summer that has meant more to us than any other summer in our history.  No matter where you go or where you are, we hope you think of this place and your time here and we hope it brings you joy.. We ask each and every one of you sitting here in front of us to remember, on those cold winter nights how this place made you feel and how it filled your life with amazing new friends that care about you as much as you care for them. It’s our hope that Camp Chen-A-Wanda impacted your life for the better and how we all created a world of kindness and compassion that will last far beyond the 7 weeks we just spent here together. So as you head back out to the “real world” no matter what that looks like, share a little Chenny with everyone you meet. Dance on tables, sing out loud, hold hands, play jacks, get a card game going with some friends, tell the people who you love how much they mean to you and don’t sweat the small stuff. Thank you all for taking this journey with us. You gave us hope and inspiration that life can and will feel normal again and for that we are forever grateful. Thank you Chenny, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!