To Our Chen-A-Wanda Parents at home that have read our blogs, watched our videos, sifted through thousands and thousands of pictures, loved our Instagram posts and stories and believed in us enough to send your kids to spread their wings with us at Camp Chen-A-Wanda. We can’t thank you enough for sharing your children with us this summer. I have spent the past 49 nights writing to you at home in hopes of giving you a glance and what is happening inside our gates but tonight I wrote this letter and read it to your children for our last evening activity of Summer ’22. They were arm in arm with one another, crying happy tears for the love they feel here and sad tears because summer has come to an end. It has been the most magnificent summer and it is because of your children, the heart and soul to Camp Chen-A-Wanda. Thank you again for believing in us to care for your babies and enjoy them tomorrow when they are back in your arms.
Jon and I decided to write this letter to you all before camp even began. We wrote this as we awaited your arrival. We wanted to jot down our wishes and hopes for the summer that was ahead of us all. So this letter was written before you came.
To Our Camp Chen-A-Wanda family:
It’s June 11th, the night before you, our staff start your journey to camp. We can only imagine how nervous you may be right now and maybe even some of you are contemplating not coming because of all those nerves but we hope you find the strength to get in that car or on that flight and face any fears or doubts you may be feeling right now. We hope you believe in the decision you made to be a camp counselor and we hope you know what is just around the corner for you – an amazing summer and one that you each deserve to experience. We hope you love orientation and hope you make incredible friends this summer. We can’t wait until you meet your kids and fall head over heels for them. We know that these people you don’t yet know will impact your lives in ways you just cant possibly imagine. We hope on our last night, your kids are sitting in your laps or draped all over you but most importantly that they creep into your heart. This will be a hard job and it will require strength you may not even know you have. But we believe in you and we know if you take that leap, you will most definitely fly.
To all our campers who will be here in just a few short weeks. We know the crazy years we have all just experienced and we hope that this summer will feel normal for you. You all deserve normal and we are working so hard to give you a safe place to play and to grow and to feel free. We hope Covid and masks and breaking news will not be a thing for any of us and we want this summer to be exactly what you all need. We hope you know that you will all be accepted and loved for exactly who you are and we hope you make friends and let people into your lives who make you feel special. We hope you love the staff that are coming from all over the globe to be here just for you and we want to give you experiences that will enrich your lives and open your hearts. We hope you try new things this summer and push yourselves outside your comfort zones. We will be there for you when things may be hard and we hope you know that we will be there to help pick you up if you fall and we will be there for you when you need us. We hope you appreciate your life away from your phones and devices and we hope you embrace talking to one another and learning the art of communication with your friends. That is a skill you will need and it’s the reason why your friendships here are so special and long-lasting. We hope you have an amazing summer you leave better and more confident than when you arrived.
Hey Collegiates, Seniors & Supers – We hope you enjoy curfew and all those extra upper camp perks this summer. We hope your optional nights help make you feel like the bigs kids on camp. You have earned those privileges and our hope is that this summer is absolutely amazing for you. We hope there aren’t too many raids and upper camp shenanigans this summer but we sure you hope you love what is in store for you. To our GC’s – this is it, your last and final true camper summer. You have so much too look forward too and we know that the west coast trip will truly make this summer unlike any other you have experienced. & Our hope is that you and the CIT’s bond together on that trip of yours and you all realize that though you are 2 divisions, you really are one family.
To our cool kids in the back of the Hall, our CIT’s . We hope you come to camp with an open heart and a willingness to truly be one bunk & one division. That alone will make all the difference and will set the tone for how amazing your summer can be. We hope you know how much everyone on camp will look up to you this summer and how this summer is your summer to shine. We hope you love every minute, every moment, every second of your CIT summer. The Hill will be yours and we want nothing more than to give you an incredible summer that will change your lives for the better. We hope you love and adore your campers because we know they will love you right back. It’s now your turn to be the hero of summer ’22 and we believe in each and every one of you. We are so excited for you to experience a trip of a lifetime and hope you and the GC’s of course, will love the West Coast. And we hope when Jon and I are standing up on Shields Hall stage as we read this letter aloud to you on our last night, we hope you are arm in arm, holding onto one another feeling sad it’s over but so incredibly happy that it happened.
That is our wish for what lays ahead for us all.
So.. here we are at the end, it’s Friday night, August 12th, it’s our last night and as we look out at this sea of beautiful faces and see how you are holding onto one another, arm in arm, it appears our hopes for what was to be, happened for us all. Our staff made the most wonderful connections with each other and the campers and our campers were the heartbeat that made camp feel alive all summer long. You all made a difference in our lives and we truly hope we made a difference in yours.
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 heart with so much joy. How Camp Chen-A-Wanda changed you 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. So as you head back out to the “real world” share a little Chenny with everyone you meet. Be kind, put down those devices and talk to one another, hold hands with your friends, find time to stargaze, tell those you love how much they mean to you and always be the river.
Thank you Chenny for a summer we will never forget.
We Love You!!
Elissa & Jon