The Dreamers, the Doers and those in between

In 1883, an engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a bridge connecting New York to Long Island. But bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before. Thank you for the vision and for the new tip on junk removal .

Roebling could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else. After much discussion and persuasion he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built.

Working together for the first time, the father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. They hired their crew, got on a loan installments plan and began to build their dream bridge. The project started out well, but when it was only a few months underway a tragic accident on site took the life of John Roebling.  Washington survived but was severely injured and was left unable to walk or talk or even move.  But his mind was still sharp as ever and he still had a burning desire to complete the bridge.  As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, staring at the tops of the trees and the sky, there seemed to be a message for him to not give up. And then it hit him.  He could still move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife, Emily.  He touched Emily’s arm with that finger, indicating to her that he wanted her to call the engineers again. Then he used the same method of tapping her arm to tell the engineers what to do. It seemed foolish but the project was under way again.

For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on Emily’s arm until the bridge was finally completed.  Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands as a tribute to one man’s spirit and determination, to the engineers and their hard work and to a woman’s patience and devotion.

Much like the Roebling’s, Frank Cheley was a dreamer and he did not accomplish his dream alone. In 1926 when Frank Cheley moved the Bear Lake Trail School from the shores of Bear Lake to here, he was on a mission.   Frank bought the current property and he took his family and some camp friends on a picnic.  As they ate their lunch on the new land he pointed out and envisioned where everything was going to go.  He had the passion and the enthusiasm but had no logical sense of how he was going to pay for it. At that time his publisher, Lansing Smith, loaned him the money and in a short amount of time he had some of the main buildings built.  People in town thought what is this guy doing.  They couldn’t believe how large the buildings were and they thought where is he going to find campers to come to his camp?  He was so proud of the beautiful building that had been built that he decided to invite Lansing Smith to see camp.  The story goes that Lansing walked into the Ski Hi Dining Room and saw 8 people sitting in a room designed for 240.  He stood there and shook his head and said “I certainly got mixed up with a crazy man on this venture.”

The Great Depression hit shortly after in 1932 and Frank pressed on with his dream.  During those years he had more staff then campers and he told them they were welcome to work for a place to stay and food but that he could not pay them.  Frank wrote a letter to Lansing, I cannot pay you back the loan for camp.  Please let me know how to proceed and I will sign over the camp papers to you.  Lansing responded, “My dear Frank, keep your shirt on.  I don’t know anything about running a camp.”

In 1941 Frank died when he was only 52 and in his short life he had accomplished so much.  He built most of the building at Land of Peaks, plus BTE and GTE.  In addition he wrote 42 books on youth development, and was instrumental in the development of the American Camp Association and Camp Eberhard in Indiana.  We often wonder if he ever slept.  Or perhaps it is because he did not have the distraction of the world wide web and facebook.  And again he did not do it alone.

Thank you Frank for accomplishing your dreams. And for establishing a strong vision and mission for us to stand on today.

As we move into the 4th generation and hopefully many more generations to come.  Again, we are not accomplishing this alone.  We have some very talented people on our staff. I would like to recognize our spouses, Kurt and Erika, for being devoted supporters, for putting their own needs aside during the summer to support the fulfillment of Frank’s dream, for understanding that there is an inherent need for Jeff and I to forge on and for putting their heart and soul into raising the 5th generation.  I would like to recognize you all for being here. For filling the hillside with laughter, for giving it your best shot, for sometimes falling and for getting back up.  You are living Frank Cheley’s dream.

Your friends at home are improving their scores and skills on video games, organized sports, splashing around in the pool or catching up on their Tivo list. To you, this month is an awesome building block in your life.  It is a place for you to practice the I can instead of the I can’t.

You might have thought to yourself, I miss my mama too much, I can’t do this and I am going to die if my family does not drive up that road right now and pick me up, or this horse is big and scary and I have no idea what he is going to do next or what he is capable of, or I can’t breath up this mountain where is a taxi or I am not quite sure if I like this person that sleeps next to me, maybe if I sleep in the opposite direction it will make me feel better.

But you are conquering it all as we speak and you will come out a better person for it. As you have settled in you have realized that you can function out from under the wings of your parents, that you can manage that horse, that not only can you breath up the mountain but that you can get to some amazing places on your own 2 feet and that you can learn to live in a community with all different kinds of people.  This month is a building block in the development of you.

What are you going to dream of? What are you going to make possible?  You are the future.  Whether you are that crazy dreamer, the intelligent mastermind, the dedicated supporter, or the hard worker, you are the future.  So I hope by the end of the term the “I can” thoughts in your head will last you through the year.  And maybe someday you will come back to visit and you will tell us the amazing things you have done with your life. Again, thanks for being here.

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