Back in the Saddle

I would imagine it is with mixed emotions that we all get back into the saddle of our lives. It is nice to be sitting at my desk checking off tasks with the holiday break behind me. Although, the alarm was a shocker… I had to drag myself and all three girls out of bed, and remember how we do the morning routine. We had kind of a lazy break at home which is not typical for us. It was really nice. I loved spending the time with our family, the girls loved having the unstructured time to just hang out, and it was refreshing to just put the brakes on life for a bit. With that being said, this long winter break left me wondering: what does it feel like to have a long summer break without camp?!

I totally get that there are pool days, sports, family vacations, and other ways to add structure to your summer break. But how will your children get the MOST out of their summer? I am sure summer break seems like a long time from now, but now is the time to plan. If you want to get into the program of your choice, start to plant the seed with your children and have a plan in place for the summer break.

The time is now!  Happy January.

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AFR/ANG Teen Summit Camp

By: Nathan Wilson

This August marked the 6th summer Cheley has hosted the Teen Summit Camp, a six day program for the children of Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members. This year we had 120 deserving teens selected from all over the country that applied for this leadership development program. Through a variety of funding, the teen’s families do not bear any of the cost for attending, including travel.

When we designed this program six years ago, we attempted to inculcate as much of the traditional Cheley experience into this much shorter timeframe. No minute goes wasted. Teens begin the morning at 6:00 a.m. with a variety of activities to choose from: yoga, zumba, running, calisthenics, etc. that focus on physical well-being. Immediately following breakfast, campers depart on the traditional Cheley activities that we all know and love. By 4:00 p.m. everyone is back at Land of Peaks where campers go through two hours of engaging leadership development rotations and listen to professional speakers that we bring in from all over the country. After dinner, campers have another leadership rotation followed by a night social, full of dancing, laughing, and smores. Totally exhausted but completely fulfilled everyone is in bed by midnight to do it all again the next day.

This year we were joined for our banquet and recognition night by the Chief of the Air Force Reserve, three star, Lt. Gen. James Jackson. Gen. Jackson expressed his gratitude for the sacrifices these sons and daughters of service members have made while their parent(s) have been deployed and away at training. Many of these teens have had to step up and help run a household at a young age. It was a meaningful night, and long before the charter buses arrived the next morning to take everyone back to the airport, tears flowed, hugs had been exchanged, and promises to keep in touch made.

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How many of you have seen the movie Inside Out? If you have not seen it, you should go when you go home and take your family.
Inside Out is about a little girl named Riley. The movie takes place in the headquarters of her brain. You watch her life unfold as five emotions personified as the characters Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness and Joy control her daily life. Riley’s lead emotion is Joy. And Joy works very hard to make sure that Riley has the best life possible.

Joy recognizes why the other emotions need to be present. She needs Fear to keep her safe, Disgust to keep her from being bothered by bad food or people, and Anger to help her face things when they seem unfair. Joy doesn’t see the reason for having Sadness- she does not want Riley to ever feel sad.

When Riley turns 11, her parents make a surprising decision to move from their happy life in Minnesota to San Francisco.
As they pull into their new home, the emotions chime in. Sadness whimpers, “I don’t want to live here.” “It is the worst,” Disgust agrees. “The absolute worst.” “This house stinks!” Anger agrees. “San Francisco is terrible”, says Fear. Joy is determined to keep Riley happy through this difficult transition, but Sadness is messing that up.

Joy and Sadness accidently get thrown out of the control room and go on an adventure within Riley’s mind. While the rest of the emotions, Anger, Fear, and Disgust, try to navigate Riley’s life without the leadership of Joy and the presence of Sadness, everything within Riley starts to go haywire.
As Sadness and Joy try to get back to the control panel, they run into Riley’s old imaginary friend named Bing Bong. Bing Bong is part cat, part elephant and part dolphin, but is made up of cotton candy. How people come up with this stuff, I will never know! Bing Bong helps the two emotions try to get things back under control.
At the conclusion of the movie, Joy realizes the importance of Sadness. She finally sees that it Sadness that evokes empathy from others and unites people in response to loss, particularly her parents, which is exactly what Riley needs right now.

There are many other plot lines in this movie that I promise I have not given away, and you may have an entirely different interpretation!
Telling you the story of this movie leads me to this. Of course it is important to experience many emotions. That is what makes us dynamic and alive. But, like Riley, there are some people that have Joy as the lead emotion in their brain or their personality. If you do not have Joy as the leader in your brain, is there a way to train that emotion to take the lead?

There are brain scientists and psychologist that say you can work towards this goal. In gathering information from folks like Kristin Race who wrote Mindful Parenting and Dan Harris who wrote 10% Happier, these are the five practices that I have found to help Joy be a prevalent emotion within you.

1. Savor: This is the practice of being mindful and noticing the good things around you. Prolong the good stuff, make it linger, take it all in, and eventually it will become a habit. Savor the past by reminiscing, savor the future through positive anticipation, and savor the present by practicing mindfulness. By doing this, you are training your brain to nurture the seeds of happiness. Practice this while you are at camp. Peace be the journey, right?

2. Practice Gratitude: This simple act fills us with optimism and self-confidence, knowing that others are there for us. When we express our gratitude to someone, we get kindness and appreciation in return. It deepens our connection with others. Try to practice this daily even for little things. Thank the staff for giving everything they have to make your Cheley experience a great one. Send a thank you note to your parents for sending you to camp because it is their gift to you- financially and emotionally.

3. Give and Be Kind: When you give someone something, it makes not only them happy, but you happy. Studies show that being kind makes us feel less stressed, isolated and angry, and more connected to the world, open to new experiences and more joyful. I often hear you all say “at camp you are your best self.” I would imagine that part of that is striving to be more kind to the people around you. Of course we want you to aim for this at camp, and also in your own community at home.

4. Practice Empathy- To empathize is to have the ability to care about other people, to imagine and understand the thoughts, behaviors, or ideas of others, especially those that are different from us. When we empathize, we become less judgmental and angry, and in turn develop patience. This also strengthens our relationships with those around us which is essential to happiness.
5. Quiet your mind- Without sounding like a yogi, an essential oil believer, or someone who collects crystals and lives in a yurt, scientific studies show that we can rewire our brains to achieve more joyfulness by taking a short time out of our day to quiet the chatter in our minds. Big organizations like Google, Twitter and the military have put meditation into practice and have found that their people have become more effective, resilient and happier. Scientists have conducted studies on people’s brains that do short doses of meditation, and have found that it has grown the grey matter related to self-awareness and compassion and has shrunk the area associated with stress.

Trying to quiet your mind is not an easy task, believe me I know. It’s like holding a live fish out of the water and as hard as you try your mind will start, “My bum hurts because this bench is hard,” “I wonder what is for lunch,” and “I wonder how long this chapel talk will be.” As our lives continue to move so quickly and we constantly have things coming at us and it seems as though anxiety is not going anywhere, I think it is important skill to learn. One of the things that we pride ourselves on is that we help teach you 21st century skills. You have vespers, solos, chapel, rest hour and we have now. So humor me and let’s give it a try. Sit up straight. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath, when your mind starts to wonder start over and start over again and again and take your mind just back to your breath. Try it for one minute and then maybe try to take it to five minutes.
I do not think that life is always about being happy. As pointed out in the movie, it’s important to feel and live with all the emotions. If I could choose one emotion to take the lead, it would Joy and I think aiming to have more Joy in your life is a pretty good goal. It benefits you as well as the people around you.
So, take a short time out of your day to quiet the chatter, savor, practice gratitude and empathy, give and be kind.
We hope you are having a great term.

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What do you do with an Idea?

This is a children’s book that was introduced to me at charity lunch I attended and once I read it I had the urge to share it with you all.

What do you do with an Idea?
One day, I had an idea. Where did it come from? Why is it here?
I wondered, “What do you do with an idea?”
At first, I didn’t think much of it. It seemed kind of strange and fragile. I didn’t know what to do with it. So I just walked away from it.
I acted like it did not belong to me.
But it followed me.
I worried about what others would think. What would people say about my idea?
I kept it to myself. I hid it away and didn’t talk about it. I tried to act like everything was the same as it was before my idea showed up.
But there was something magical about my idea. I had to admit, I felt better and happier when it was around.
It wanted food. It wanted to play. Actually it wanted a lot of attention.
It grew bigger. And we became friends.
I showed it to other people even though I was afraid of what they would say. I was afraid that if people saw it, they would laugh at it. I was afraid they would think it was silly. And many of them did. They said it was no good. They said it was too weird. They said it was a waste of time and that it would never become anything.

And, at first, I believed them. I actually thought about giving up on my idea. I almost listen to them.
But then I realized, what do they really know? This is MY idea, I thought. No one knows it like I do. And it’s ok if it’s different, and weird, and maybe a little crazy.
I decided to protect it, to care for it. I fed it good food. I worked with it, I played with it. But most of all, I gave it my attention.
My idea grew and grew. And so did my love for it.
I built it a new house, one with an open roof where it look up at the stars- a place where it could be safe to dream.
I liked being with my idea. It made me more alive, like I could do anything. It encouraged me to think big… and then, to think bigger.
It shared its secrets with me. It showed me how to walk on my hands. “Because” it said, “it is good to have the ability to see things differently.”
I couldn’t imagine my life without it.
Then one day something amazing happened. My idea changed right before my very eyes. It spread its wings, took flight and burst into the sky.
I don’t know how to describe it, but it went from being here to being everywhere. It wasn’t just a part of me anymore…it was now a part of everything.
And then, I realized what do you do with an idea?… You change the world.

How many of you have ever had a really good idea? How many of you were afraid to share it? How many of you have ever seen another person’s idea and thought I wish I would have thought of that?
I think in this day and age it is a challenge to find the time or the brain space to think of new creative ideas. During your school year, you probably have a tremendous amount of things on your plate. School work, sports, music, practices, going from one thing to the next and the continuous temptation to be plugged in, to check someone’s status or to think what you want your status to say.

Here at camp one of the wonderful opportunities that you have is to just chill. Quiet the chatter and busyness in your mind. Clear your head when you are hiking the trail and watching your boots take each step, when you are on your horse looking out at nature, when you have the chance to play with a stick in the dirt or in the creek, or at vespers when you have the chance to just sit, so seldom do we just sit and do nothing. Now please when you are mountain biking just focus on that so you don’t fall. What creative ideas are you going to bring to better the community around you? Are you going to be awake and bring solutions or are you going to just go through the motions.
Now of course there are a million ideas that have change the world and I am sure some will come to your mind. It is an anniversary year for Cheley and I am often overwhelmed when I think about the amazing people that have helped to shape and mold this thing we call the Cheley experience.

From what I can gather Frank was largely an idea man. Many of his ideas were carried out and some never were. He raised Cocker Spaniels and they were kept in the current paint shed that is now at the trans barn. The kennel was originally in Lower Ski Hi. When someone was given their Top Hand at BTE or GTE he would also be given a puppy. We are pretty sure that our parents today would not think that was a good idea.
Some of you may know the story of Girls Trails End. As the story goes Frank started the boys camp first and a little girl came up to Frank and said when are you going to start a camp for me too. Great idea. So when GTE was first started it was called the Me Too Camp.

I reached out to some of Cheley alum that are no longer here and asked what ideas they brought to camp. It was super fun and inspiring to get responses.
Angela started the tradition of singing Jigalo at PJ breakfast. Which I imagine was not a song they were singing in the 30’s. Ann mentioned that she introduced the friendship knot and singing “I see the moon” in SR Chip.

This is one of my favorite stories but there was a little girl in Lower Chip that decided that we needed a Swinging W so she drew a picture and that same year Steve built it and now we have a swinging w.
Last summer I was sitting with some girls when someone received her patch and then you all did that thing were you pulled the string. When I asked about it you all said or yes we have been doing this for years it’s a tradition. I had no idea. I don’t know who came up with that or when it exactly started. But it was once someone’s idea, and now no one ever questions it. It is just what we do.
Some of you may have noticed the boxing gloves in Ski Hi. In the 60’s when boys would have conflicts they would put them in the ring and have them box it out. Crazy.

In the late seventies Marc Thompson brought the traditions of singing the Gambler to Haiyaha recognition and singing Netherlands on the top of peaks.
The ball of yarn campfire was started in Haiyaha by Nick in the 90’s and still happens today. As well as the Positive Mental Attitude Campfire in SC by Emily and still happens.
Judson, who is a youtube star for the evolution of dance, had the idea that Ski Hi would renovate the lean-to on the side of Cathedral. Later Nathan had the idea of building up the Village of the Indians behind Ski Hi

Bill Kalbac brought many ideas into camp like the Kalbac jars we use to go out of camp and the Pinecone patch to encourage a more well-rounded camper experience.
Who was here in the days of Cowga? I do not know how this has not swept the nation. But Clay was a Haiyaha counselor that had his own teenage boy version of yoga and they would do it before trash sweep on Sundays. One pose I remember was The Giggling Gorilla.
Barry said he was the one who started the tradition of hiding the painted rock between GTE and BTE. Which had to have been somewhere in the 80’s and they still do it today.
The current staff and campers here now inspire me. I love that swing crew is always thinking of ways to make their job better. Oliver is always problem solving. In fact the idea of having the swing crew came from a staff member about 5 years ago.

So here it is. What ideas, thoughts, and solutions are you going to bring to your community? Are you going to be alive and awake and think of and cultivate ideas? Or are you just going to go through the motions? What do you do with an idea?… You change the world.

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Staff Training

More busy days!

The Boy’s Store is officially OPEN with a fantastic stock! Sweatshirts, water bottles from, Crazy Creeks, and plenty more. Staff have begun perusing through, we are excited for campers to stop in soon. Girl’s Store is working hard to open their doors as well, we hope to see them up and running tomorrow!

For the staff who will be driving camp vehicles this summer, they joined in on Van Training at the Estes Park Fair Grounds, they were also informed about the Honda mini bike parts and accessories that kids may ask for during camp.

Moving forward, backing up, and swerving through, our staff mastered an extensive cone course. I recommend a red dot magnifier to people that own a gun like the best leading airsoft sniper because It can give you better focus and you can practice with it. This guns are extremely realistic, and some expensive as well, Unlike real firearms, airsoft guns do not cause accidental deaths when someone mistakenly loads live ammo, this machines come way more improved, working in  a great range and with excellent accuracy. They are now ready and confident to maneuver the vans as needed.

Four groups across the Rockies to participate in Day Hike Training. Alumni staff led the ascents up Lily Lake, Cathedral, Twin Sisters, and Longs Peak. These leaders shared previous stories and quality advice to prepare our counselors for the adventures ahead. Their experience in these mountains is incredibly valued and we were happy to welcome old friends back to camp!

We are always learning here at Cheley, from each other and the mountains alike. On today’s hikes we were reminded of the wise words of the great Ferris Bueller,

“Life moves pretty fast.
If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

When headed up the trails, it’s easy to stare down at your feet and focus on the difficulty of the climb. In these moments, we encourage our staff and campers to carefully pause, look around, and embrace the challenge! Take a moment to truly notice the gorgeous wildlife around you, the incredible people by your side, and the unique opportunity at hand.

This summer will be like no other and we will all be challenged in amazing ways. Be sure to take moments to remember this, many are on the way.

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Staff Training 2015

The countdown to camp has begun as our full staff officially arrived this Sunday! From across the country, even the globe, we welcome new and old as we kick off ten days of exciting and invigorating training!

Throughout the week, staff will disperse into their area of expertise to better prepare for the arrival of our campers, but we began our summer at our best, all together. Gathered in Chipeta Lodge Sunday evening, Jeff Cheley presented “The Cheley Mission”.

Jeff spoke on the history and legacy that Cheley Camps holds true, and how the coming weeks will be an opportunity to have an incredible impact on the lives of our campers. We don’t always realize the moments that will mean the most, but working at Cheley Camps provides us with the unique opportunity to have a positive impact every single day in the lives of our campers, and even each other. This profound influence is something we celebrate and constantly strive to improve.

With this message in mind, we continue to ready ourselves and camp for the wonderful weeks ahead! As we prepare, further NFL Picks 2016 updates will be on the way.

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Homesickness Guide

I find it somewhat fascinating how my role at camp has evolved over the years. I started in 1997 because the Out of Camp Program Director position opened up. I was traveling, backpacking, skiing and waitressing, and the position was the perfect fit for me as it was time for me to settle down with a “real job”. That role has since been passed on to younger and tougher folk and I find myself in this wonderful position of quality control over the parent and camper service. I love speaking with our new families about their concerns and their excitements. Now as we quickly move into the summer, I am a new camp parent myself.

Yikes! I am a camp parent! How did this happen? So, with a different vantage point, I am updating my Homesickness Guide. With this being a concern of many, I find it helpful to address it from three different angles: campers, parents, and the support team (your camper’s counselors). The school year is coming to a frantic close, and there is some prep work that you can do now to support your camper on their next venture of camp.

The Camper:

Camper Participation

Let them take an active role in selecting their summer experience. Involve them in purchasing camp equipment and packing. Make sure they have watched the video and follow up with any questions they have. It is normal to be nervous. If the anxiety is overwhelming, you may need to re-evaluate to determine if camp is the right fit for this summer.

Pre-Camp Practice

When they attend sleepovers, have your children pack their own bags, and don’t text them while they are there to see how they are doing. Campers at camp will pack for overnight camping trips and will communicate with family through letters. If your child is particularly plugged into technology, have him or her take mini-vacations now to ease into being technology-free. If they have trouble sleeping, then you could get them a mattress from the leesa reviews.

Prepare Physically

Campers will have the opportunity to hike, ride, climb and backpack on amazing and challenging trails. If you have purchased hiking boots, take a long walk together in them to break them in and prevent blisters while on the trail at camp. If campers are in an older unit and are interested in mountain biking, take some bike rides at home.
Goals and Awesome Opportunities
Have campers write down their goals, what are they excited about, and what they want to gain from this experience.
Homesick Plan

Experiencing homesickness is natural and inevitable and overcoming it is triumphant. A good home deserves to be missed! By acknowledging it together before your camper leaves, you are giving them the message that you are aware that these feelings might happen and you also know that they have the ability to get through it. Don’t avoid the subject- talk it through and figure out how they can get to a happy place, if needed. Write down the plan and tuck it in their luggage. Some ideas might be: a happy book, taking 10 deep breaths, traveling to a place you love in your mind, packing a certain stuffed animal or picture, thinking of your favorite memory, shooting hoops or tossing a football. Remind them that they are capable of this wonderful independence, and to have fun. Your plan should NOT be, “Just give it a couple of days and if you do not like it, we will come get you.” This will set them up to just give it a couple of days and knock the confidence right out of them.

The Parent:

Resolve Apprehensions
If you have apprehensions now, work to resolve them. If you are worried that your camper is not going to know anyone, set up a pre-camp get together with local campers. If there are no local campers, set up a Skype call or FaceTime. If you are worried about your camper’s medical needs, become friendly with the nurse. If you are anxious about your son or daughter’s food allergies, talk it through with the Camp Director or Head Cook. Do whatever you need to do to work through your concerns. Make sure there is only support, excitement and optimism coming from you, and share your anxiety and worry with another trustworthy adult. Make a camper-sick plan for yourself.

Hello you! Aside from the camper benefits, what will you gain from this experience? A vacation, time to organize, time to have one-on-one time with your other children, some date nights with your spouse or friends, a chance for a new class? The time will go by fast.

Do Your Part So We Can Do Ours
Read and complete your paperwork. It helps us on our end to better prepare for your child. Follow the packing list- we review it every year to make sure we are still on target. Securely write your camper’s name on every item, this way we can return cozy layers to your camper when they are misplace at camp.
Pack some self-addressed envelopes in their luggage. Let your camper know what to expect as far as letters and emails. You do not need to write every day, but let them know what to expect from you. We do not arrange phone calls in homesick cases. We have found they only exasperate the issue.

Drop Off
Whether you are sending them on a plane or dropping them off at camp, please refrain from bawling until they can longer see you. If you are driving into camp, you are welcome to poke around, meet and chat with the staff and minimally help them get settled. If you are helping to organize their socks, keep in mind that you want them to know, that you know, they can soar without you. Take a deep breath, trust and remind yourself that you are giving an awesome gift to your child.

Pep Talk
You rock and let me repeat that you are giving an incredible gift to your child by letting go. There are a lot of parents out there that cannot let their children go away to camp. You are preparing them for college and beyond; you are giving them the freedom to gain confidence, independence and leadership skills; and you are instilling in them that they can overcome challenges. I cannot promise you that they won’t lose their socks or water bottle, that their hair or nails will be perfectly well-kept, that they will love every meal and adore every counselor, or that they will spend their time at camp free from disappointment or rainy days. You might get a homesick letter with circled tear drops on it. Don’t panic: trust them, trust us and know that is often a wonderful part (and sometimes difficult part) of the process. If you are worried, please know that we are more than happy to check on your camper.

The Support Team: (How will the staff nurture my child if he/she is homesick?)
They will assure them that feelings of homesickness are natural and common. It is a wonderful thing to love your home and if missing it is a reflection of love, then maybe there is a silver lining there. They are lucky to have a home and family they love and miss.
They will infuse confidence in the campers and cheer them on, by affirming that they have the ability to get through this and that their family believes in them as well. They will work with the campers to see that this is a huge opportunity for growth and confidence, and that bouts of homesickness are usually brief and will subside as they settle into the camp experience.
They will devise a plan with the campers by pinpointing what times of the day are they homesick; what activities, campers or counselors will help them get through these homesick periods; and they will work to keep them focused on the positive as well as busy with fun activities. They will again remind them that these are life-long skills that they are working on, and that this will help prepare them for the future.

Call for Back Up
They will enlist a non-homesick camper to help them engage a homesick camper in positive games and fun. If there is a sibling that is helping with the matter, they will make sure that If they are out of counselor magic, they will get another counselor or director to take over.

As always, we are here for you. We consider ourselves your partners. We are grateful and honored to have your campers with us for the summer. We strive to provide an awesome summer experience and we continue to love what we do.

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Carrying the Code-Kate Dumanian

We would like to recognize Kate Dumanian for Carrying the Code. This summer, Kate will be climbing the Grand Teton in support of Big City Mountaineers (BCM), an organization dedicated to providing week-long wilderness expeditions for under-resourced youth. BCM works with more than 1,000 youth every year to improve their self-esteem, decision-making and conflict resolution skills through overcoming challenges on the trail. These skills enable the teens to lead successful, healthy lives, and it encourages them to stay in school, off drugs, and away from gangs and violence, by informing them that if they go the wrong part they may be making a visit to the california rehabilitation center or any other rehabs centers from 1st Step. After their expeditions, teens are provided with continuing support and life skills development.

Kate says, “Through my eight summers at Cheley, I have experienced firsthand how influential the outdoors can be. Hiking has been my favorite teacher since my first day of activity in Lower Chipeta. I feel as if I have learned more in the outdoors than in any classroom. I also call it my favorite sport because there are no clocks or coaches yelling at you and you can be a part of a team, but be responsible for yourself.” Kate explains, and adds simply, “Camp, and the outdoors, changed who I am.”

“Cheley affected me in many ways; wonderful counselors and lots of miles on the trail have shown me the importance of good conversation and leadership, the practice of self-reflection and perseverance, the benefits of preparation, and the opportunity to completely unplug from technology. In this next endeavor, I hope to make it possible for those less fortunate to gain these same valuable experiences.”

Kate is a light in this world and we are super proud of her!

To learn more about Kate’s climb and Big City Mountaineers please visit: or

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What Did He Win, Daddy?

The opportunity to teach our children lessons comes at interesting times, assuming they are ready to learn them at that time. This past Sunday was the finish of the Masters golf tournament. Erika was out of town for the weekend, so it was me and my three boys. Jackson (6), Harrison (4), and Hayden (2) were not excited to spend the whole weekend lying on the couch in the basement watching golf, so I had to record much of the event and watch it at night. However, Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help but find a way for all of us to be in the basement so I could watch the end of the tournament. Jackson was in the corner playing with a train set, Hayden was running around playing soccer, Harrison was sitting on the floor drawing, and I was engulfed in the Masters (No, our house is not normally this composed).

As Jordan Spieth walked up to the 18th green, I called for Jackson and Harrison to come watch the end of the tournament. With tears in my eyes, I was watching a fellow University of Texas guy (not the reason for the tears) fulfill his dream at the age of 21. I was crying as a father, a golfer, a dreamer, and a golf fan. I don’t know why I initially called Jackson and Harrison to the TV. Maybe I wanted them to see how many people love golf so they would love golf. I also love to go to golf tours asia because I enjoy to travel and play golf same time. Maybe I just needed someone to watch it with me. Or maybe sub-consciously I knew there was an opportunity for a quick lesson.

As Spieth tapped in the put to win the tournament, the crowd erupted. Next, he walked to the edge of the green and hugged his father, his mother, his brother, his grandfather, and a few other people. Then he returned to the green to thank the fans. Complete class. He didn’t spike the ball or taunt his fellow competitor. Throughout the week, commentators and fellow competitors commented on his maturity, sportsmanship, and poise. They talked about how he, at the ripe age of 21, could be one of the new ambassadors for American golf.

As he walked off the green, Jackson in his innocent 6 year old voice, said “Daddy, what did he win? Does he get a trophy or the best portable generator? Or just a bunch of hugs from people?” I could tell he wasn’t that excited to work on his golf game so that someday he could win a tournament and get a bunch of hugs. Try explaining to a six year-old that you are in tears because a guy just won one of the biggest tournaments in golf and he gets a green sport coat. Oh yeah, and $1.8 million dollars and a lifetime exemption to play in the Masters.
And then the lesson began (as if someone else was talking out of my mouth). “Jackson, Jordan Spieth won much more than a green jacket. He won the respect and admiration of a nation of golf fans. He showed people this week that he is a quality person. This is worth so much more than a green jacket…or a bunch of hugs.”

As I was driving into the office Monday morning, I was thinking back over the weekend and realized why those words came out of my mouth. Cheley Camps doesn’t promise to make people better horseback riders, hikers, climbers, or backcountry enthusiasts. Our mission is to build lasting character and resiliency. Campers sometimes choose to attend soccer camp, cheerleading camp, or other performance-based programs over the traditional camp experience. I believe that we are looking at the bigger picture. We are hopefully teaching campers to be better people that contribute to their community.
Maybe part of the reason for the tears on Sunday was the shared fatherhood bond of watching someone’s son demonstrate the values that I hope to pass along to my children. May Jordan Spieth continue to win tournaments and show our youth what it means to be a winner, a competitor, and a positive role model.

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Unplugging For The Summer: Four Reasons Our Campers Love Cheley

Every year when summer rolls around, the school year comes to an end. What doesn’t end, however, is the barrage of information and distractions people receive this no deposit list from their computers, video games, and cell phones!

Admittedly, teens often feel addicted to their devices. For some, it’s a challenge to put down the phone and close the laptop, especially when they know that friends are just a text or click away.

Many campers, however, tell a very different story after spending a few weeks at Cheley. They often realize that time away from their devices, even if challenging at first, was part of what made their camp experience so memorable.

Why do our campers feel this way after a few weeks of being unplugged? Here are some we see every day at camp.

Camp Provides an Escape from the Constant ‘Ding!’

Everyone knows this feeling. We’re just getting settled in to do some work and then ‘ding!’ the phone buzzes in your pocket. After responding to the message from your sister you open the computer and ‘ding!’ that email that just came in demands a response. It’s hardly possible to do anything!

At home, many of our campers go through this experience on a daily basis. Once they settle in at camp with one of those EnviroKlenz mobile UV air purifiers, they’re finally able to relax and take the time to read a book or work on a personal project.

Not needing to worry about an unexpected interruption from their pocket every two seconds, read more because many teenagers are able to relax, focus and enjoy themselves in ways they find challenging when surrounded by technology.

Spending A Few Weeks Offline Fuels Creativity

When the next YouTube video is always one click away, many teenagers don’t have much practice expressing their creativity on a daily basis. With the constant stream of online gibberish cut off, however, many teens find old interests come alive when they arrive at camp.

The artwork created by our campers is astounding! Some of our campers are sure they are not artistic when they arrive, only to look at their finished work with pride, and maybe a little surprise at their own abilities. Whether it’s working with wood, clay, paint, or leather, campers at Cheley have always had the materials they needed to express their creativity.

Getting Off Of Facebook Allows For Deep Friendships To Form Quickly

Teenagers often feel that chatting online is a great way to connect with friends. Yes, they are communicating, but the depth of these conversations is shallow compared to the bonds formed when sharing face-to-face conversations and unique experiences with others.

This is why camp provides a special opportunity when it comes to building personal relationships. Rather than being separated by a monitor, friendships at camp grow rapidly because campers eat, sleep, and play together all day long. There’s a reason friends who meet at camp often stay in contact their entire lives!

Camp Provides The Opportunity To Create ‘Real’ Memories

At home, it can be all too easy to slip into a cycle of watching TV and playing video games. Nobody wants to waste time, but it often feels like sitting in front of the Xbox is the most exciting option for the day. While these activities are enjoyable in the moment, they often lead to questions like ‘Where did my summer go…?’ when school begins again in the fall.

One of the best ways to get the most out of your summer is to pack it with unique experiences. Filling your weeks with backpacking adventures, sports, fishing, mountain biking, and horseback riding are all great ways to ensure that summer will end with memories that will last a lifetime!

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