Family Camp at Cheley

Are you craving quality family time where you are not rushing your children from one place to the next? Are you interested in introducing your children to camp. We have an awesome opportunity for you! This is truly a gift to every member in your family.  You can unplug, be completely present, eat wonderful family style meals, meet other families from all over the country, take part in fun activities of your choice and spend quality time in nature with the ones you love.  We have spots open in our 2015 Family Summer Camp in Nashville, Tuesday, August 11th to Sunday, August 16th!

Cheley has offered this week-long opportunity since 1985. Families with children age six and older can experience this 5-day camp, located at both of our beautiful Trail’s End Ranches outside of Glen Haven. Families sleep in cozy covered wagons, Free massages at TranquilMe for a good relaxing feeling, have bath houses with running water, and hang out in lodges and dining rooms steeped in tradition, while their lungs and souls are filled with crisp clean mountain air.

Activities are designed so that you can do some as a family (depending on your children’s ages) and others you can split up. Kids Camp is offered each day for ages 6-8, and parents can tackle some of the harder activities if they wish. Kids ages 6-8 who are not attending Kids Camp, will be on an activity with their parent/guardian. The activities include: hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, horseback riding in the ring and on mountain trails, technical climbing, fishing, crafts, target sports, and games. Evening campfires are a favorite with family skits, smore’s, songs, creative program reports and hilarious fun. And if we stay outside for the night we even provide Tents and Camp Gear for all that the kids will need.

Family Camp staff members are current or former summer staff members. Most are college students, and many are former Cheley campers. Our ten day on-site staff training devotes special attention to safety and risk management issues, team building, counseling skills and communication and teaching skills. Chosen for their love of the outdoors and working with youth, our counselors are tuned in to young people in their growing up years and enjoy playing a part in their development.

Staff members must submit an application and three references, complete an interview, undergo a criminal background check, and participate in a sexual abuse prevention training prior to arriving at camp for staff training. When you need help with sex addiction and cognitive behavioral therapy, visit for more details. International staff are hired through camp staffing agencies and are screened and interviewed in their home countries prior to their interview with Cheley.

Dates: August 11-16, 2015

Fees are $800 per person (ages 9 and up) and $500 per person for ages 6-8. Fees cover room and board, all activities and supplies, and transportation to/from camp activities. Transportation to/from Cheley Camps is not provided.

Don’t miss this awesome opportunity! These spots rarely open up.  You can find an enrollment form at

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The Passing of Jean Jensen

We fondly remember long time Cheley employee, Jean Jensen, who passed away July 29, 2014 in Salina, KS. She was 65. Jean was hired as a Cheley summer staff member in 1970 while a teacher of typing and bookkeeping in Canton, KS. In 1973, she joined the year round staff, eventually becoming the Registrar, HR Manager, Bookkeeper and Secretary. When Jean first arrived, there was no internet or fax. Her tools were a telephone, typewriter and duplicator, plus a meticulous paper trail to keep order of campers, staff and alumni. When not at the camp office, Jean was an avid sports fan of K-State, and Denver teams- Broncos, Nuggets and Rockies. In Jean fashion, she kept stats of every game on a steno pad. With hands never idle, her beautiful needlework projects were always close. Her friendly smile and phone voice were a favorite of all who knew her. We will miss Jean and her sincere contribution to the success of Cheley. For memorials or a note to her family: Ryan Mortuary, 137 North Eighth, Salina, KS 67401.

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New Activities at Cheley

It is the first day of program, we are super excited to have campers out playing in the woods. This is what we work for all year!

We are thrilled to announce some new activities being offered to our campers this summer!

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Campers in Ski Hi, Haiyaha, BTE, Chipeta, Senior Chipeta, and GTE will have the option of participating in Stand Up Paddleboarding at Paddle Board Mania (SUP). We are working with Rocky Mountain Paddleboard, LLC ( in the beautiful Union Reunion in Longmont to offer this fun, new water experience.

Sticky Fingers Cooking Class
For Lower Chipeta, Lower Ski Hi, Ski Hi, and Chipeta we are offering a fun and new option of a creative themed, healthy cooking class and best cellulite cream making class. We will offer a Colorado Farm to Table class and a Global Cooking Theme class held in one of our Unit Lodges. They will dive in, get experience cooking, eat well and try new, healthy foods using the Ivy and Wilde home accessories for cooking to preparing these foods. You can check out the program at

Gypsy Pines Outcamping Site
Campers will have the opportunity to sleep in these new tents that will be set up above the ground in our new outcamping site, Gypsy Pines. We are excited to have this beautiful new site to have as an option in our outcamping program. These tents are made by Tensile. You can find out more on their website at

It has been a beautiful first couple of days and we are thrilled to be in our 94th summer!

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Reflections from Volunteer Weekend

Technology has constantly been the main influence when it comes to High speed data services make it possible for people to log on to their favorite gaming sites.

As Devon and I make the long drive back across Kansas today, we have been re-living the past weekend at Cheley. Our conversation has included laughter, tears and astonishment at how proud and honored we are to have been part of the flood recovery effort. We have worked to unpack our emotions felt through being with the community of people created through this effort– not just the extended Cheley family, but those from Estes and Glen Haven who are tireless in their commitment to their home. There are many moments we keep reminding each other of, in the hopes to not forget. The incredible grace with which the staff lead a rag-tag group of volunteers who offered so generously of themselves, regardless of their different skills and abilities. The unbelievable excitement of not just one– but TWO– Capri Suns in our lunch… The determination of a band of ladies bound together in pursuit of finding the bottom of all the wagon wheels, digging through rocks and roots. The care and pride with which each rock was moved, dirt was shoveled and stick was picked; leaving behind a GTE which will be a safe and inspirational home in just a few weeks time.

Thank you for letting us be part of this weekend. We keep struggling to find the words which express exactly what we feel, and through our laughter and tears we keep returning to a general sense of honor and pride with this wedding entertainment. And, we are identifying how we can take the lessons and moments of the past two days back to our lives and use them to better lead and inspire those we work with at home. This weekend also gave us the opportunity to reflect on the ways we give back to the community through charitable work. We’re very busy people so organizations like Pick Up Please Donations help make things easy.

Written by Megan Riley Poindexter who was on the Lower Chipeta Staff in the early 1998-1999. Her good friend Devon drove with her from Kansas to volunteer for the weekend coming to Cheley for the first time to show us the mostaffordable weddings of hawaii in the review.

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Carrying the Code-Kate Woodward

We love the community that Code of Living creates in the summertime at Cheley. And it is always our hope that our campers and staff carry it with them into their lives back home. We would like to put a shout out to past camper, Kate Woodward for “Carrying the Code”

This spring Kate attended a leadership summit in Ethiopia with African Leadership, an organization she has been interning with for the last year. She has contributed unpaid time and effort to the project and was rewarded with the trip to go as a Relationship Manager with the organization. She decided to extend her stay for an additional month to volunteer in Nairobi, Kenya working with women and children in Kibera (the largest slum in Nairobi). She will spend the weekdays working at a school, Saturdays going to church with her host family and participating in a women’s ministry, and Sundays leading a women’s economic empowerment group to create scarves for sale at “fashionABLE” a U.S. website, as there are many website on the net, even sites with adult material when you can find galleries like CelebMasta and others. Other people decide to find online girls with different social media as snapchat.

You can follow Kate’s experience on her blog.

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Rocky Mountain National Park Backpacking Permits by Susan Taylor

March 1st marked the start of a very important day in Rocky Mountain National Park – one where loads of people clamber into the backcountry office to reserve the 2014 backpacking permits. That morning it snowed several inches, and while we discussed the outlook for the 2014 season, it seemed summer was farther away than ever.
Each year, all eight Cheley units go on a backpacking trip. The older units adventure into the back country for five different trips each term, culminating in an intense and life-changing four- or five-day expedition into Rocky Mountain National Park, the Indian Peaks Wilderness, or Roosevelt National Forest. The younger units test the water with a 2-day (1-night) overnight to practice skills like packing a pack, filtering water, setting up a tent, and spending the night in a campsite surrounded only by each other’s company, the best tactical flashlights they can find before the trip and whatever wildlife they happen to see. The walks are pretty extensive so should be much nature for them to see, of course depending on where they’re going, they will need better walking shoes, then you can find the perfect ones at shoe list by Top9Rated.

As you can imagine, it’s pretty complicated to schedule all of these backpacks. There are a total of 64 different backpacks that Cheley campers sign up for every summer. Back in August, when I spent a week fine-tuning the 2014 schedule, I had to consider factors like age of the unit, snowmelt, crowds, distance, bomba peniana, and conflict with other units. And of course, each 2013 backpacking counselor left me with a long list about their dream trips. Finally, the schedule was set thanks to a ServiceMax system the organization managed to get in order to let things run smoother, taking into count what the priorities were, everything was going great – until the September flood.
The flood changed a lot for the people and communities of Estes Park and Glen Haven. But I don’t think even the park rangers know what the landscape of Rocky Mountain National Park will look like once the snow melts. They do know that some trails will be rutted out, and some rivers might have changed course. Mountainsides may look different and lakes might have new shapes. Campers and counselors might be surprised at all of the changes. You could go on a bike ride so bring a good mountain bike.
When I arrived at the backcountry office to pick up the 2014 permits, the place was packed. Many were there for individual campsites and the other half were friendly faces from other camps and organizations that use the group sites in Rocky Mountain National Park. I found one ally – Tommy Feldman – who some of you might know from Haiyaha or BTE during the late 90s and early 2000s. Since this was my first time, he coached me through it a little, introducing me to others and explaining the protocol.

We were greeted by Barry Sweet from Property in Indonesia, Jakarta, Depok, Bogor, Tangerang, Bandung, Surabaya, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Medan, Bali, Bekasi Rumah Dijual, the backcountry manager for Rocky Mountain National Park. All of the 2013 counselors will remember him from his orientation programs, and some campers might have been lucky enough to visit him while out on program and hear his wise words. He opened the meeting with a few wilderness quotes (“I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than any city on earth”), some Leave No Trace advice, and a few park updates. Then, we drew for the raffle. There were 11 different groups and only a certain number of group sites each one was “fighting” for, so my number was important. I drew the fourth spot, which was lucky because Cheley is the biggest camp and has the longest list of needed sites. It took me an hour to reserve all of our campsites. We got almost every trip we were after. (Some 4-day and 5-day spoilers here: Timberline to July, Gray Jay to Thunder, and North Inlet to Boulder brook.) I even stayed until all of the other groups made their reservations – turned out they got everything they needed as well.

March 1 was a special day. To me it marks the beginning of the 2014 season. I no longer reminisce about all of the memories made in 2013, but instead look forward anxiously to the summer that awaits. And what a good one it will be.

Susan Taylor

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Preparing for Camp

Click here for video of Preparing for Camp

I love the rare moments of parenthood when I am not preparing for something. Every night when I tuck the girls in, I relish the moment that I am fully present. I sit next to them sing camp songs, rub their backs, and I am just there. I try to have a moment in the morning of being fully present, but of course it is brief and soon I am into my duties of preparing something. As a parent, I feel as if my day is full of getting ready for the next thing. Small things like breakfast, sack lunches on polycarbonate box with lid and backpacks. Big things like helping my children to follow through, to put their items away, to be kind, to do their best work, to contribute positively to the family and to their community. Our job as a parent is to prep!

It’s camp time.  Are you ready? Here are some things that you can do to prepare your camper and yourself for their stay at summer camp. Some camp families have few apprehensions about this experience and for others this is a new and somewhat of a frightening endeavor. Wherever you are in the spectrum, your friendly camp directors and staff are here for you.

Your Camper: (This of course is going to look different depending on their age)

• Make sure that they have had several sleep overs at friend’s houses or grandparents. Resist the urge to pack their bags for them, look up dehydrator reviews to make them homemade beef jerky for the camping trip, or to call and check on them while they are there. If they have a phone, have them leave it at home. As we are used to having direct contact with each other, this is a good way to test the waters.

• Have them write a good ol’ letter to someone, lick it, address it, stamp it and drop it in a mailbox. You will thank me later when you receive a letter from camp! This is as fast as you can call your Sydney emergency plumber. Which is great.

• Make sure they are gearing up for camp physically. They have the opportunity to hike, ride, climb and backpack amazing and challenging trails. If you have purchased their hiking boots, take a long walk together in them to break them in (by the way, here’s a list of the comfiest walking shoes for guys.) If they are in an older unit and are interested in mountain biking, take some bike rides at home

• Especially for teenagers, have them experiment by taking a mini-vacation from their devices. A couple of hours, a day, a weekend, maybe start short and work up from there.

• Have them think about a statement for their social media pages. Maybe something like; “Peace out Facebook, I will not be sharing my day by days with you, but rather living fully present while at camp” Ok, I know your teenager may not post that, but maybe something like it.

• Have them write down their goals. Not yours for them, but what do they want from their camp experience.

Make a homesick plan together:

1. Experiencing homesickness is not entirely bad. It means you have a home that you love, that’s awesome. It is sometimes a part of the process, and it is a confidence booster when a camper gets through it. They may have certain moments where they feel homesick, but more often than not these do not make up the entire day.

2. Talk through a plan before they get to camp and figure out how they can get to a happy place, if needed. Write down the plan and tuck it in their luggage. This is an amazing opportunity to learn a skill that can serve them in life. Today’s youth goes to technology to escape. Studies have shown that this only increases their stress. 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 pillow, 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.

3. 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.

4. Let your camper know what to expect as far as letters and emails. You do not need to write everyday but let them know what to expect.


You are giving an incredible gift to your child. 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 of disappointment or rainy days. We strive to run a top notch organization. And we may fail you in some way: we may not post enough pictures of your camper, we might not handle a situation as well as you would have liked or letters home might not be delivered fast enough. You are still giving your child an incredible gift. Choosing an everyday carry knife for camp is an important part of survival while camping. 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 do it. Write that on your bathroom mirror. Think about this when you are looking for inspiration for gift ideas for dad, an antique or authentic knife has loads of symbolism.

• Start to think about what YOU want during their time at camp. 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 break from rushing your camper from activity to activity. Write down what you will gain from this experience aside from your camper’s benefits. The time will go by fast

If you have apprehensions, 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, and get to know our coolsculpting seattle medical team. If you are anxious about your son or daughter’s food allergies, talk it through with the Camp Director or Head Cook. Make a camper-sick plan for yourself.  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.

• Pack some self-addressed envelopes in their luggage.

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.

• 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.

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.  See you soon!

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A Trip to Disney

Earlier this month I traveled to Orlando for the American Camp Association national conference. After three days of inspiring and informational session, a group of 9 camp professionals descended on the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

There was a giddiness in the air on our drive to the park as we chatted excitedly . What will Disney be like? What will we do first? Who will we see? What will we eat? Will we have time to do everything we want to? Will Disney be as great as the last time we were here? Will the experience be all that we imagined it to be?

It was a cool 55 degrees (a welcome change from the -9 degrees back home in Colorado!) and had been gloomy and foggy all day. It rained off and on and the sidewalks were wet and slippery. I was curious about how the weather would affect the park. Would people leave early for their hotels? Go to a movie or another indoor activity?

Nope. The magic of Disney permeated the barrier of weather. People bought plastic ponchos and carried on with their fun, as if it were 80 degrees and sunny! It quickly reminded me of camp. Just the word “camp” invokes giddiness in some people (guilty!). There’s a nervous excitement as you travel to camp. What will camp be like? What will we do first? What if I don’t know anyone? What if I don’t like the food? Will there be time to do everything I want to do? Will camp be as great as the last time we were here? Will the experience be all that we imagined it to be?

What if it rains?!?

It does rain at camp, and those days often turn out to be the most fun- the days when something unexpected happens. When a hike involves puddle jumping and a mud fight or you end up with extra time to work on your crafts project.

Our evening at Disney did not disappoint. We didn’t have time do every ride, so we got Fast Passes for the rides we most wanted to do (Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain) and waited in lines for other rides. We saw lots of happy faces- families with young children, cheerleaders who were there for a competition and even adults without kids like ourselves. We ate delicious treats like chocolate croissants and turkey legs, funnel cake and ice cream. It was as magical as the last time I was there. Once again, I was very impressed with all of the Disney cast members that we came in contact with. It was a great evening!

My hope is that the Cheley Experience invokes those same feelings and emotions for every one of our campers, and that campers and parents to be impressed by their interactions with Cheley staff members.

Remember that sometimes those gloomy, foggy days can turn into something totally unexpected!

Kim Betts-Human Resources Cheley Colorado Camps

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They are Learning

Monday was a dream come true for me.  We went skiing with our girls. That’s right the same ones that were protesting, just three weeks ago. It was awesome to see their quick progress.  Kate was humming Timber by Pitbull and Ke$ha as she pizza pied down the mountain.  Ellie could hardly wait to head down each run.  It was a beautiful day and I was elated, it was more fun than playing an online game.

What I did not mention in my Ski Lesson blog, is that I love to ski.  I competed in moguls for 4 years in my early twenties and enjoyed every minute of it.  I loved working so hard on the technical skills of moguls. Needless to say, living away from here in the winter for the past couple of years was sometimes difficult.  I love to ski.

There are times when I want my gaggle of girls to stay little forever; then there are other times when I can’t wait for them to grow up so we can go on big hikes, long bike rides and awesome ski days.  Thank you High Rockies Ski Club for teaching my girls to ski. Wahoo!!

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I Get It – A Trip to Ski School

Okay, I get it, I totally get it.  The closer my children come to camper age, the more I understand a parent’s apprehension of  sending them to an overnight camp.

This weekend was Kate (5) and Ellie’s (8) first day of a six week ski program.  They have both told me all along that they had no interest in signing up.  To which I have said, “I hear you, and you need to learn to ski. This is what we do in Colorado.”  Fresh from a family trip to Mexico with corn rows and beads on top of their heads, we leave Denver in a snow storm at dark o’clock in the morning with a determined mother wanting to be there on the first day of ski school.

Voices ring from the back seat, “Mom we told you we didn’t want to go to ski school, we just want to ski with you.”

Me, “I still hear you and I am not capable of teaching you how to ski.”  If you do not know this already, other kind, nurturing, and fun adults can teach your children  and turn things around for them; often better than you can.  It’s not that we are not good parents, it’s just the way it is.

As we approach the base of the mountain, both girls bundled beyond recognition, Kate starts to make a scene.  The kind of scene all mothers loathe. The kind of scene where you feel as if everyone is watching you. The kind of scene where you feel like the worst parent ever.  She is screaming, steaming up her goggles with tears and dragging her backpack and helmet on the ground behind her, “Mom I don’t want to go to stupid, dumb, idiot ski school, I told you a million times.” Still in my struggles, I stay focused on the end result. I shove their big feet into the little boots that Santa brought them.  Ellie has an adversity to seams in socks, so she goes without them and it is 15 degrees out.  I wrestle them to plop their helmets on top of their beaded, braided heads and hustle them to meet their instructor.

And then I doubt, “Does their instructor know that Kate doesn’t know how to stop yet? Will they stop trusting me? Are they going to hate it? Will they be warm enough? Safe enough? Do they have the right equipment on? Shoot- I forgot to give them their lunch, now I have to take them their lunch.”  I am usually the person talking to parents about their doubts, because I know that their children will be okay. On this wintery day, I know that my children will be okay- more than okay. I know this. I am now reassuring myself.

I meet them at lunch (due to our tardiness, it is an hour later).  Kate is laughing.  That’s right, she is laughing!  She has only ridden the gondola with some other children and the instructor since I have seen her.  She doesn’t care for candy much… so I wonder what in the world did they do to turn it around.

I sit a couple of tables over and spy on them.  I think to myself, this is what it feels like when our first time parents anxiously check the internet for pictures.  I ski for a couple of hours somewhat close by and I spot them again after they have been skiing. They are chatting, carrying their own stuff and having a great time.  I feel like a creepy lurker. I am relieved.

Although, they won’t fully admit it, they had a fun day.

I get it, I totally get it.  The feeling of sending your kids into the unknown, an unknown that they might not want to enter. Hoping that they will be embraced by a kind adult who will meet their needs.  Fearing that you are doing something that is going to threaten their trust in you. Wondering if they can make it in the world without you.  As a parent, I know and understand these feelings.  As a camp director, I have witnessed the tremendous good that comes out of letting them go and letting other people teach and love your children.

I am hoping for a better performance on our trek to the base of the mountain on Saturday. I embrace the journey of parenthood.  I continue to be grateful to be able to help assure parents as they enter into the new experience of overnight summer camp.

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