A Summer Break

“Those on the outside don’t understand it and those on the inside can’t explain it.” This is the expression I use when trying to explain camp to my family and friends. It’s hard to put into words what camp means to me.

As a child I spent my summers at a day camp not far from where I live in Michigan. Those early summers taught me what patience, teamwork, love, friendship, and life were really all about. My life was scheduled out from the time I was a youngster. The sport of choice for me was hockey. Growing up I played on several travel hockey teams. That meant from August until May I was traveling all over Michigan playing hockey. My life was scheduled to school-hockey-sleep. It was nice, but I didn’t have any time to just be a kid. I wanted to play in the dirt and play games outside.

Camp became that outlet for me. Summer was the time that I was able to be a kid. I was able to play games and make friends. I had a blast and I didn’t even know all of the lessons I was picking up along the way.

Fast forward to the present and I have been working summer camps for the last seven years and I’m still growing. I owe who I am today to camp. My outgoing, smiley personality is because of all the wonderful kids and friends I have met along the way.  My best of friends are all camp people. I love that I get to be a big brother to so many kids at camp. It’s great to get to know them and be there for them during the summer. As an adult it’s easy to live a stressful life. You tend to let life pass you by and worry a lot. Camp is the perfect time to slow your life down a bit and enjoy the ride! It’s a magical place where in a few short weeks strangers become family.

I cannot wait to start this brand new journey at Cheley Colorado Camps this summer. “Camps- where family and true friendships begin.”

Stephen Smith is a first year Campfire counselor in Lower Ski Hi this summer. He is from Midland, Michigan and attends Central Michigan University. He enjoys anything outdoors- especially wake-boarding, tubing, boating and hiking.

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Inside the Bubble

Summer. Children giggling, horses trotting, fires blazing, tie dye splattering, bikes whizzing by, sneaky whispers at rest period, and chants of encouragement are all too-familiar sounds during my summer.

For the past five years, I’ve dedicated myself to working at summer camp. Before becoming an employee in the camping industry, I didn’t even know that summer camp really existed. I thought the only way that kind of place occurred was in the movies, and the majority of my thoughts and feelings about the whole concept were influenced by the movie “Parent Trap.” I didn’t know it at the time, but being a counselor that summer completely reshaped who I was, and who I was to become.

Through my years in school, I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. Sure, I played sports, got good grades, had some friends, and tried to get involved as much as possible, but it never really fulfilled me. I still always had this thirst for doing something more, lurking in the back of my mind. Thankfully, camp quenched that for me. I was finally in a place where I was accepted for just being me. I didn’t have to hide behind my insecurities anymore. It was a whole other world for me. People in the camping industry that are familiar with this concept like to refer to it as being in “The Camp Bubble.” It’s a strange thing you know, being apart of this bubble. If you think about it, camp is kind of just like any other place. There’s some grass, trees, dirt, and a few buildings. Of course, there’s all the fun activities, but doesn’t an amusement offer just as much thrill? I guess we could say it’s the people, but what are the chances that everyone who comes through camp are any different than the people who work at the mall? No, I think it’s something different. There’s something magical about connecting with complete strangers, outdoors, back to our roots where we’re not influenced by any form of technology, media, or everyday struggles. Without these forces clouding our mind and perceptions, were able to actually think, wonder, ponder, and re-connect with our lost imaginations. Of course, the kids have a lot to do with it as well. I think as adults, we take joy in finding a piece of ourselves in every child, because we can look into those bright eyes and it’s just like looking into a mirror. We see purity, amazement, bewilderment, laughter, honesty. And just like that, our inner child is re-born.

Camp has not only changed my life, it has given me my life.

Maggie Mitchell is from Fenton, Michigan and will be the Campfire Counselor in Senior Chipeta this summer.

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2012 Video

2012 Video

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A Life is Precious

Our little Samantha started to crawl last week.  She quickly moves towards  shiny beads, tiny Barbie accessories and board game pieces that get left on the floor by her older sisters.  Now it is time to make sure the baby gate is up and that the house is “baby proof”.  I sometimes think to myself, “how is the youngest of three going to survive her toddler-hood unscathed?”

As you give your heart, love, time and energy to the lives of these little people, there is always the fear that something awful can happen to them. From the time they are born we try to handle them with care.  We bring them home from the hospital, tucked in their approved car seat, driving carefully down the street with our hazards flashing.  We read our parenting books that we purchased from Abebooks (view discount coupons here – https://www.groupon.com/coupons/stores/abebooks.com), research the products we buy, and strive to keep our sleep deprived brains working. As they grow older we realize as scary as those first couple months seem, they are the easy years. As they grow older we fall more in love with them.  We send them off into the world; pray and cross our fingers that they will be cared for and safe when we are not with them.  We try to teach them to not trust strangers, to follow their gut if something doesn’t feel right, that their bodies are theirs and sacred, and to look both ways when crossing the street.  We love them with every ounce of our being. It is unfathomable to think of them being taken from us under any circumstances.

As we send them to school in a car equipped with best convertible baby car seats, to their friend’s houses, to camp, to the mall, to birthday parties, someday to college and to travel the world we are forced to trust.  We are forced to trust our children’s intuition, the quality of their caretakers, and any safety measures taken.

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We are forced to trust our own ability to deal if all else fails.  Furthermore, we are forced to face the reality that no matter how hard we try to take all the risk out of life, it will unfortunately always be there.

As a nation, we will hopefully move through this with love and grace. As youth industries, we will hopefully strive to improve whatever we can to lessen the risk.  And as parents and caretakers, we will hopefully continue to trust our inner guidance and strength however difficult that may seem.

My heart aches for those affected by this latest tragedy.  My emotions relate to every parent that can’t imagine what it must feel like to lose a child.   My mind continues to block out the temptation to get too driven by fear.  And my spirit continues to kiss, hug and release my children out into this world knowing that each moment of life is precious.

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After all it’s up to you

“The future “dew-dryers” for all the world are the young explorers who have caught a vision of what they might accomplish with one little life and who are determined in their heart of hearts that they shall not be at all satisfied with small petty games or with little selfish self-seeking achievements;  young folks who have tasted real life at its best and are living it every day for all that there is in them; young people everywhere who consider their lives as a trust to be used for the uplift of humanity along any one of a thousand different lines of endeavor, young people who have seen visions and dreamed dreams of the things that are yet to be.” –Frank H. Cheley, “After All It’s Up To You.”

Yesterday I began reading Frank H. Cheley’s book, “After All It’s Up To You” that he wrote in 1935. It is a book about leadership and the value of people’s potential. The principles that Frank speaks about in his book are actively being taught around camp and I believe that it is a great lesson that we are instilling in our youth. At Cheley Colorado Camps we encourage the campers to be leaders or “Dew-Dryers” as Frank would call them. Leadership and success are not defined by strength, wealth or material items. “Success does not lie in what you have, but in what you are; not in one’s ability to get, but in one’s ability to give.” Our campers are taught that to be a good leader you must be a good role model to others and serve others to the best of their ability. If someone is not benefiting others and creating a better world for future generations their value is lost. Whether it’s having a positive attitude on the basketball court, assisting a fellow camper on a hike or sharing advice with the younger units, our campers are putting into practice the values that will make them into great leaders.  “Real and lasting success is entirely a matter of living up to ideals- honesty, integrity and neighborly kindness; a staunch belief that right is right and wrong is wrong and that there can be no middle ground,” said Cyrus H. K. Curtis, publisher of The Ladies’ Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post.

At Cheley the campers get to whole-heartedly participate in a variety of worth-while activities that will hopefully give them the hunger for adventure and a thirst for life. If you are looking for new pokies pokiereview.nz list them all with daily casino deposit bonus offers. The campers are encouraged to experience self-realization while at Cheley through their programs and community building activities. On the Cheley website there is a quote that says, “Campers often say that they feel more alive, more connected and more themselves at Cheley.” Cheley provides a safe and supportive atmosphere that allows our campers to reflect and learn about themselves. Understanding and loving oneself is the first step in becoming a great leader, and it is fun to watch as the campers develop into themselves and seek to become fully independent and responsible.

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Gabrielle Carrier

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As the seasons change, so does the staff at Cheley Camps

We often joke about the comments we get when we are out in the world and we tell someone that we run an overnight summer camp.  Often the response is, “Wow, how fun, so what do you do in the winter?”  Without going into too much detail, we respond with, “Get ready for the summer”.   The Cheley family certainly does not do this alone and never has.

We are extremely grateful for the many talented and amazing people that have contributed to Cheley Camps’ success over the years.  When Frank set out to start building the beautiful facility we still have today, Lansing Smith completely supported him finically.  When Frank died and Jack was only 23, Ernie Altick and the secretary, Kelly helped to carry it forward.  And through the years the list grows and goes on.

As we move into our 93rd year, we will have some changes in our year-round staff.  Paul Weidig and Betty Schacht are both leaving Cheley Camps to pursue other interests.  We will miss both of them as they begin the next chapter in their lives.  Both of them brought professionalism and maturity to the Cheley Camps organization.

Paul Weidig joined the year round staff in 2006 after decades of being involved with Cheley one way or another.  Each year, he has worked hard to hire awesome summer staff, has taken on the management of the nurses, as well as the position of the Boys’ Camp Director, he has directed Family Camp for the past  several years and has been an integral part of the Cheley Experience. We have been blessed by his music, his tireless listening ear coupled with great advice, and amazing work ethic.  He has been a great addition to our year-round staff, and we are grateful that he will remain a colleague and continue his involvement with Cheley.  During the summer, Paul has always been around to lend an ear or support a new staff member in understanding the expectations and traditions at Cheley.

Betty Schacht joined the year round staff in 2008 after working as our accountant from the accounting firm Bundaberg since 2000.  As the enrollment manager, she has been a wonderful addition to our year round staff.  Parents are constantly commenting about Betty’s support and understanding.  We have enjoyed her maturity along with her humor, her business and accounting talents, her endless patience and organizational skills.  Over the past four years, she has created strong systems and improvements in the Enrollment Manager position and helps us hold the organization to a high standard.  There is a good chance she will stay involved with Cheley as a business consultant.

We wanted to let people know about these changes for a few reasons.  First of all, many of you have developed a friendship with one or both of these people.  Second, we want to let you know before you call the Denver office and get a new staff member on the phone.  Third, we want to put the word out there to see if you know of or can recommend any qualified people to fill these positions.  We have talked with a few people already, but we are starting the full process now.  We are fortunate that we have many contacts in the industry and have a good idea of the skills needed in these positions. If you, or someone you may know, are interested in exploring a position with Cheley, please contact Jeff at the Denver office.

We would like to thank both Betty and Paul for their dedication to the Cheley Experience. We will miss them and we wish them luck with their future endeavors.


The Cheley Family

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Cheley provides culture

One of the greatest things about Cheley Colorado Camps is the opportunity to learn about new cultures. Campers and staff come from all over the United States and even the world to attend camp at this establishment. Whether it’s a difference in accents, languages, traditions or location, campers get to understand and work hand in hand with their peers from all over the globe.  This past summer we had 52 international campers which are about 6% of the total 911 campers representing Saudi Arabia, Mexico, France, Mexico, Belgium, Spain, Canada, UK, China, Brazil, Hong Kong, Seychelles, Russia, Turkey, Singapore and Taiwan. Along with the 52 international campers we had 10 international staff members out of 206.  The majority of them hear about Cheley through the internet, exchange programs or family members that have attended Cheley. The registration process is the same as our native campers.

It is a unique experience for the children because they get to know people whose lives are very different from their own. Not only do they learn about the differences, they also get to recognize the similarities that they have. As I was talking to one of my international co-workers from Hungary we got the opportunity to exchange music. It was an interesting experience for me because although we live very different lives we also have many similarities and share the same taste in music. It was neat to realize that although we dress differently, speak differently and live thousands of miles apart we are more alike than different. I have gotten the opportunity to witness many of the campers as they share similar experiences as I have with my co-workers. I love watching them educate one another on their languages, traditions, and hometowns. They bond over sports, celebrities, music and more creating an irreplaceable experience that they could not find elsewhere.

Another neat thing about having a diverse group of backgrounds at camp is that it often times sparks the campers’ passion to travel. I believe it is very important for youth to want to see the world and learn about other cultures because it makes them more open minded and well rounded. After meeting people from these countries and states I have seen the desire to travel grow in these children. Attending camp with people from all over the country and the world has also prepared campers for their future when they work in businesses or attend schools where they are exposed to different lifestyles.

The opportunities at Cheley are endless and the campers enjoyed everything that camp has to offer including making long distance friendships that will last a lifetime.

–Gabrielle Carrier

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Cowboy Bob

Today Cheley Colorado Camps got a visit from one of its most memorable alumni, Robert Dern. Dern is known better as Cowboy Bob while at camp. He has been part of the Cheley family for 75 eventful years. He says his life was changed in 1937 the second he stepped foot on Cheley soil as a camper. His mother asked their family doctor in Colorado Springs, Leo Bayfore, if he knew of any camps to send her two sons. Bayfore, being married to Chief Cheley’s sister, told Derns mother there was only one camp she needed to send her sons, Cheley Colorado Camps. So that is exactly what she did. Dern was a camper for nine years and at the age of 15 became a counselor’s aid and an assistant wrangler during the Second World War for the first term of the summer because they were desperate for staff. Dern was so good at what he did that the Cheley’s promoted him to head wrangler for Ski Hi by the second term. The next year he came back as the head wrangler for Haiyaha.

Ten years later Robert Dern’s first child attended Cheley and eventually all five children followed in his footsteps. Keeping the tradition alive, eight out of nine of his grandchildren have attended Cheley as well. In 1993, Dern came back to Cheley to work for Cheley/Children’s Hospital Burn Camp for 13 years. From 2001-2004, he decided to come back as full time staff as the Fishing Manager. “I was here when Don Cheley was born, all of my kids and eight out of nine of my grandkids have attended Cheley. This camp has been very influential in my life” Dern said.

Dern currently comes to Cheley once a week with his son Bill to fish with the campers. He is also an active member with the John Austin Cheley Foundation. Cowboy Bob is a legacy at camp and both the campers and staff look forward to his weekly visits for a little piece of Cheley history.


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Update from Cheley

The High Park fire has continued to grow but is not moving in the direction of the Trail’s End Ranches or the Land O Peaks Cheley property.

The fire has impacted some of our program areas.  Our rafting program is conducted on the Poudre River and access to that area has been closed due to the fire traffic.  Instead of rafting, we have contracted with the same company to provide access to the CSU High Ropes Course.  The campers are excited for this new adventure at Cheley.  We are also excited because it follows the scope and sequence of our programming.

The horseback riding programs at BTE and GTE have also been impacted.  The National Forest Service has closed many of the areas we ride to from BTE and GTE.  Because of these closures, we are sending the TE rides out of the Fish Creek Ranch (the Cheley ranch just before you drive into the main camp property).  Our main focus is the well-being of the campers and staff while we work to limit the impact on their activities.

We have also been monitoring a structure fire in Estes Park.  It is on the other side of town and is moving away from us.  We are also not concerned about the fire at this time (except that we know some homeowners in that area).  Many of you outside of the area will probably not hear of this fire.  We did see that DenverPost.com has a small story on the fire, and we wanted to be proactive with our communication.

Again, at this time, we are monitoring both fires and we are not concerned about Cheley properties.

The Cheley Family

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Can We Really Trust Every Doctor

Doctors have often been seen as some of the smartest members of society, and with good reason. It takes years of training, constant retraining, and a lot more than just book smarts to be a good doctor. But they are still human, and humans are fallible. Mistakes are made every day, and while some of them can be insignificant, others can completely change lives. Suing doctors for less-than-perfect practice is becoming more and more common, the morality of which is debatable. If you need help, and only certain people are able (and often, legally obliged) to help you, is it really fair to blame them if their best isn’t good enough? In many cases on the other hand, it is clear if a patient suffered because somebody was careless. Here’s a brief story we should all know about.
Going in for brain surgery is worrying enough for most patients, but those in Rhode Island Hospital could be forgiven for being more worried than most. Despite being the most prestigious hospital of the state, and a teaching hospital for students of Brown University, the hospital made the basic yet tremendous mistake of operating on the wrong side of a patient’s brain. Three times in one year.The first incident was the result of a third-year resident failing to mark which side of the brain was to be operated on. The doctor and nurse in this operation claimed they were not trained in how to use a checklist, although one must ask how many people would allow their heads to be cut open by someone who has clearly never received professional training in the fine art of grocery shopping.In the second incident, a different doctor (with over 20 years experience) never filled out which side of an 86 year old man’s brain had a blood clot, assuring the nurse that he remembered. The patient in this case died a few weeks later, and the Preszler Law group was able to get a big compensation for the family.
In the third case, the chief resident neurosurgeon and a nurse both clarified which side of the brain was to be operated on beforehand, and then proceeded to operate on the other side. All three cases involved different doctors, but whether it’s better to be in a hospital where one doctor repeats a mistake multiple times, or several doctors make the same mistake is debatable.

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