Farewell to First term

Another term has ended, and for some, concluding their final days at Cheley.  For others, it is the start of a new summer tradition.  For all, it is has been an experience that will be cherished forever.  It has been an exciting an emotional weekend with an astonishing horseshow and final banquet.  Emotions ran high as campers expressed their love for Cheley and for one another.  I have enjoyed working with your children and watching them grow.  It is impressive to see new faces establish themselves in a new environment and push themselves to new heights.  Thank you to the photographer team.

“As a new addition to the multimedia/photography team this year, I have come to know an amazing and tight-knit community of staff and campers. Every young face was new to me at the beginning of the term, and watching the progress of each group was truly rewarding for me. The young boys and girls of Cheley Camps all went through amazing journeys of growth, both personally and as groups. I watched first year campers overcome the fear of heights and horses, receiving patches and recognitions by the end of camp in areas that they never would have tried at home. Cheley pushes every youth to overcome his or her own obstacles, teaching a lesson that is deeper than the achievement itself – I often heard campers proudly exclaiming that after peaking a mountain, they knew they could accomplish whatever goals they’d been putting off at home. An added benefit to this personal growth is the ability to build a strong team, and this was seen most clearly in the final day of camp. The group dynamic here gave girls a unique bonding experience, living and working together to undertake camp as well as build each other’s self esteem. Secluded in girls’ camp, shy girls come out of their shell, singing and dancing with their friends. The same could be seen in boys’ camp, with experienced hikers and shooters sharing their knowledge with new campers and younger boys.  Groups who had never met before their month at camp shared in heartfelt singing, speeches, recognitions, and tearful hugs. Last night’s final banquets were sincerely touching, for the campers as well as the counselors and staff. I know I cried with Senior Chipeta when they sang their final song together at dinner! I heard so many people saying the same thing – I might not ever see you again, but you will change the world, like you changed my life. Thank you for sharing your children with us for the first term.”

Liz Greene- videographer

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off


“Sit beside a mountain stream, See her waters rise,
Listen to the pretty sound of music as she flies….”

Tucked away in seclusion, next to a peaceful creek in the woods, is the out camping site Rockstock.  It is one of my most favorite serene places to visit at Cheley. Rockstock is a retreat for campers and staff alike to be immersed in a natural environment among friends.

Faith Evans, a former out camping counselor at Cheley, established Rockstock 26 years ago in 1985.  Her intentions were to create an out camping program with the outdoor elements of backapcking, where the less adventurous campers would have the opportunity to grow and learn self-sufficiency in the outdoors.  These campers would learn to cook gourmet meals, build their own shelters, and work together while gaining an appreciation for nature.  Rockstock was designed to be a site where counselors could develop and learn new skills as well.  Counselors that typically stay in camp for programs have the chance to experience nature and gain outdoor living skills.  For out camping counselors, this is a place to be mentored by the Rockstock director and coached in developing their out camping programs.  The support staff is also invited out for meals and to experience this out camping haven.  It also provides the opportunity for campers to practice hospitality as they prepare all the meals and give tours to the guests.

It is an evolving program, in which each new director adds a personal touch, but keeps the basic principles at heart.  Eric Gershon, the current Rockstock director, strives to continue Rockstock’s legacy as Faith had intended.  Eric runs an excellent program that campers cannot wait to be a part of.  When asked why Rockstock is so appealing to the campers, Eric attributed it to the unique games, the hands on experience, and most importantly the chance to play in the water.  Campers get to play in the creek, construct bridges, and float through the rapids on tubes.  “I like tubing down the river and making our own food.  It helps us know how to survive in the mountains,” a current camper states.  Another camper likes building his own shelter and playing “Gaga”, a dodge ball game unique to Rockstock.  All activities the campers enjoy, they enjoy doing together.  Eric assigns teams for all tasks at Rockstock, whether it is fire building, cooking, or building shelters.  Part of the Rockstock program is to help kids interact and create relationships with peers.  “I strive to create a sense of community within the campers that will not only last through the summer, but beyond camp as well,” Eric Gershon states.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Code of Living

“Character is not achieved over night or created at will or “caught” as we have been told, in the strictest sense.  As a matter of fact Character, greatly as it is to be desired, is NOT a thing in itself but a product of sanity and right living.  It is founded and maintained only by constant performance.”

- Frank H. Cheley

Last night, each unit, as well as each cabin, gathered to discuss their individual “Code of Living”, a written set of standards and values that the campers create for themselves.  This has been a tradition dating back to the era of Frank H. Cheley, founder of Cheley Colorado Camps.  Frank believed that rather than having rules provided, the campers should establish a moral code as a group that they wish to live by and aspire to, allowing them to take an active role in the development of their character.  The Ski Hi boys within the cabin of Cheyenne developed multiple values in their code of living including, Respect, Encouragement, Team Work, No Bullying, and Accepting Differences.  The Haiyaha boys were led by their CILTS (campers in leadership training) in facilitating the development of their moral code. John Burk, Assistant Director of Haiyaha, described the scene as very reverent with the campers holding a deep respect for this honored tradition.  Every camper provided input to the collective ideals that would be their Code of Living.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s here

Summer is finally here and the Cheley Colorado Camps are prepared for another incredible summer, thanks to a lot of hard work from our pre-camp crew and full time staff.  These counselors and support staff workers arrived to Cheley in mid May and were greeted by 48 hours of constant snowfall as they logged, raked, cleaned and set up the entire camp for Cheley’s 91st summer.  Also, for the last week, the counseling staff has been going through a rigorous training session for their respected program areas as well as working with children in general.  Renowned child psychologist Dr. Bob Ditter has facilitated numerous workshops, preparing counselors for the many situations arising with campers.  Everyone is ready and enthusiasm is high, as we await the arrival of this year’s campers.

Tomorrow, the campers will be arriving to Cheley.  For many, this will be a returning journey to the Rocky Mountains where adventures are certain to continue.   For others, this will be their first time at camp, away from home.  Regardless of past summers, Cheley will be sure to provide unique experiences for all in a nurturing natural environment.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It is not about the curtains

We always get a chuckle when it’s time to explain to the pre-camp crew what their assignment is for the day.  “What? You want me to rake and redistribute these pine needles and move around these large rocks into a perfect line?”  “Really? You want us to dust every inch of this cabin?” “It’s snowing; is it going to be like this all summer?” And years later when these same people return for a visit, they tell us that working pre-camp has made them better at their jobs and taught them important life skills.

In our year-round staff meetings, we revisit our mission and our service quality structure.  We believe that it is part of our promise to our parents and campers to take pride and care in our facility.  My grandmother was a woman with a high standard, so high that no one felt like it could ever be met.  Her role at camp was about the quality of the details and her point was, “It is not about the curtains; but if you have hung the curtains right and all the light bulbs are in working order, you will also take that same care of the children that have chosen to spend their summer here”. After my grandfather had retired, he would drive around camp changing light bulbs.  This philosophy has been handed down.

We have six amazing men that work all winter to build, repair and upkeep the facility through the winter.

And now for the next couple of weeks, a wonderful crew of people will prepare the facility that is the anchor for the magic of camp.  Thank you crew, for your hard work and dedication to our mission, and we promise the snow will melt soon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Boy Scout Merit Badges at Cheley

For the past few years, I have been authorized as a Merit Badge counselor for the Boy Scouts.  We have many campers that are also involved in Boy Scouts and would love to complete a few badges at camp.

I am registered as a merit badge counselor for the following Boy Scout Merit Badges; Hiking, Archery, Backpacking, Camping, Fishing, Horsemanship, Leather-work, Rifle Shooting and Wilderness Survival

If your son is interested in completing any of these badges, please have him bring the appropriate paperwork to camp this summer.  He will need to take the initiative to complete the requirements with the appropriate counselor in his unit and then I will complete the paperwork.  I hope this helps some of our boys in their pursuit of their Eagle Scout and other recognitions in the Boy Scouts.

We are looking forward to the summer!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy Earth Day and Let’s G.O. (Get Outside) month

Happy Earth Day!

As I continue on this journey of motherhood I am baffled at how fast time is flying.  I just hope that I am doing a decent job, and covering all my bases.  Everyday is a moment to moment balancing act of making sure my kids have a least eaten a bite of their meal, that we are following what we are supposed to be doing for school, that their hair is at least halfway combed with maybe a bow stuck in it, that their shoes are not too stinky, and that they are hopefully nice to the other children.

I love being a mom, AND I sometimes long for the days of being a backpacking counselor at camp, or being drenched in rain for 5 weeks straight in the mountains of Patagonia.  I long for the days of living in a tent and knowing the peace and comfort that only nature brings.

Will I be able to instill this same love of the natural world in my girls?  Will they grow up to know how important it is to be connected to the earth?  As a camp director, I hope I don’t miss the mark on this one.  However, during the winter months, it does seem like we get stuck in our routine of school, play dates, extracurricular activities, birthday parties, and trips to the playground.  We live in a world that does not always lend itself to being connected to nature.  My phone or computer are never too far away, and at ages 3 and 5, Kate and Ellie are magnets for any technical gadget they can get their hands on.  Kate can work the cell phone like she is a little adult and Ellie could play Angry Birds on the iPad for hours if I would let her.

As I am a firm believer in the movement to reconnect children with nature, I decided we were past due for a little trail time out of the city.  I wanted to honor Earth Day, and April being the “Get Outside” month, and walk my talk.  I packed up the family for a little day adventure across the Causeway to Fontainebleau State Park.  Ten minutes into our drive, the questions started, “When are we going to be there?”

Ellie said, “Ya know Mom, the other day I saw a car with a TV in it.”

I replied, “Yes I know, those are pretty cool aren’t they,” thinking of all those gear hungry people who cannot leave the house without a gadget and then I started to blare our favorite songs from the Sound of Music, and we all loudly sang along.  Then of course we had to play “Pretty Girl Rock,” because we think it is hilarious to hear the girls sing “Don’t hate me ‘cause I’m beautiful.”

As we entered the gates of the park, that feeling of a slower world hit me.  It was an awesome feeling for me to be bringing my girls into nature, and to share the love and appreciation that I have for it.  To be present with them and away from the hustle of our daily lives was what I needed.  We walked under the beautiful trees and admired their huge roots, watched dozens of dragonflies and other bugs, and listened to the birds.  I did forget to pack the bug spray, and the mosquitoes were very large and plentiful, so we did a lot of swatting

In Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods,” he writes: “As the young spend less and less of their lives in steroids online, their senses narrow, physiologically and psychologically, and this reduces the richness of human experience.  Yet, at the very moment that the bond is breaking between the young and the natural world, a growing body of research links our mental, physical and spiritual health directly to our association with nature – in positive ways using health information technology

In our 91st season, I sometimes find myself apologetically explaining to new camp parents that they will not get emails, calls or texts from their children, as I know this is new territory for them.  I find myself worrying that there might come a time when parents and children do not want to be “unplugged” for the summer.  I worry that the desire for skills and knowledge will outweigh the desire for strong character.  As a fourth generation camp director, I dedicate my life’s work to providing a summer experience for youth which allows them to play, grow, and learn among the beauty of nature.  I strive to stay true to the powerful mission that was set forth by Frank H. Cheley; he believed so strongly in the phrase, “Great things happen when youth and mountains meet.”  And as a mother, I dedicate myself to the movement to reconnect children and nature, and I will start with my own.

Take the time to celebrate the Earth, today and everyday.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Parenting and Technology

Now that I have joined the parent community.  I recently attended a meeting that addressed the impact technology is having on family dynamics and relationships.  Craig Knippenberg talked about the positive and negative impacts he has seen as the byproduct of technology.  I appreciated that he talked about the positives of technology and its ability to help families share moments while they are apart, the security it provides for families,  and its ability to facilitate social interaction.  He also talked about the negative effects of technology, how it can become an obsession, the increase of spontaneity (he said that for parents, spontaneity can be the enemy because it robs you of your ability to plan and fully discuss all the options with your children), and the dependency it creates between children and parents. Keep your home and business safe with surveillance and monitoring gear from https://www.securityinfo.com/.

He made the comment that as parents, “we need to give them roots and wings.”  Craig suggested using the phrase, “I think you can figure it out”, after receiving a call from your children for help that offers you the chance to provide them with a decision -making experience.  Craig also mentioned the lack of truly connecting with each other and the loss of reflection and “down time” for all of us.  This made me think of camp.  Camp offers down time to be present with your mentors and your peers and it offers the opportunity to find a solution without picking up the phone.

Two of the best concepts I gained from his presentation were comments about connecting with children.   He quoted Jimmy Carter who said, “The two most important loves in your life should be God and the person sitting in front of you.”  Regardless of your religious beliefs, I think we could all improve in paying attention to those in front of us.  Especially when we have the opportunity to connect with children, we should do what we can to give them our full attention.

His second concept was “fly fishing for feelings.”  I loved the visual and the idea that we are not bait fishing for conversations but rather fly fishing for conversation.  I have to be honest, I am not a fly fisherman, but I did see the movie “A River Runs Through It” and have spent a frustrating day on the shores of a river in Alaska with dozens of other fisherman during a salmon run.  Fly fishing takes patience and the ability to lead, and to focus, all while enjoying the process.   As Henry David Thoreau once said, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”  If we look at having a conversation with our children as “fly fishing for feelings”, we may be more successful at connecting with them.  We must realize that we may not get the answer we want on the first cast.

Cast #1 – How was your day?

Response – “Fine.”

Cast #2 – What was the best part of the day?

Response – “I don’t know.”

Cast #3 – What would you do over again if you could?

Response – “Stay in bed longer.”

Cast #4 – What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

Response – “Being done with my history test.”

You may start thinking “Hey, the answers are getting longer.”  Keep casting.

Cast #5 – What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned in history right now?

Response-“Did you know that movies didn’t have sound until 1927?”  Or “Did you know that the very first American in space only was in orbit 15 minutes?”

Cast #6 – Wow, I didn’t know that.  What was the first talking movie? Or, who was the first astronaut?

And you’re off and running.

I just received a wonderful book called “Get to Know your Kid” by Shana Connell Noyes.  The book is full of questions to help parents connect with their children.  Some of the questions are:

What do you like most about yourself?

What do you like best about our family?

What was the best day of your life?  Describe it.

Would you say your life is better than most people’s lives or not as good? Why?

So next time you pick up your children and they want to sit in the back and text their friends, start “fly-fishing for feelings.”  Keep casting questions until you get a nibble, and then lead them in.  Remember, sometimes it takes some effort and some line to catch a fish to be proud of. On other tech related news, if you need help with social media marketing for you business check out one of the most leading social media marketing agency – The Marketing Heaven.

Here’s to the journey of parenting!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Top Ten Benefits of Sending Your Child to Camp

1.Explore the outdoors – Camps foster children’s connection with the natural environment.

2. The opportunity for unstructured play – Dr. David Elkind says, ““The traditional summer camp recognizes that play is a powerful form of learning that contributes mightily to the child’s healthy physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development.”

3. Meet people from around the world – Campers are exposed to different cultures, beliefs, and personalities at camp.

4. Build Independence – Campers have the opportunity to make decisions on their own in a safe and nurturing environment thus building independence.

5. Build Confidence – Camps focus on the success of the camper which helps young adults build self-esteem.

6. Gain proficiency in a skill area – Camps offer structured training in specific skills and general life skills.

7. Parental growth – The camp experience is also a growing process for the parents.  Parents learn to let go and trust that their children will make good decisions.

8. Develop Resiliency – Camps help children learn to succeed and fail in a nurturing environment and teach them to give it another try if they don’t succeed the first time.

9. Children are in an environment built specifically for them – Camps are designed for the success of children.

10. Physical activity – Children are active at camp.  Away from technology and the couch, they are able to be active, breath fresh air, and exert themselves.

Ref: Blue Sky Fostering.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Don Cheley on the Phoenix Society Board

Don Cheley is pleased to report that he has been selected to serve on the Phoenix Society Board of directors.  The Phoenix Society is the largest non-profit dedicated to  providing support to burn survivors and their families.  They hold the annual World Burn Conference to bring together those impacted by a burn injury to provide networking and support for Recover, Renew and Return with help from the san diego personal injury lawyers.  This year over 300 attended the conference in Galveston, TX. . The Burn Camp programs has been acknowledged as the best way to help children with their recovery.
Cheley is respected as a pioneer in the development of this kind of
program.    So Burn camps are an important link in the recovery process
for all survivors to thrive.

We are proud of Don’s involvement with this organization.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment