Cheley Parents and Alumni-
As many of you are aware, we have decided to change the format and shorten the length of our Final Weekend schedule. Please know that this decision was carefully considered. We have noticed more schools are moving their start dates to earlier in August and campers need to return home for practices, tryouts, rehearsals, etc. In addition, many parents commented on the challenges of Monday travel and missing the start of the week. In making the decision, our number one priority was the closure of the camper experience. Second, we wanted to keep many of the traditions to which our families and alumni are accustomed. We are very excited about the new Final Weekend format, as we believe it brings a fresh approach with added flexibility for families.
Camp has evolved for over 95 years to stay relevant and meet the needs of our campers and their families. More and more parents, grandparents, and alumni travel to Cheley to be a part of our Final Weekend celebration. As this happens, more families are feeling obligated to attend, and a long weekend schedule isn’t practical for many of our families. In condensing the Final Weekend, we believe we are improving the camper closure experience and maintaining important traditions while making it easier on families as well.
Chapel was the tradition that we have heard the most support for keeping. For the benefit of our first year families, Chapel is a non-religious time for our campers to reflect and hear an inspiring or motivational message each week. During the Final Weekend Chapel, we have campers from each unit share their thoughts on what the experience has meant to them. Other than being moved from Sunday to Saturday, it will be very similar to what families have experienced in the past.
The biggest change is going to be at our Land O’Peaks (LOP) property with the removal of the Horse Show from the Final Weekend for the LOP units. Instead, we will have an open house format where campers can display their riding ability if they so choose. Additionally, our campers will have the ability to showcase a number of the programs we offer, unlike previous years, when the only option had been horseback riding.
In reviewing Final Weekend at the Trail’s End Ranch Units (TEs), we thought keeping a version of the Horse Show was appropriate. Because campers at the TEs have an option for a more horse-focused experience (not to worry for those campers not wanting to focus on riding), we will be offering a condensed Horse Show with a short open house opportunity as well.
We recognize that many of our families have multiple campers in attendance, and similar to the previous Final Weekend schedule, it is impossible for families to be able to attend everything for all of their campers. The open house format will add flexibility for families to attend multiple siblings’ events. We will be moving the Recognition Campfires to the same night (Friday) for all of the units. In the past, if families had siblings only in Girls’ Camp, only in Boys’ Camp, or at both TEs, they have had to deal with this in previous summers. As a result of this change, families with siblings in any of the different units are all affected the same. While we understand that there will still be conflicts for some families, we had feedback from campers, staff, and even some parents that camper closure would be improved if all of the units could spend the final evening (now Saturday night) with those whom they spent the previous four weeks. The staggered start of the Recognition Campfires is consistent with previous years at 30 minutes apart.
We believe the changes we have made are in the best interest of our campers. After the first year of the new Final Weekend format, we will be sure to reevaluate the successes and challenges of the weekend. As always, we will be sure to offer feedback to our campers, parents, and alumni.
We can’t thank you enough for your continued support and your understanding of the changes we’ve made. While the Final Weekend schedule is changing, we are not changing the overall Cheley Experience nor our commitment to youth.