Girls smiling in crowd.

A Day in the Life

Every day campers embark on an exhilarating journey, where adventure, learning, and fun merge seamlessly in the picturesque Rocky Mountains.

To be honest, each day at Cheley is unique, wonderful, and full of surprises, so it would be almost impossible to specify every Day-in-the-Life variation. You will notice, however, that the Cheley Experience follows routine: one that repeats both First Term and Second Term and is closely mimicked during Quarter B-4 and Family Camp.

We intentionally plan “a typical day” with you in mind and to be balanced, structured, and detailed: every day, every term, and every summer. That’s just one reason campers and staff keep coming back!

Summer Camp

Each term begins with Arrival Day and Orientation Day and ends with Final Saturday and Departure Day. Twenty-seven days might sound like a long time, but it takes that long to unwind, get in shape, and make this experience one to remember!

The First Few Days…


Arrival Day

No matter if you’re flying in from Denver International Airport and taking the shuttle, or driving to camp, Arrival Day is Day 1 for everyone! That afternoon, upon arriving at camp, campers have time to move into their cabin or wagon, unpack, meet their cabinmates, wagon-mates, and counselors, and hang in their unit – their new home for 27-days. Throughout the afternoon and evening, they will learn some of the ways that Cheley operates, like at dinner when they receive the meal talk! After dinner, the unit will gather in the lodge for the first time altogether for introductions, icebreakers, and get-to-know-you-games before their first night’s rest in Colorful Colorado.

Boys smiling holding sign.


Orientation Day

The first full day of camp is spent in program orientation! Orientation is designed to allow counselors to give campers a brief overview of every program Cheley has to offer and that is available to them in their unit. That way they can figure out what they want to do! During orientation, campers may visit the riding ring to hear about the horseback riding program, snow seal their boots while learning about the hiking program, or spend time on the archery or riflery range for more information on our target sports programs. After which, campers will sign up for their first three days of program!

Girl holding horse talking to other girls.

Program, Program, Program

During our 27-day program, 19 days are what we call “Program Days.” On program days, activities take place so campers spend the day hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, rafting, paddleboarding, mountain biking, and so much more in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. During the first week of Summer Camp, campers have program days on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Continuing throughout the second, third, and fourth week, Sundays are the only non-program days. The last program day is the final Thursday of each term. Below, we’ve tried our best to outline a normal program day schedule so that you know what to expect during your summer at Cheley.


6:45 am: Rise and shine!
Waking up is easy for a day filled with fun and excitement! Make your bed, clean your cabin/wagon (campers and staff clean every day in preparation for inspection), and get ready for the day.

7:00 am: Rafters breakfast!
On a hike, going paddleboarding, or rafting down the Poudre River? You’ll have breakfast a little earlier than the rest of camp so that you can get to your trailhead or on the water early.

7:30 am: Morning fuel up! Whether it be in the dining hall, around the campfire on an overnight, or in the backcountry on a backpack, breakfast fills campers up with nutritious and delicious foods to fuel their adventure-packed day.

9:00 am: Activities!
After breakfast (which for most is well before 9:00 am), campers disperse, and program groups meet for half-day, full-day, or overnight activities.


12:00 pm: Lunch time!
It’s time to head back to the dining hall for lunch or stop on the trail for bulk. Lunch is most often served family-style and is sure to leave your belly full.

12:45 pm: Rest hour!
After lunch (if you’re in camp), you’ll head back to your cabin or wagon to relax and recharge. During this downtime, campers nap, read, write a letter home, and play cards: anything mellow and calming before afternoon activities.

2:00 pm: Activities!
With campers rested and ready to go, program groups meet for afternoon activities or continue their morning jolt.

4:15 pm: Treats!
Time flies when you’re having fun! And your day of program must end. Campers have free time in the afternoon to shower, visit the store for treats, work on patches, and hang out in their unit with new and old friends.


6:00 pm: Dinner time!
Another delicious family-style meal in the dining hall or around the campfire/backpacking stove on an overnight. Except on Thursdays when the entire unit enjoys a cookout!

7:00 pm: Campfire!
Units gather for evening program, which may include a scavenger hunt, Dutch auction, skit night, Mario Kart, s’mores, songs, games, and more. Throughout the term, we also have combined unit campfires, like for Square Dance, Disco, or Zumba with Brooke. Campfires end with friendship circle when you sing unit songs and taps.

8:30 pm: Cabin & wagon time!
Before bed, campers reflect on the day they had, share their Rose-Bud-Thorn, get ready for bed and prepare for the day ahead. It’s a chance to unwind and connect with your “go-to” counselor one last time before bed.

9:00 pm: Sweat dreams!
Lights out means it’s time for bed! A good night’s sleep in your own bed or under the stars is the perfect remedy for another fun-filled day.

Want to see an example schedule for a week of program?

Remember, schedules are specific to each unit, term, and summer so the actual activity offerings will vary.

Sunday Funday

Sundays look a little different than the rest of the week as they are not program days!

For starters, we sleep in until 7:15ish because breakfast isn’t until 8:00! Right after breakfast, depending on your unit, you may have program sign-ups for the next week when you get to choose which activities you want to do using our free-choice system or may have free time. At 11:00 am (unless you go early for choir!), all of the camp makes their way to the Chapel for a time of reflection and inspiration. Lunch is once again at noon and is typically a little nicer meal. For Sunday lunch, you’ll turn in a letter home as your entrance ticket. After lunch, you’ll do the opposite of what you did in the morning: either sign-ups or free time. And then it’s fun time! Whether it’s the first Sunday (Play Day), the second Sunday (All-Camp Campfire), or the third Sunday, Sunday afternoons and nights are full of cheer. Instead of having dinner in the dining hall, Sunday calls for a cookout with brother/sister units (after Play Day), all of camp (before All Camp), or as a unit. Most Sundays end with an evening Vespers or other campfire before Friendship Circle. With lights out, a new week is upon us!

Every Sunday


Chapel represents a non-religious gathering led by campers and staff. Emphasizing the Code of Living and foundational principles of character development, Chapel is designed to inspire without reflecting any religious themes. At Cheley, we embrace and respect all faiths, ensuring that Chapel remains inclusive and welcoming to individuals of diverse beliefs. This dedicated time encourages campers and counselors to engage in introspection, allowing for moments of contemplation and rejuvenation. There are also many musical performances at Chapel, including Choir, which all campers and staff are invited to join. Our setting provides unsurpassed beauty. Chapel begins at 11:00am. All campers and staff are expected to attend, wearing their kerchief and appropriate clothing (Chapel attire).

Kids walking into chapel.

First Sunday

Play Day

The first Sunday of each term marks Play Day where campers and staff from corresponding brother/sister units come together for a non-competitive, fun-filled event! Think of it as a lowkey Olympics with colors instead of countries. It is designed to promote camaraderie among campers. Play Day emphasizes the values of teamwork, FunPlus©, and safety. Campers and counselors alike are randomly grouped into teams, each dressed up head-to-toe in their designated color. Sports counselors meticulously plan the event, but everyone gets involved in the action. Whether you’re on the red team battling against purple in sponge dodgeball or on tie-dye perfecting your team cheer, expect an afternoon of excitement, friendly competition, vibrant attire, and an array of thrilling games. But just remember, everyone’s a winner at Cheley!

Second Sunday

All-Camp Campfire

The second Sunday of each term is set aside for All-Camp Campfire, including a cookout at Woods Kitchen, horse retreat (a flag raising ceremony) in the Western Riding Ring, and dance party. The campfire counselors of all eight units host this themed night. Each unit and often support staff prepare a song/skit and gather in the John Austin Cheley Pavilion to perform it. This is the only camp event with every camper and staff member! The dance party at the end of the night closes with “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” Then we gather for friendship circle with all of camp, followed by taps played by multiple trumpeters, and a final goodnight. Check out some past performances on our YouTube channel!

Next Steps

Ready for the summer of a lifetime?