Greetings from colorful Colorado! Paths once covered in footprints are now almost invisible, concealed by fallen pine needles and that first fall of snow. Chipmunks and mice, who were kept at bay by peals of bells and laughter, reclaim the land. Mountains made solemn by snow, watch over the songless lodges, remembering the joy that came before the frost. Cheley’s gates are closed for the winter and we have all said farewell. Nonetheless, the memories, skills, and friendships that campers and counselors alike have forged will echo in our minds for years to come.
This summer we strove to move beyond merely surviving, as we had done when Covid-19 was the predominant conversation. We aimed to ensure that every camper was able to thrive while here and was able to reconnect with themselves, others, and nature. While thriving here, campers pushed themselves, faced their fears, and learned to work through them. The days when the campers got within touching distance of the peak of a mountain, before having to turn back due to bad weather. The days when campers tumbled off mountain bikes, picked themselves up and got back in the saddle. The days when, no matter how still they stayed, the fish just weren’t biting. All these days and more have made the campers more self-assured and helped them understand that circumstances may be outside of their control but how they react is up to them. These memories remind them of their inner character and resiliency. These days helped the campers to grow, moving from timidness to increased inner conviction.
We, as counselors, were the campers’ companions on their journeys. We guided them up mountains on bikes, horses, or foot. We steered them down rivers in rafts or on paddleboards and steadied their hands during crafts.
This summer our hikers, led by Julie Street, Sarah Litteken, and Sandra Dillinger explored the wonders of the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Indian Peaks Wilderness. They traversed mountains, uncovered magnificent lakes, and spotted wildlife as they went. They were taught balance and to push themselves along the way, helping them to learn about and love nature. Some campers went above and beyond learning these values, also learning about flora, fauna, mountain safety, and navigation in order to earn their Hiking patch. Those campers were: Georgia Arnett, Olivia Boncelet, Sunny Christensen, Molly Dembo, Emily Gregg, Kate Haney, Martha Hughes, Isabella Pendergrass, Maggie Scarborough, Micyla Talafuse, Petra Velicescu, Lauren Coury, Reagan Ellsworth, Kendall Holmes, Lucia Penick, Madeline Selke, and Claudia Zimmerman.
Some campers sought a more immersive experience in the park and chose to go on backpacks. Led by Lucy Zicarelli and Margot Bickler, the backpackers caught a glimpse of what life could be like as an inhabitant of the park, seeing its evolving beauty as the sun moved across it day by day. They were taught resilience, personal responsibility, gratitude, and confidence. The backpacking counselors’ focus on these things contributed to the campers’ sense of connection to nature as well as their ability to push and surprise themselves. Some campers elected to stretch themselves beyond learning about these values, also learning the fundamentals of how to backpack independently themselves. These campers earned their Backpacking patch: Olivia Boncelet, Carolyn Dunlap, Delaney Funk, Eloise Lishka, Hollis Toomey, Petra Velicescu, Lucia Penick, and Trilby Schmidt.
Other campers elected to invest their energies in connecting to nature through outcamping. This program, led by Izzy Dunn, focused on connecting with each other underneath the stars. They developed their social skills in order to forge stronger connections with one another and through so were able to rejuvenate themselves. These outcampers committed themselves to earn their Outcamping patch, learning a number of skills from emergency procedures and cooking over a stove, to proper shelter construction: Kai Boveri, Ava Scharf, Charlie Ballenger, Abigail Silberman, and Gabrielle Warburton.
This summer our wranglers, Katie Belle Perkins and Avery Davis, led the riders on treks to Pierson Meadow, Twin Sisters, and Chasm Junction. Our horseback riders went on 4-day overnights to Outpost Corral, where they worked on their horsemanship skills and grew closer as friends. The wranglers focused on giving campers the “Full PKCG:” patience, knowledge, confidence, and grace. When campers go above and beyond in the riding program they can earn their Riding patch. This rigorous feat requires that campers are extensively knowledgeable on horse safety and health, and are capable of caring for and adequately controlling their horses. These campers earned their Riding patch: Hazel Bertron, Celia Gregg, Sofia Bours, Lucia Del Haya, Natasha Gangji, Evelyn Ratliff, Nadia Stigered Angelo, and Sofia Sandavol. Harper Orr was recognized with the Trail Hand, a special recognition honoring a camper’s horsemanship knowledge and skills, positive and consistent character, and leadership qualities and potential.
Our camp cyclists had an adventurous summer of conquering fears and performing technical feats. Mountain bikers went to Hermit Park, Lily Lake, Stanley Park, and Devil’s Backbone. While on these rides they trained hard so that they could ascend larger and more challenging hills like the Cheley Challenge and Big Nasty. Some campers even took on the challenges of our 2- and 3-day overnights to Girlboss Grounds and Pierson Forest with our mountain biking counselors Morgan Withers and Kate Hayde. Our mountain bikers learned technical skills as they built confidence and endurance. The following campers embodied this and put in the labor to achieve their Mountain Biking patch: Jayden Allison, Kaile Allison, Colette Bocksch, Elizabeth Byrd, Anna Codr, Ava Kennedy, Ava Sutton, Katie Timko, Kate Craine, Amelia Dickerson, Molly Maiocco, Janowyn Street, and Avery Thorpe.
Some campers chose to follow a number of different pursuits, trying different things and expanding their horizons. Some of these campers spent at least fifteen days on activities out of camp, including three days each of hiking and backpacking and two nights out of camp. The campers who earned their On the Trail patch were: Hollis Toomey, Celia Gregg, Caroline Haley, and Katie Timko.
In camp, campers undertook lots of different challenges. Our crafters this summer dedicated their time to creating an array of objects, including ceramics, board games, and tie-dye. They were taught by Maeve Cullen to explore concepts and to value the process over the results of their efforts. On the riflery and archery ranges, led by Madi Doletzsky, campers learned to value safety and respect and understand the importance of proper handling while also learning to embody being respectful, as listening on the ranges is paramount.
At the end of our long, hard, and rewarding days, we were always grateful to come back to our evening Campfires, led by Erin Bingaman. At campfire, the campers were taught to foster community, inclusivity, and vulnerability. They played games to get to know one another and build lasting relationships. These campfires encouraged campers to bring their true self to camp and also made sure that every day ended on a positive note. They led us in campfires like Dutch Auction; Lip Sync Battle; Girls’ Camp Sing-A-Long; and Paper, Stick, Rock.
Thank you to our Campers in Leadership Training (CILTs) this summer: Maile Kaplan, Sara Burke, Kate Gillikin, Bailes Malone, Marina Griffin, Ari Graham-Gurland, Kalena Shults, Annie Sallick, Audrey Lobb, Rosalie Libby, and Sam Jorgensen This summer they worked on developing their own leadership skills and stepping up as role models for the rest of the campers.
Every term each summer creates a living document of values that uniquely defines that unit called the Code of Living. These values are what we aspire to and hold ourselves accountable for this summer and beyond after the summer ends. The Gold Key recognition is a tangible representation of the Code of Living and is a testament to those values. Gold Key recipients were: Maile Kaplan, Marina Griffin, Petra Velicescu, Emily Gregg, Rosalie Libby, Janowyn Street, and Patricia De Cruilles. On recognition night we encourage these recipients to remember that this is not the destination, but part of the journey to continue to uphold the Code of Living.
The final unit circle has come to a close. In a few months, we will light our friendship candles over the holidays to remember being at camp and being together. May the memories we’ve made sustain us…
Until Next Summer,
Meg Rash, Director
Sierra Nutter, Asst. Director
Jo Davies, Asst. Director