Each day at Cheley is unique and wonderful, 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. Each term begins with Arrival Day and Orientation Day, and ends with Final Weekend and Departure Day.
With the morning bell signaling rise and shine at 6:45, we start our mornings fairly early. You and your fellow cabin counselors will lead a cabin/wagon clean-up before breakfast, which is in the dining hall at 7:30 (unless you’re on an overnight or EB, of course). We start breakfast with morning announcements in case there’s something to share or a special happening. Typically, during breakfast or right after the meal, a director or assistant director will conduct a cabin/wagon inspection and grade your overall cleaning performance so make sure you do well!
The excitement really takes place once breakfast is over! Campers who need supplies can quickly stop by the camp store; however, once breakfast ends, program begins. Whether it’s an all-day or half-day program, or an out-of-camp or in-camp program, you will spend the day with a specific group of campers for their activity of choice. Although you are most often scheduled to your specific program area, you will likely have opportunities throughout the summer to try another program area. Some of our daily programs include archery, backpacking, ceramics, challenge course, climbing wall, colts, crafts, fishing, high ropes, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, outcamping, rafting, riflery, sports, stand-up paddleboarding, technical climbing, and woodworking. Not every unit will have every program on a given day nor necessarily during the term, but each unit will have an opportunity for almost everything.
Following morning program, we have lunch at noon, unless you’re out of camp then you can decide when to make “bulk” or start your fire and make lunch. Rest hour proceeds lunch; this is a time for silent relaxation in cabins or wagons where campers can write, nap, read, and sometimes play cards or another game. This is a great time for you too to catch your breath, check in with campers, and maybe write some of your reports. If you’re on the trail or outcamping, we highly recommend you still find time for a rest hour, you won’t regret it!
Just as we do in the morning, we have a variety of afternoon programs, whether it be a continuation of your morning one or another half-day program. Before concluding any out-of-camp activity, upon returning to camp you will visit Stuff-Inn to clean bulk, return your equipment, and/or mountain bikes. With the end of program around 4:15, it’s free time! Campers (and most counselors) during this time will shower, pay a visit to the camp store for treats, and hang out around the unit before dinner. You need to have some time for yourself too! Whatever you would like to do to help you feel great, this is the time to set yourself up for success with your director. Some units have mail call before dinner where letters, packages, and emails are handed out (to you too!) while other units have mail call after dinner or before bedtime.
Dinner is served at 6:00 in the dining hall (unless it’s a Thursday cookout) and hopefully around this time if you’re out of camp! We eat family-style for most meals, which yields many benefits. Family-style meals are when the components of a meal are put on the table in bowls or plates so everyone can serve themselves. The bowls and/or plates are passed around and put back in the middle of the table where more can be eaten if desired. Not only does family-style enhance the experience of mealtime by mimicking a large family meal, but it also promotes responsive feeding and encourages better self-regulation. We try our best to accommodate most dietary preferences and restrictions, including allergies, vegetarian/vegan diets, dairy-free or lactose intolerant, and gluten-free. Counselors eat with their campers at all of our meals, which is a great opportunity to chat with your campers about their day and get some report writing material. Dinner ends with announcements and then it’s off to campfire!
Campfire – our evening program – always promises a different sort of excitement! Some nights may be team-building exercises, like the Code of Living, Blue Kerchief Ceremony, Ball of Yarn, or PMA, or maybe you’ll play some “get to know you games.” Other nights might include a Scavenger Hunt, Dutch Auction, Mario Kart, or a game of Capture the Flag. We also have a “Java Night” in some units, when you might show off your talent and skit practice for All-Camp Campfire! Regardless of the campfire (and whether you’re in camp or sleeping under the stars), we end each night with Friendship Circle. During this, each unit gets together and sings their unit song and taps.
Once Friendship Circle finishes up with taps, it’s time to call it a day and put the kids to bed, anywhere between 8:30PM and 10:00PM depending on the unit. Once you put the kids to bed, you may hang out in your counselor cabin, Powwow, or Chip-Inn, assuming your cabin has coverage. Counselors are off twice a week – once being a day off from 8AM to Midnight and once being a night off from 5PM to Midnight – and often leave camp to decompress, do laundry, and finish reports. Then we get up and do it all again in the morning!
Sundays at Cheley look a little different than the rest of the week. For starters, we sleep in until 7:15ish because breakfast isn’t until 8:00! Right after breakfast, each unit helps clean up camp in what we call a “Trash Sweep!” Then depending on the unit, you’ll either have your weekly staff meeting or have program sign-ups for the next week when campers choose which activities they want to do using our free-choice system. At Cheley, we love program sign-ups because our counselors always come up with the most creative ways to “sell” their program. Often selling program involves a song, dance, skit, and more. At 11:00 (unless you go early for choir!), all of 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 of a meal. For Sunday lunch, campers must turn in a letter home as their entrance ticket. After lunch, you’ll do the opposite of what you did in the morning: either sign-ups or have your staff meeting. And then it’s fun time! Whether it’s first Sunday (Play Day), second Sunday (All-Camp Campfire), or third Sunday (Lazy Sunday), Sunday nights and afternoons 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!