Summer 2020 Update
We are incredibly thankful for the outpouring of support through emails, phone calls, contributions, and the many families who were able to transfer their tuition to 2021. We are anticipating record enrollment after having waitlists in all our units for 2020. As always, we never recommend waiting to enroll. While we are planning to operate at full capacity, we also want to let families know that if we had to reduce our capacity for any reason, we would do so on a first-come/first-served basis (i.e. time and date of registration).
The Cheley Staff
Dear Camp Families and Staff,
We hope this letter finds you well. Despite the numerous hurdles, we would find a path to camp after each obstacle. We have put together procedures to mitigate the risks, we were determined to do everything in our power to make this another magical summer, we wanted to be the light at the end of the tunnel, and as this giant machine is getting ready to take off, we are out of runway.
We are so sorry, but the time has come for Cheley Colorado Camps to cancel the summer of 2020. Even typing these words is difficult. Last fall, as we prepared to celebrate our 100th Summer, we had no idea what was coming. At the beginning, an advisor in the medical field said, “Wait as long as you can to make a decision, things are changing every day.” Unfortunately, the time has come and there are still too many unanswered questions for us to feasibly proceed.
Friday afternoon, plans were promising as we had a plan for testing, we were expecting to hear from Governor Polis and everything was falling into place. In the last two days, the environment has quickly changed. We are still waiting for finalized guidance from the State of Colorado, which was supposed to be shared with us at the end of the week. We have now been told it would be a week or two before we would even hear a decision from Governor Polis and we fear there will be a spike in cases. We can’t continue to wait nor can we ask our staff and camp families to wait. Testing, the unknown about how contagious it is among young people, the prevalence of asymptomatic cases, and so many other uncertainties make it impossible to proceed. As we make this decision, we take solace in knowing we gave it our best shot.
What drove us to pursue this lofty goal was the need for camp. We hear stories about children who desperately need the camp experience right now. Providing the Cheley Experience is how we know how to help in a time when so much help is needed. We wanted to be part of the solution. We are a family that figures out how to “make it happen” and a family that returns to our mission about building resiliency in a challenging environment.
Our team has been amazing. At every challenge, each one of them found a way around the obstacle. When Wilderness First Aid training was canceled, we found a new trainer. When dining room capacities were reduced, we adjusted the plan. We solved the problem at hand. We have written protocols, modified programs, adjusted the numbers…stuff that camp directors do every summer. These solutions were the path to providing the camp experience this summer. And yet there are still many solutions needed to feel certain to successfully proceed.
Our seasonal staff are incredible. You believe in our mission and our desire to bring an aspect of normalcy to our campers’ lives. We are sorry that we can’t continue because we realize you’ve made plans to be here, and that this is yet one more thing that has been upended in your life. Thank you for sticking with us and making sacrifices to try and make working here possible. Any of you that were planning on being here this summer, we extend our job offer to you for next summer.
Our camp families have been our inspiration. We realize this has been a challenging time for each of you. Almost overnight, all of our lives changed. Parents had to balance the jobs of teacher, coach, parent, spouse and employee. Children had to deal with so many losses. The stress in families with so much uncertainty has taken its toll. The calls and emails of support, concern, and frustration have poured in after each update. Most of us have been confused as to how to proceed with this virus. Some of you were pushing alongside us, and others were frustrated and disappointed by our pursuit of the summer. To each one of you and any staff who may have felt similarly, we apologize and ask for forgiveness and understanding.
We prayed for strength, support, and guidance. “Adapt and proceed” and “may your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears” were our mantras. No different than technical climbing or hiking a challenging peak. You get to a tough spot and you adjust your route, or you take a water break and re-evaluate. Unfortunately, we have come to the part of the hike where the storm clouds are looming, and we can’t find a route that we can put our trust in. It is time to turn back and attempt the peak another day.
What does this look like for Cheley Camps? We are not completely sure. We have kept our eye on the peak and dedicated our energy to that goal. We are going to take a few days to connect with our camp families to say thank you for believing in us. We may be able to lead some horseback rides, offer some climbing, or allow you to come fish in the pond. Or we may just take the summer off. We will keep you posted on what we decide.
This past week after a frustrating afternoon, Jeff was on the phone with his family. It was bedtime and he was saying goodnight to each boy. When Jackson, their oldest son, was done saying goodnight, he said, “I am praying for you dad.” It was the highlight of an overwhelming, emotional week. He was probably praying for us to make it work. However, sometimes we must stop long enough to be able to hear our inner voice even when we don’t like the answer.
In closing, we are grateful to each one of you. Hopefully, our commitment to figuring this out serves as an example of determination rather than hard-headed stubbornness. We have learned so many lessons over the past two months that we will have chapel talk material for years. We are worried about the impact we are seeing on our children, our families, and our world. This impact motivates us to dedicate ourselves to an amazing Summer of 2021. We look forward to connecting with many of you in the next few months and celebrating our 100th Summer next year. We will be in touch in a few days with the options for our camper families.
We will not be hosting a zoom webinar this evening.
Jeff Cheley and Brooke Cheley-Klebe