Around the Campfire

Year in Review 2023


We love hearing from our alumni, and love to know that you’re in touch with one another. Check out recent news from some of our alumni – staff, campers, and camp parents.

Wedding Bells

Angelica Salinas (staff 2015-2016) married Adam Basse on January 23rd at Hacienda Sac Chich in Acancéh, Mexico. Salinas worked as the Challenge Course Coordinator.

Griffith Greer (camper 2009-2014) married Austin Horne on January 28th in Houston, Texas. Greer, a third-generation camper, spent her summers in Chipeta and Senior Chipeta and was a Camper in Leadership Training.

Alicia Comer (camper 2010-2014) married Adam Gordon on April 22nd in La Jolla, California at the St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Greer spent her summers in Chipeta and Senior Chipeta and was a Camper in Leadership Training.

Emily Moss (camper 2005-2010, staff 2012-2015) married Mike Lefeber on September 3rd at the Lodge + Grove at Cheley Colorado Camps. Moss spent her summers in Chipeta, and Senior Chipeta and was a Camper in Leadership Training before returning on staff. She worked on Swing Crew and in Lower Chipeta as an Outcamping Counselor, General Counselor, and then Hiking Counselor.

Caitlin McGonagle (camper 2000-2008, staff 2010-2015) and Ben Dennis (staff 2011-2013, 2016) were married on September 9th at the Lodge + Grove at Cheley Colorado Camps. McGonagle spent her summers in Lower Chipeta, Chipeta, and Senior Chipeta and was a Camper in Leadership Training before returning on staff. She worked on Swing Crew, as a Wrangler in Lower Chipeta and Senior Chipeta, and was the Asst. Director in Senior Chipeta. Dennis worked as a Wrangler in Haiyaha and the Director of Boys’ Trail’s End. They both continue to work Cheley/Children’s Hospital Colorado Burn Camps Program.

Brigitte Bushnell (camper 2005-2007, staff 2014-2015) married Addison Cohen on September 15th at Della Terra Mountain Chateau in Estes Park, Colorado. Bushnell spent her summers in Chipeta and Senior Chipeta before returning on staff. She worked as an Outcamping Counselor and Hiking Counselor in Chipeta.

Rachel Goyette (camper 2002-2004, staff 2009-2013, 2020) married John Doyle on October 13th at Turner Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Goyette spent her summers in Senior Chipeta before returning on staff. She worked as a Wrangler, was the Asst. Director in Senior Chipeta, and was the Girls’ Camp Director for Trigger Bill Discovery Camps.

Jonathan Burk (camper 1996-2003, staff 2005-2007, 2009-2014) married Samantha Butler in September. Burk spent his summers in Lower Ski Hi, Ski Hi, and Haiyaha before returning on staff. He worked as a Wrangler in Ski Hi and Boys’ Trail’s End, was an Outcamping Counselor and General Counselor at BTE, the Asst. Director in Haiyaha, and Director of BTE. He has continued to work Cheley/Children’s Hospital Colorado Burn Camps Program.

Logan Manhart (camper 2012-2017) married his wife, Karina, on December 4th in Mina, South Dakota at Richland Church. Manhart spent his summers in Ski Hi and Haiyaha and was a Camper in Leadership Training.

Clare Wickman (camper 2012-2017) married Christian Babo on December 9th at Rush Creek Golf Club at Maple Grove, Minnesota. Wickman spent her summers in Chipeta and Senior Chipeta.

Future Campers

Kyle Smith (camper) welcomed daughter, River, in October 2022, and son, Jude, in August 2023. Their family looks forward to continuing the Cheley tradition started by family members, Bob and Ginny Stafford.

Amber Andregg (camper 1996-2003, staff 2005-2006) and Chris Snyder (staff 2006) welcomed their daughter, Charlotte Snyder, in April 2023. Another future camper!

Jason Van Hare (camper 2009-2013, staff 2015 & 2016) and his wife Grace welcomed their first child, daughter Magadalena Alice, in June. Alice being her great grandmother’s name and original Cheley camper: Alice Ann Bertha (a Chipeta and Senior Chipeta camper in the 50s). Bertha is doing well, traveling the Carribean in Nov., and planning for Cheley tuition for her great-grandchild. New grandma (Michele van Hare, née Schroeder) might have to come back as Crafts Coordinator in a few years!

Maggie Flint (family camper 2003 & 2005, camper 2006-2009, staff 2015 & 2017) welcomed August Joseph Carroll on July 9th at 12:06 pm. Flint, a third generation camper, spent her summers in Chipeta and Senior Chipeta before returning on staff as a Sports Counselor and the Asst. Director in Chipeta.

In Passing

Virginia “Ginny” Stafford (staff 1943-1947) passed away peacefully on October 7th at the Green Hills Health Care Center at the age of 96. During high school and college summer breaks, Virginia worked at Cheley Colorado Camps in Estes Park, Colorado where she met her future husband, Robert W. Stafford. Inspired by the impact of their Cheley experience, they sent their four children, ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren to camp, and later, with like-minded Cheley friends, helped establish the John Austin Cheley Foundation to provide “camperships.”

Carrying the Code

Todd Fronce (staff 1984-1990) is currently a High School Counselor at Hanks High School in El Paso, Texas. He is married to his wife, Dey, of 18 years, and they have two daughters. Sarah is a junior in high school, while Abby is a freshman. Fronce is enjoying life and work, and planning to retire in three years or so. This is his 33rd year in education!

Thomas “Todd” Hall and Margaret “Maggie” Hall, née Weatherly, (camper 1952-1957) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in October. On their first date, they discovered they had both been Cheley campers—overlapping years, but different terms. As they say, “It was meant to be.” They knew they shared the same value system. Their son, Thomas, was a camper and on staff, and now their granddaughters, Julia and Martha, are campers. They are octogenarians now, but still love to ride and relive their camp days through the eyes of their granddaughters. They send postagrams to them featuring our old camp photos. One of their counselors remarked that the girls enjoyed their postcards about “the olden days.” At this Hall laughed, “Funny! It seems like just yesterday that we were climbing mountains and horse packing!”

Former Cheley campers lit Cheley frienship candles to celebrate the 86th birthdays of Richard Bower (camper 1951-1954). Bower was a Haiyaha camper. Also present, via FaceTime, were Ann Ellis, née Bower, (camper 1978 & 1979) and Ellis’s close friend, Melody Catloth (camper 1975-1979).

Dotty Widmann, née Biram (camper 1966-1972, staff 1974-1976) wanted to share a memory: She remembers those all day rides with wrangler, Joan Borel, horseback riding through aspen groves and fir forests. They would have a little sack lunch in a paper bag and would put them in their feed bags tied to their saddles. At lunchtime, they would find a grove of aspen trees and tie their horses to the trees, loosen their saddles, pull out lunches, and give to their horses who would nuzzle up to them in appreciation. She remembers they would sit on the grassy meadow filled with wildflowers, eat lunch, and then lay back in the grass and just be still, looking up through the leaves into the sky. She shares, “that as one of the pleasant memories of life, laying there in the quiet and listening to the orchestra of the quaking leaves in the gentle wind. They made a music together and the color would flicker in a sea of changing greens against the blue of the sky. They seemed so connected to one another. Eventually the clouds would wander in and the daily afternoon rain would gently follow. We would only feel it lightly as the trees kept us from some of it. We would get up, put on our slickers, tighten the saddles, and head back to camp, singing harmonies, filled with the contentment of friendship and peace the aspen grove provided.”