On behalf of the counselors, those that used to be campers, and those that love camp, we would like to make a toast to the summer of 2016.
(Rachel): I started camp in 2002. I was 6. My bunk likes to say my parents shipped me off, the truth is I begged them to go. I got to camp and cried every night. I didn’t share my food. The people around me were strangers with completely different backgrounds. They had weird habits, like putting ketchup on eggs. By the end of that summer I finally knew the words to camp songs, I could waterski, I began to share with my bunk, and I cried because I was going to miss the sound of rain on the roofs. I had learned it all.
(Sophie): I soon became bunk 23. While I went into that summer with the excitement of someone who’s about to be on the green team, it was backed by intense dread for the end. I was scared this signified the end of our camper summers, the end of all the camp we had experienced together as a bunk. What is camp if not spent in a bunk with my best friends? I soon learned the gift of that summer. It solidified and deepened our love and connection to such a degree that it gave us the strength and will to disemminate all that we knew and loved and learned. It began to feel right to start giving back to this place that had given me everything. What I really didn’t understand was how much I would get and continue to learn.
(Charlotte): As a counselor I came to camp a year ago, confident that I knew everything my job had entailed. I did think that this was only a job and I knew I had to do it well. Through my 2 summers here I learnt that this is not just a job, this is a family. Not knowing the way it worked was hard, but the kids and the other counselors were here to help me, to take me in, to show me the way. Wanting to do well for myself was no longer the job, it was wanting to do it well for others, for my kids. I wanted to make them proud of themselves for achieving what they thought was impossible. My second summer is now over and I proud to say I know songs in the dining hall, I know how to lead, but more importantly how to teach. Thank you all for accepting me into your family.
I reallly thought I knew it all over the winter, then everything changed. The resilience of my bunk was once again tested, and through a quick decision 8 of us were back for our 4th year counselor summer. I felt my life crumbling outside of these mountains but kept smiling and telling myself I could do this. One wednesday when smiling got to be too hard, I looked up and found myself staring at 8 extremely familiar faces. I learned my most important lesson my 4th year summer at camp. I learned what it meant to admit you needed help, and what it was like to have family there for every step of it. To my 12s, my first in line, the absolute loves of my life. Thank you for being everything stable in my existence, even when you’re convinced youre not. You are the people I want to tell everything to, even when I feel like I cannot get it out, or when I get too cheesy. I was always afraid of this day because I thought it would all be over after this. We’d split up and so would our jokes and memories for some reason, but I am more sure now than I have ever been to comfortably say it could never be over. You’re the people I plan to live with and for the rest of my life. I don’t need to tell each of you how incredible you are, just look to your campers who adore you and you’ll hear a fraction of what I think of you everyday of our lives. It’s not that the words I love you are too simple, but it’s that even in this extremely confusing time you are the people who taught me its most true definition. Thank you, I would not be half the person I am without any of you in my life, I am so lucky, and I take non of you for granted. We have an angel you guys, he’s up there watching right now, and I know he’d be so proud.
To the waitresses of 2013, Kaytlyn you were absolutely a waitress in 2013. I don’t care what anyone tries to tell you, I saw you there. Thank you guys for another unforgettable summer. Thank you for being the people I can talk to, cry on, share silence with, and share a spoon with. Thank you for being my people. Thank you for showing me and reminding me what it is to be empathetic, to love unconditionally, to simultaneously be an individual while being part of a larger whole. Thank you for making fun of me, because it’s done with such intense attention to detail, which can only come from a place of love and care for the target. Thank you for loving me and each other despite and for our flaws. You teach me every summer and everyday what it is to be a friend, and just how special that is. Thank you for being my first and last reason for loving and returning to this place. We’re in it for the long haul, guys, so, sorry, but we’re sttuck together, for, like, ever. Get ready for Syd’s Bachellorette party! I love you. I really, really love you. Thank you for giving me the greatest gift of my life.
To all the co-counselors. I don’t think I can thank you enough for being at my side through everything. We work as a team, as sisters, as co-parents, so that we can be good role models to our campers, our children, our friends. What you don’t realize is that you are all my role models as well. I learn what it is to be a good parent, and person from each of you. The support you’ve given us through everything this summer has been incredible. Thank you all for that and so so much more, we owe this incredible summer if not entirely than mostly to each of you. Your campers are just an example of who each of you is and you should be so proud.
To green ’16. We know where you’re at right now, it really feels like you’re done, but if you just listen to the three of us, you’ll realize how much you have left to go. It’s your turn now to begin giving back, to teach the camp and campers not only how special you are, but how special this place is to you. Never forget that every sunset is different, every day has its own challenges, but we’re all here to help you in your own journeys, and hopefully help you see the rewards. We hope one day you look back at your campers with the same pride we look at you now. Don’t be anything but original, and never forget we’re always here to support with complete understanding of everything you feel—we were here too. We love you.
To 22: This summer, and the opportunity to be your counselor for a second time, have been two of the greatest gifts of my camp career. It has been nothing short of a privilege to watch you live this summer. Of course I’m talking about Blue and Gold and the over-the-top incredible job you did in rising to the occasion and leading one of the most fun, competitive, fair, and well-rounded color wars this camp has seen in a while. I want to take nothing away from what you did when the whole camp was watching, but the truly remarkable thing is how you lived each and every camp day, with unconditional love for each other, for camp, for every moment of this summer. You have inpsired and touched my soul in a way I never thought possible, and you’ve had a deep and lasting impact on every camper and counselor at Che-Na-Wah. I thank my lucky stars every day that I got a bunk like you. You guys are what camp is all about. You literally ooze camp. Please continue to love wholly and deeply, laugh purely, share freely, and please, please, please, stay so weird. I know you will. Thank you for giving me the best summer of my life, and for giving my love for camp a whole new meaning. I love each and every one of you for literally ever, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are so awesome.
To Barbara, Jane, and Allison. Thank you for making camp happen. Without you, literally none of this would be. Barbara, thank you for your patience, understanding, compassion, and for actually always knowing what to say. Jane, thank you for your generosity, for being our ally, and of course, for your keurig. We really love you. Allison, thank you for fostering fun, new, and inclusive games and activities, even if sometimes your athleticism is a little bit of a reach for some of us. We love and appreciate you all so much.
To Grobie. Thank you for your humor, your knowledge of movies, your music, and your t-shirts. Truly. Thank you also for all that you do in making our jobs easier and for preserving and teaching all the activities that make us feel like campers again. Thank you for your wisdom and your understanding. We are so lucky that we get to work with and under someone like you. Thank you, we love you.
To Stock. You’ve spent the entire summer telling me how strange it is watching me grow up.Well, now i’ts my turn. It has been equally as amazing watching you grow from a counselor to a group leader to an administrator, to a wife, and a soon-to-be mother of 2. JP and your future child are so lucky to have this force of nature prepare them for life. Thank you for writing schedules that make us realize just how lucky we are. Thank you for reminding us to keep the beat by clapping in the dining room, and thank you thank you for helping me figure out my way the past 15 years. We love you.
To Jen. Thank you for being my best friend at camp this summer. You are truly nothing short of a superhero, and we notice it and we appreciate it. Your love for all things camp pervades everything you do, and your level-headedness, calm, and humanity are really a gift to all of us. Thank you for thanklessly working so hard to capture the moments that we’ll all look back on, and thank you for being our wise and witty rock. We love you so much.
To Shari. First off thank you for producing Marly and Mia. It cannot be easy to try and entertain 12 sixteen year olds, but somehow you manage to do it so flawlessly. On top of that you are also one of our best friends, and we really dont get enough time with you in camp to tell you just how great you are. Thank you for bringing a sense of humor to all that we do, and for sharing our load as counselors so much of the time, we love you.
To Leslie. I would love to tell you you’re the older sister I never had, but you’re not. So let me tell you that if I get to grow up and become half the woman you are, I would be so happy. It is no surprise to me that when we first met our common factor was discussing how much we love camp. You live and breathe this place and it shows so clearly in everything you touch. I hope you know that you are my role model for everything in my life and my guide post for so much that happens. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, for this camp, for my friends, and for so much more.
To Adva. Thank you for all you creativity. It has inspired our inner artistic ability to bloom. The arts program would not have reached the level of performance that it did this summer without you.
To Susan. Thank you for always being there for everyone when we were ill and to lend a helping hand. Even if it was something little we knew we had you there to help us.
To the campers, the next generation. You can cry, we’ve all felt that pit in your stomach, the hurting of your heart when it’s all over. But know that there is so much left for you to learn. There is so much more time for you all to grow, mature, understand than even I realize. Treat this home with nothing but kindness, when it gets to be too much here, look out to the lake and realize where you are. When it gets to be too much at home, close your eyes and take deep breaths, remember the smell of cut grass, sunscreen on a hot day, the sound of the gravel under your feet. Stay grounded. To this place, thank you for making me grow up, even when I refused to, thank you for being the one thing that doesn’t change, and instead allows me to. Thank you for making me the person I never thought I would be when I came off that bus 15 years ago.
Love, Rachel K., Sophie R., and Charlotte Q.