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Camp Che-Na-Wah Counselor Toast 2017

On behalf of the counselor staff, we would like to propose a toast to the summer of 2017.

(Taylor) Last night, the three of us sat down to write this speech.  We were in the canteen having trouble figuring out how to start it.  Although it may sound cliche, how were we supposed to put our feelings about this summer into words?  The last time the three of us sat in the canteen trying to poetically string words together was our 22 summer, when we were coming up with our slow.

(Jenna) From outside, senior hill was buzzing with the sounds of Emily’s guitar accompanies by the voices of bunks 20 and 23.  They were singing Vienna, and of course Sari’s voice could be distinctively heard amongst the group.  Listening and humming along, the three of us smiled, and then began to tear up at the thought of how amazing it would be to be huddled with our own bunk on a cold August night, listening to the voices of our best friends float over the mountains.

(Annie) But there we were, the three of us, on one of the final nights of this indescribably summer, feeling so incredibly lucky that by some fantastic twist of fate we were still at camp doing what we love.

(Taylor) As many of your know, last summer I took a brief hiatus from camp.  After 13 summers, I knew the transition would be difficult, but I was excited about trying something new… growing up… being a “real person”.  Guys, let me tell you: the real world sucks.  I sat on the train everyday, sweating through my business casual, dreaming about the breeze on the swim dock, singing in the dining room, and I’ll admit, Baco boys.  While sitting at my desk I would spend every free moment refreshing the camp website, torturing myself by trying to live vicariously through all of Jen’s amazing photos of the day.  There is no better job IN THE ENTIRE WORLD than being a camp counselor.  And in my opinion, it is one of the most important jobs one could have.  I mean, seriously, think about what you’ve done here this summer.  You’ve been caring for, nurturing, teaching, and inspiring the next generation of women, providing experiences and values that go way way beyond the instructional skills you’ve demonstrated over the past seven weeks.  What you’ve done here matters.  It matters to the girls in bunk 2 whom have relied on your to teach them how to be independent for the first time, and it matters to the girls in bunk 22 whom – although they may certainly consider themselves independent – will forever remember the time they needed advice from someone who has been on earth just a little bit longer than they have.  I can speak from experience: I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for my counselors.  When I was in bunk 2… 15 years ago, Melissa W taught me how to deal with my hair, so that I didn’t start everyday in tears trying to take my hair elastic out.  In bunk 12, Danielle R taught me the power of unconditional love, as she sat with me in the infirmary everyday for 2 weeks combing through that same mess of curls, pulling lice out of my hair in one of the worst cases Camp Che-Na-Wah has ever seen.  In bunk 16, as my body began to change and hormones became a thing, Paloma S taught me how important it was to always love myself.  In bunk 18, Dori A made sure that I went home and filled my iPod with real music, good music, music you wouldn’t hear on Z100 or Hits 1… camp music.  During my waitress summer, Sarah Z instilled in me the traditions of Che-Na-Wah, and how important it was to make sure they lived on forever; Charley K reminded me to smile- because life could be herd but she always got a laugh out of me; Hillary F made sure I treated my body like a temple; and Jaclyn H taught me that following my heart and beating to my own drum was way cooler than conforming to anyone else’s conception of cool.  That list just begins to scratch the surface.  The job of a camp counselor is never to be undervalued, and the camper-counselor relationships that form here are some of the most important relationships of our lives.  And this certainly isn’t one sided.  As counselors, we all learn so much every day from our campers about the importance of play, compassion, resilience, friendship, innocence and genuine happiness.  We can’t thank you girlies enough for making our jobs so much fun and so rewarding.  We love you.


(Annie) Bunk 23: To the Waitresses of 2017.  The nine of you share a love for each other, and a love for camp that is so unique.  Live these last few days to the fullest – in 10 months from now, these are the moments that will get you through being separated.  The best summers of your life are ahead of you.  Remember what makes camp special to you and pass that on – you are about the be given the opportunity of a lifetime: to instill in your campers what your counselors instilled in you – to pass on the CNW traditions that each of your embodies every single day.  Thank you for giving me a second waitress summer.  Please know that I am forever in your corner, and that the 9 of your will forever hold a place in my heart.  I can’t wait to watch you on staff next summer, and see what you accomplish.

(Jenna) Scientifically it’s been proven to take 66 days for a person to adjust and feel a sense of belonging to something.  Think back to the first time you stepped off the bus and entered the summer, and how it only takes a few nights to feel at home at Che-Na-Wah.  If I take a minute to look around at the people who are surrounding me now, my bunkmates, my former campers who are now my co-staff, my best friends, my new friends, the lake, the mountains, all of your who I love so dearly, it breaks my heart that I missed all of this last summer, but I can’t tell you how grateful I was to spend the past 5 weeks here.  I’ve know for the past 11 summers that this is my family, and the love I have for every single one of you is unexplainable.  I am honored to say that I confidently know the definition of what a proud counselor is – feeling excited when a camper accomplishes something, hearing each honor every night, a camper passing their deep water test, the changes that each camper has made from the beginning of the summer to the end, seeing my campers with their bunkmates who will soon grow to be their best friends in the world, and most importantly their passion for this place and devotion to each other.  To the waitresses of 2013 and 2014 – that you guys for making this summer unbelievable, and taking me in as part of your bunks.  You sincerely understand what camp is and how to keep traditions alive.  Each of your are so unique and special – you have made me more happy that I returned here this summer.  To my co-counselors who are my former campers – thank you for making this summer unforgettable.  I see so much of myself and what I thought you guys in both of you.  I could not have asked for a better team and stronger counselors to work hand in hand with.  To the 15s and 16s – who would have ever thought we would have been on staff together.  I am so thankful I had the opportunity to watch you guys grow up into amazing counselors and work with you all on staff.  Take advantage of your summers as counselors, and the opportunity to give back to this place, and by giving your campers the unforgettable memories that camp has given you.  We are so impeached by this place, and transformed into the people we are today.

(Annie) As an 8 year old first year camper, it’s hard to try to understand the impact and importance that camp will have on your life.  What I learned, is that if you accept what camp has to offer, you are in for the experience of a lifetime.  Che-Na-Wah is unique because it provides us all with a safe haven in which we are able to escape the outside world, are accepted for who we truly are, and are able to be ourselves.  Camp has provided me with the best friends I could ever ask for and has taught me more about myself than I can ever imagine.  There is something special about this place that makes coming back every summer easier, and leaving every summer harder.  For each of us, it is something different.  The connection that we all have to one another, and to the physical place that is camp, is unbreakable.  Camp has given each of us a group of people, whether its the bunk you grew up with, or the people you have met for the first time this summer.  But aside from them – look at the rings in front of you and behind you.  We are each other’s biggest supporters, role models, and confidantes.  There is no place in the world that is like Che-Na-Wah.  While here, there is no show, no face, no personas.  Here we have the ability  to be who we are with no filter, and embrace each others perfections and flaws.  Fourteen years ago, my parents gave me the greatest gift by giving me Che-Na-Wah.  Che-Na-Wah has shaped me as a person in every way possible, and I am the person I am today because of my experiences as a camper and as a counselor.  Thank you Che-Na-Wah for giving me my best friends, letting me be myself, and showing me what a true sense of belonging should feel like.

(Taylor) Bunk 22: Observing you guys support each other and build each other up over the last five years has been such a pleasure.  You guys have set such an amazing example for the future leaders of this camp, and I’m so proud of everything you’ve accomplished this summer.  You rock, never change.

(Annie) Leslie: Over these past five summers, you have consistently shown us what camp is about.  CNW H2O runs smoothly everyday because of the time and effort you put into each one of the docks.  On a more personal note, your always open door has always provided me with laughs, comfort, and a hug when I need it most.

(Taylor) Grobie: Thank you for putting a smile on our faces daily, even its just by wearing a goofy t-shrit.  From organizing intercamps, to being a fantastic softball coach, we can’t thank you enough for your support as athletic director.

(Jenna) Jane: Throughout my summers at camp, I’ve known without a doubt that I could count on you, whether I need to vent, gossip, or need a friend to turn to, you’ve always been there.  You truly have shaped staff into what we are today.  You have provided us with a shoulder to cry on and endless moral support.

(Annie) Stock: Working with you and learning from you has been an incredible opportunity.  The amount of time, effort, and planning that you put into each and everyday is appreciated.  Camp would not run the way it does without your meticulous attention to detail, and desire to make each day better than the last.  We’re so excited to keep watching Zack and Juliana grow, and watch them learn to love camp the way you do everyday.

Shari: Thank you so much for being someone who we can consistently rely on and trust.  You have spread your love and appreciation for this camp in a way that is so unique.  Our summers would not have been the same without your dedication and patience.  What you bring to camp each summer is something that can never be replaced, and will never go unnoticed.

(Jenna) Jen: You are an outstanding 2nd mother to us all.  Thank you for every memory captured, every reminder to put on sunscreen, your love for this place, and all that you do for us.  I am so grateful that I was able to turn to you during my 4 summers as a counselor and the extra hand your provided me with.  This place would not be the same without you and the effort and love you put into everything that you do.

(Taylor) Barbara and Allison: First of all, thanks so much for having us back this summer, and trusting us with such an important job.  The amount of lives that you’ve changed thanks to the incredible work that you do year round for camp is unfathomable.  We can’t thank you enough for giving us the best memories, friends, and ever-extending community.  Because of you we will always be apart of something so much bigger than ourselves… we love you.IMG_0278

With so much love,

Annie W, Jenna G, and Taylor H

Waitresses of 2012


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