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Camp Che-Na-Wah Counselor Toast 2023

On behalf of the counselors of Camp Che-Na-Wah, we would like to propose a toast to the Summer of 2023.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tour a young girl and her family around camp. As Weinstock bent down to explain how a daily schedule works, I began to choke up. Although I had no connection to this girl, I felt the urge to show her everything this one of a kind home has to offer. In this moment, I couldn’t help but wish that I was in her shoes, so naive and unaware of how my life would change.

This summer, instead of wishing I could go back in time, I took it as a chance to reflect on how lucky I am to have had this place and its people shape me. I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by camp, always looking forward to the next summer or my bunk’s next reunion. I eagerly anticipated family holidays and dinners, knowing I’d be able to talk about the magic of camp with people who just get it. But that’s what makes camp so special. Everyone who has sat in these very rings throughout Che-Na-Wah’s 100 years understands the indescribable ways camp has impacted us in a way that no one else can.

Every summer, you come to camp a year older and wiser but with the same optimism and eagerness for the summer ahead. You sit in these rings each year, continuously moving outward until you reach the outermost ring. Your position within the rings changes as your relationship with camp evolves. In the blink of an eye, the little girl once in the inner ring will be sitting in the outer ring asking herself where the time went.

When I first came to camp, I stared in awe at Bunk 22 leading marchdown and the spirit the waitresses exhibited decked out in green. I yearned to be an older camper living on the top of senior hill leading the camp. But, you always want what you can’t have. As a waitress I dreamed of turning back the clock, and holding the pinkies at the front of the marchdown line. Tonight, we urge you to appreciate what each stage of your camp journey has to offer, and to stay present, not wishing you were older or younger than you are right now.

We understand this advice is hard to follow because it’s only natural to look ahead and reminisce on the past. In bunk 20, the same age my campers are now, my counselors began encouraging my bunk to, “take a second to smile.” Although this phrase may be a tad cliche, it’s a lesson that I have held onto since. Each year, I have taught my campers that when they make the hike up senior hill, to turn around, look at the glistening lake, the picturesque mountains and smile. Taking a second out of your day to ground yourself and appreciate the little things that make this place so special is critical. Even if you may look a little silly, stopping in the middle of the hill to smile, I beg of you to embrace the moment you’re in, as time always slips away too fast.

To Barbara and the Wortman family,

Oh Barbie! Where do we begin? We first thank you for allowing us to grow up in this magical place and for your dedication to the traditions and beauty of camp that we all love. Becoming counselors has allowed us to experience a different side of you that is just as silly and light-hearted as we are. Making you smile and laugh is the most rewarding feeling. Thank you for being a shoulder to cry on, offering advice on all aspects of life, and for even helping me apartment shop. You have given us your unwavering support for the little things at camp that excite us, especially the flawn. Seeing you under the parachute, with a huge smile on your face is only a fragment of the endless amount of care you have for each individual here. We love you so much and a million thank yous will never measure up to how much you’ve given us.

To Jen,

When I was younger, Jen was in my bunk almost every night either calming me down from being homesick or reading Clementine until we fell asleep. In bunk 6, it felt like magic as Jen always appeared at the right time. As an 8 year old, I was never able to grasp how much effort you put into every camper. You have the ability to make a child feel so special and seen. On staff, I am constantly amazed at how you capture every birthday celebration, mothership family outing, and day to day moments that we hold on to forever. Thank you for everything you do for our campers and for us. I feel just as loved and cared for tonight as I did on those tough nights in bunk 6.

To Stock,

One of the best parts of being on staff has been creating a friendship with you. Even with all the rain this summer, you never called it a day, and devised creative ways to continue experiencing the joy of camp. You have been a constant source of advice, kindness and care throughout our 3 summers as counselors. Being able to work even closer with you as Group Leaders, has given us the opportunity to appreciate every detail that makes every camper’s days so special. Even when the ship has left the barn, you are always there to support and guide us to be the best counselors we can be. We respect and admire you so much and would be lost without you steering us in the right direction.

To Lenie,

As you’ve said before, the waterfront is the heart of camp, and to us, you are the heart of the waterfront. You have found a way to make the waterfront your own, and have ensured that every camper loves Lake Balfour. There’s a reason that campers’ faces light up when they see ski, BCS, or swim on their schedule every day. You lead the waterfront so passionately and teach every camper about the nature of lake Balfour and everything that makes it so special, including the baby squirrels that we’ve watched grow up. Beyond the waterfront, you have stepped in as someone any member of the staff can turn to. We love you.

To Jane,

When we see you around camp, it brightens our days. We know that you are always there to listen and help in any way you can. Thank you for all you do behind the scenes and for always being a smiling face and positive energy in the room. We love you and thank you beyond.

To Cami,

Although you came a bit later in the summer, it feels like you’ve been here since the start. Your positivity and energy came exactly at the right time. We are blown away by your ability to adapt to what this summer has thrown at you and you ran the atheltic department beautifully. Thank you for being our biggest cheerleader at every tournament and activity.

To Ramon,

No, no, no, we mean our camp dad. We look forward to your graphic tees every day and what dad joke you will crack next. We truly dont’ know how camp ever functioned without you. Whether it be a camper or counselor, you are there to listen to every concern we have. Your positive energy is contagious and it has been incredible to see your love for camp grow over the past two summers. Thank you for everything you do to keep this camp sane.

To Sarah,

We really appreciate all that you have done for each camper and counselor this summer. Beyond prioritizing our health, your dedication to connect with campers and the staff does not go unnoticed. Your hardwork and effort into keeping this camp happy and healthy is admirable. Thank you so much.

To Green,

You are 16 of the most unique, special and unbelievable people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. Your crazy, fun and upbeat personalities complement each other perfectly. It has been so special watching you guys go from two bunks last summer to just bunk 23 this summer. I know you have the labels of 23A and B, but the effort you have put into becoming just bunk 23 is admirable. I remember your reactions when you found out that you would be sharing your 22 summer. Several of you came to me hysterical, anxious about the unknowns of that summer. Now, looking at you as the Waitresses of 2023, it is apparent that becoming one bunk has completed your camp experience in a way that you never could have imagined. We know it’s scary to think about no longer living under the same roof, but you girls have already proven that four walls don’t make a bunk. By the way you carry yourselves around camp, and the way you are mentors to those older and younger than you, we are confident that you will each be an incredible addition to the pink team next summer. We are so excited to see you have an impact on your lucky campers the way that you have impacted us. We love you.

To Pink,

We all know that being a camp counselor is labeled as a job, but after being on the pink team I’ve realized that being a counselor is truly a gift. As counselors, you have the opportunity to change a camper’s life in the same way that your counselors did for you. You have the role of ensuring that the traditions and spirit of Camp Che-Na-Wah continue to live on. Looking at the counselors here today, I can say without a doubt that you have all put in the time and effort that these campers deserve. We’ve watched you encourage a J-row camper as they’re getting up on boom for the first time, have endless amounts of hula-hoop contests on the Flawn, and going the extra mile to make each camper feel that this is their second home.

After waitress summer, I felt that I had learned all that camp was about. Little did I know, I had only learned a very small portion of what it means to be a Che-Na-Wah girl. The past three summers on counselor staff, I’ve been lucky enough to watch not only my bunkmates but every person on staff impact the lives of so many campers as well as each other’s. At the beginning of the summer, we all know that there is an overwhelming sense of pressure for who you will be spending your day off with and who your co-counselors will be. Now, I’ve realized, and hope that you all have too, that the names on the paper do not matter. Being able to connect with counselors of all ages and backgrounds is what makes being on the Pink team so special. I have had the privilege of creating friendships with people who I had never spoken to and now cannot imagine living without. You should all be extremely proud of the time you have dedicated to making every camper realize the gift of Che-Na-Wah.

And to the waitresses of 2019, the people who we’ve grown up with for the past eleven years and who have helped us to become the best versions of ourselves. Each of you are the silliest, weirdest, and most loving people I know. It is crazy to think about how far we have come. From being split into bunks by our nationality, to starting a war in bunk 12 between Americans and Canadians, and finally to becoming one bunk as we led the camp during our 22 summer. Our combining was definitely not seamless but looking at the bunk we have become, I can’t help but smile. Each of us have grown together, accepting one another for our weird quirks and embracing what makes us all unique. You’ve been with us through our highest highs and lowest lows and we wouldn’t want it any other way. You’re our first text when something silly happens, when we need cheering up or just want to talk. This is just the beginning of the rest of our lives together. We can’t wait to travel the world and all live in a cul de sac and grow old together. We couldn’t love you more if we tried.


We all were lucky enough to experience Che-na-wah’s centennial anniversary this summer. As I sat in these same rings at the centennial campfire, surrounded by generations of Che-Na-Wah women, I realized that even if you leave the campfire’s rings, the traditions and experiences we’ve had in them will never leave us. Surrounding the rings were hundreds of women, all from different backgrounds who likely never would have crossed paths if not for Che-Na-Wah. But, for all of us, this place has touched and changed us in ways we are unable to put into words.

Now, I want to remind you all of that soon to be Che-Na-Wah girl learning how to read a schedule for the first time. She will probably come to camp nervous about being away from her parents and being placed in a bunk with four or five other strangers in a little wood cabin. She’ll have her first campfire where she’ll sit in this very inner ring and begin to absorb the traditions that we all know and love. She’ll grow up here with those strangers who will become family and learn to cherish this place as much as we do and then one day she’ll become a counselor passing the gift of camp on to the next generation. I know that some of us may not be sitting in these rings next summer and wish that we could be that girl, sitting in the inner ring for one last time. Although that may be true, my heart overflows with joy as I know that she is about to embark on this journey that will transform her life.

When you return to these rings next summer, we ask that you continue to take in every single second in this magical place. Continue to be kind to each other and to teach those around you the importance of this unique community that we are so lucky to be apart of.

To the Summer of 2024 and the most precious gift we’ve ever recieved. Thank you.

Sydney Greenberger & Calle Harwin, Waitresses of 2019



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