The Sari Diaries- Thursday 8/10/17

Wednesday, August 09 by Sari Hirsch

Dear Chippies, Parents, Family and Friends,

I apologize for the delay of this post- I just wanted to make sure that I was able to give this concluding version of The Sari Diaries 2017 the justice it deserves. And now, after a twelve hour slumber, I am officially feeling the weight of the finality of the summer…and I think I can give this last TSD a go…I hope you enjoy!

So it has come, and it has gone. #TheRanch2017 lived up to all of its hype- it went far beyond expectations and as I sit at my desk, in the midst of a camp empty of the spirit that makes it live, it is hard to feel anything but sadness. I know I am not alone in my feeling that that I would give a lot to get two more months of this summer. Not to erase or relive the last two, but to actually get two more…to continue on with what was nothing less than the most incredible summer ever.

This summer flew by- seemingly faster than we always say they go…I literally don’t know where the time went. But now that I have more than a couple minutes to reflect, I am looking forward to remembering the little things…the office hangouts, the activity accomplishments I witnessed, the camper-counselor connections, the camper friendships and bonds that grew, and the soft-skills gained. A summer at Chippewa is so much more than what is on the surface- so much more than the waterskiing and climbing- and that is really what I want to focus on right now.

On Wednesday night, before banquet, we had our Final Campfire. The Lakeview campers had an opportunity at this campfire to give their “Camper Farewell.” It was their chance to address the camp, and to share a little bit about their camp experience. To listen to these fifteen year-old campers, who we have had the honor to watch grow up, speak with such passion about Chippewa was heart warming. They spoke about their time as younger campers…some were homesick, some came for the horses and some came to go on an adventure with an already best friend. They told us what their camp experience turned into…the unexpected friendships that formed, the leaders they became, the new activities they tried and the home that they found. To a person, they shared with us what their counselors mean to them…they are their summer moms, their role models and their friends. While each Lakeview camper had their own style, the message was the same…cherish this place and the people here- it is special.

And then, their counselors had an opportunity to speak. They got to the podium already in tears, but they were able to articulate to the camp community and to their campers just how extraordinary their campers are. They expressed the pride they feel in having been a part of their camp experience and they thanked their campers for being such a significant piece of their own camp experiences. It was emotional to listen to but it really rung true to me, and I know to so many others.

This group of Lakeview campers, as we have told them time and again, has truly been impressive. They have grown into just the people that we want our younger campers to look up to and emulate. It seemed as though they came into their Lakeview summer on a mission to lead this camp in spirit, in enthusiasm, in appreciation and in kindness. And they did just that- we could not have asked for a better group to demonstrate just how special CRC is, and what kind of impact it can have on an individual’s life. They dove into their last summer as campers and helped create a vibe here that is literally palpable. We talked about it all summer- that there was just a feel of the summer that was even more positive than normal- and I genuinely believe that these Lakeview campers had a big part in making that happen.

After the campfire, we had an incredible Final Banquet…campers enjoyed delicious food while spending their last meal with their cabinmates and counselors. When the eating finished, we had an awards ceremony. Staff from each activity got on stage to present plaques which honored different campers. Awards were given out for most improved, most determined, most valuable, most enthusiastic and so much more. The final award was for Honor Camper, which went to Sydney F (a huge congratulations to her!). Campers were excited to receive their own awards but my favorite part of this segment of the night was to watch their friends cheer for them. There was actual excitement and pride on the faces of others as campers headed to the stage to be honored. And that’s really what it’s all about…of course, it is nice to win an award, but when you feel actual happiness for those you care about when they win an award, that is amazing.

And then we all headed to the North Field to see the CRC effigy burn and to sing our final creed of 2017. It was raining but since “Strong is the New Pretty” is one of our mottos this summer, we didn’t mind. Not to mention, the emotions of everyone’s impending departure was really the focus…we weren’t going to let a little rain stop us from our closing tradition. As I sang the creed surrounded by three hundred people who each hold a special place in my heart, I couldn’t help but develop that knot in my throat…it began to feel real…camp was actually coming to an end…ugh.

But then, it’s almost like I forgot about it because I was so distracted. The energy went from melancholy to full fledge excitement about the last night festivities that would ensue for each cabin. In the office, it was almost like a rotation- different cabins in and out throughout the night. There was bonding, reminiscing, eating, talks of CRC Academy and planning for future summers with various members of the most special community ever- #TheRanch2017.

Eventually though, the buses arrived, campers reluctantly loaded them and we waved goodbye to the campers, to some staff, but mostly to a summer that will never-ever be forgotten by anyone who was lucky enough to be a part of it. The silver lining in all of this is that camp life is cyclical- we are already looking forward to the summer of 2018- it will be hard to beat or even match the energy and happiness of this summer, but somehow, some way, I have a feeling we will be able to make it happen!

I guess that’s all…in the end, I wish I could better sum-up this summer, and that I could better express my feelings of grattitude and pride for the people who called CRC their home this summer…but this is it for me…for now. Thank-you #TheRanch2017…you were good to us all!

Happy Camping and Love,