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Dear Chippies, Parents, Family and Friends,

How did we get here?! We just finished the Final Staff show, and while it was awesome, it was also a significant reality check that we only have two full days left at #TheRanch2021. Today definitely lived up to what a final Monday at camp should be- it was action packed, achievement filled, just emotional enough, and obviously SO CHIPPEWA. Here’s how it went…

This morning, we sadly said goodbye to about thirty campers and staff members. They had to leave a bit early for school obligations, and while we understand their need to depart today, it was a gut wrenching preview of what is to come on Thursday morning. Leading up to first period, the top of the hill was crowded with teary-eyed campers and counselors. We always say that it is a good sign when we are sad at the end of the summer, and when it feels nearly impossible to say goodbye, it is indicative of something good- a summer that is difficult to leave. And I think this summer, we are feeling that challenge a little bit extra…not only are we going from the feeling of the freedom we are currently experiencing at camp to the reality of masks and other COVID protocols at home, but we are also leaving a community of connections that I truly believe are even deeper than in a typical summer. Following a year-plus of isolation for so many, the relationships forged and grown at camp this summer carry some extra weight, and leaving the people with whom we have become so close will not be easy. The other day, a Lakeview camper was sad for her friend to leave. I told her that she didn’t need to worry because she would see that friend at home, and her response was, “But it isn’t the same!” And she is correct- as much as camp friendships transcend the confines of CRC, there is something different about being with your camp friends AT camp. This makes today’s departures, and the prospect of the mass exodus from this place on Thursday tough to swallow! All of this said, despite some morning sadness, we forged on to a day full of regular activities and fun :).

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After a fantastic first period, the entire camp met at the Center Fire Circle for what Cliff explained as a “reset.” But what the whole camp didn’t know was that he and Scarlett C were in on a little something together. While Cliff was talking with the camp, Scarlett raised her hand to ask about cabin clean-up scores from yesterday. When Cliff broke the news to her that we didn’t have them, she was very sad…her cabin had worked hard and wanted their score! In an effort to make things right with Blackfoot, Cliff asked what he could do to make it up to them. Scarlett proposed that she arm wrestle him…and if she won, there would be an ALL CAMP CATHY’s. At first Cliff turned her down- it was too crazy of an idea. But then he realized that there was no way Scarlett could beat him in arm wrestling, so he decided to humor her. He made an announcement that he would absolutely not let her win. And then, Scarlett surprised him…she was much stronger than he anticipated. Mid-way through the match, Scarlett asked if some friends could help her. At that point, five friends jumped in to help Scarlett secure the very important victory. The camp went crazy as this was a moment lots of campers have been talking about for quite some time…the All Camp Cathy’s was actually happening!

We then proceeded with second period, lunch, and regular third, fourth & fifth periods. We enjoyed Cathy’s during snack time…a very cute scene at the playground as everybody was loving their ice cream. Throughout the five periods of activities, there were a number of exciting accomplishments. For starters, Stephanie S officially became a member of the gold club! At fishing, Sophie B caught a cute little fishy. And on Dam Lake, lots and lots of levels were passed behind the ski boats. Sydney J, Payton G & Mallory S lifted for ten seconds, Lillian K, Annabelle K & Mia G crossed the wakes on two skis, Blake R, Justine S & Mikki L got up and around on two skis, and Cayla B & Chloe C dropped a ski. Needless to say, it was an insane day at waterskiing!

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During snack, Blake R came into the office because she “had to tell us about her day.” She proceeded to let us know that she got up on skis, sailed on her favorite boat with her cabinmates Naomi R & Noa C, caught a fish, and to top it all off, she got her favorite flavor- mango sorbet from Cathy’s! One of the best parts about spending a decent portion of the day in the office is interactions like that…campers stopping by to excitedly share news from their days.

Tonight’s evening program was Final Staff Show. Similar to Opening Staff Show, this is an opportunity for the staff to show off their talents on Sophie’s Center Stage. Age groups performed their infamous lip syncs and some made up brand new dances. As the CITs were up on stage, Ana L and Ruthie L were in the front row dancing, singing and seemingly having the time of their lives. Cliff played the guitar and sang “Right Field,” and the whole camp joined in. Peppered throughout the evening were the classics- “Your Man,” “Move This,” and “She’s in Love With A Boy.” It was amazing to watch the campers singing and even dancing along. Some of these have been performed at Staff Shows since 1999ish…kind of crazy that they still live on! Staff Show ends with Mr. Rogers, which is always a favorite. Counselors poke fun at their campers for silly things that happened throughout the summer. Campers LOVE when their counselors are visited by Mr. Rogers on stage…there was a lot of laughter coming from the audience, but to be honest, I really had no idea what all of those inside jokes were about!

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After all the fun and games, we sang “Today Is,” which is always a tear-jerker…you know, everybody feels those feels when we sing “Thursday, Bye Bye…” And we concluded with the entire camp singing, “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Friends,” and “Jet Plane.” As the theater cleared out, there were some lingering counselors who I overheard describing their cries as “grateful crying.” I love that…it is such a good way to describe what we are all feeling. Of course there is sadness in leaving camp, and knowing that we have ten months before we are back here together. But at least as much as that, the tears are coming from a place of gratitude for having a place that is so hard to leave…a place that we can come and be the best versions of ourselves, and a place that we can be our truest selves with people who appreciate us for just that.

Alright, enough sappiness for tonight…tomorrow will be the final Happy Camping and Love podcast of the summer, so check it out. I am hoping to have lots of guests of all ages- it should be fun! But that’s all I got for now- goodnight and thanks for reading!

Happy Camping and Love,