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Dearest Chippies,

I write to you tonight in disbelief and denial. Just like that, the final day of #TheRanch2022 has come and gone. This summer has truly raced by. It feels like just yesterday that the buses were rolling into the Circle Drive—campers running into each other’s arms; comfort and familiarity and enthusiasm rushing across their faces as the feeling of home settled back in. The past 8 weeks have been filled with laughter, growth and love, and I have no doubt that campers and staff alike will board the buses tomorrow morning with endless positive memories from this summer—more than enough to carry them through the next 10 months, until we are all back together once again here at CRC. But before I lean too far into the sentimental, let’s discuss the details of the day…

I guess if there has to be a final day of the summer, today was a pretty good one. The morning was filled with the usual cleaning and packing. Campers helped one another zip up their duffels and worked together to carry them across camp. We had a spirited lunch, where everyone fit in one final rendition of their cabin song. And then, as packing wound down, everyone got in their fanciest outfits to prepare for Final Banquet. The festivities began at the Center Fire Circle, where the Lakeview campers got up and read their final Lakeview speeches. They spoke eloquently about how they have grown over their camper years, and all the intangible things they have learned at camp and taken into the world. I always love these speeches because of the thoughtfulness that goes into writing them. There is a sense of pride, love and appreciation that emanates from each camper as they speak. And the same is reflected back in the faces of the campers who are listening. This Lakeview was an exceptional group of campers, and their reflections were a beautiful way to close out the summer.

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After the speeches, we moved the party to the South Field. We had a delicious gnocchi dinner, accompanied by music, laughter and reminiscing. Activities presented awards for Most Valuable, Most Improved and Most Determined, and each was accepted with pride by deserving campers sporting ear-to-ear smiles. The final awards of the night were for Miss Rodeo and Honor Camper. Miss Rodeo was awarded to Sophia G, who has put in a great deal of hard work down at the stables this summer, and who tonight she was deservingly recognized for her dedication and improvement. This award was followed by Chippewa’s biggest honor, Honor Camper. A huge congratulations to Sadie G, whose kindness, compassion and love of CRC is apparent is all she does. She is a role model, a leader and a great example of the qualities we value here. We are proud to recognize Sadie in this capacity and are forever grateful to all the amazingness she brings to Chippewa. Congrats, Sadie, and thank you for all that you add to our CRC community!

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Following the award ceremony, we all headed to the North Field for the CRC effigy. One of my favorite parts about camp is that through our love for this place and all that it stands for, we fall into a level of comfort and routine that can sometimes overshadow the marvel of it all. But in reality, the Chippewa experience is anything but routine. Tonight, while standing there in the North Field, arm over arm, reciting the creed, that reality washed over me, along with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the What is going on? moments, the This feels more important than work moments, the That made a difference moments. For the moments of witnessing and experiencing laughter and tears and growth and everything in between. I guess what I’m trying to say is that #TheRanch2022 did not disappoint. And I think I speak for everyone who was in that tent tonight when I say that.

And with this, I close out my 2022 Sari Diaries journey. It has been a blast sharing the past several Thursdays (and today, a Wednesday) with you all, and I look forward to the many more we will share with one another in the summers to come.

Soph Aloaf