Dear Chippies, Parents, Family and Friends,
It’s rare that I start an entry already feeling emotional. But that’s where I am at right now. Emotional in a good way…I am full of gratitude, nostalgia, love, appreciation, adoration and pure joy. As many of you know, this is my thirtieth summer at CRC and yesterday we celebrated that milestone. Over the past thirty years, I have been quite fortunate to enjoy a number of special occasions- Ten Year in 2002 with four of my very dear camp friends, Fifteen Year in 2007 with the camp dog, Maggie, and Twenty Year in 2012. All of those were special and they were fun, no doubt. Yesterday though hit different…maybe it’s because I’m getting old and I suppose at this point, I’m a “real adult.” But I think the difference really lies in the meaning of yesterday- it was a day when I felt celebrated and appreciated for sure, but more than that, it was a day when I got to step back and feel the significance of Chippewa…what it means to be a Chippy and what is important about being a member of this community. As I mentioned in a brief thank-you to the camp last night, I really didn’t want a big to-do for my thirty year. And not because I didn’t want the attention, or because I am so humble that I didn’t think thirty years was worth commemorating, or even because I didn’t want others having to take the time to create something that took such a significant amount of effort. It was because I want the campers at Chippewa to be able to bask in every moment they are here and I want them to have as much camp as they possibly can…and I certainly didn’t want to take a second of that away. What I saw yesterday though, thanks to those who put such a great deal of thought and energy into creating the day, was that at this point in my camp career, it is not mutually exclusive to provide campers with uninterrupted camp amazingness and still feeling celebrated and loved. And here’s how that happened…
In the morning, campers woke up to a song…as they do each morning. But the song was a CR-Singers rendition of “Sari is the Best.” Talk about feeling special right from the start! There was then a Seven Wonders Quiz, which included trivia about my camp and out of camp life. When I got to my office, I found an envelope and t-shirt. The envelope contained a note welcoming me to the special day with an explanation of what was to come and the t-shirt was an awesome piece of Chippy gear commemorating the day. Throughout the morning we had regular activities…something that as all of you know, I cherish. Campers enjoyed the ropes course, made delicious cookies in cooking, shot golds in archery and obviously made great strides at skiing. Shout-out to Layla L who lifted a ski for ten seconds and Ivy R who dropped a ski and stayed up on one for ten seconds…congrats, girls! And then lunch was amazing…like I couldn’t have dreamt up a better energy to start off the afternoon. Cabin cheers were plentiful and we had an incredible round of Tan & White cheering (in preparation for Capture the Flag today). There were some oldies sung that brought me back to my camper days (Technicolor Whites & Tan Cats) along with some newer songs that I am still trying to learn. The spirit in the lodge was just perfectly intense!
From the lodge, the entire camp headed up to Main Street (the playground area) in anticipation of learning about the afternoon festivities. After a few minutes of excitedly trying to figure out what was to come, it began. And by “it” I mean a parade! There were golf carts, gators, trucks and trailers themed and decorated driving down the main drag of camp as the University of Illinois (go Illini!) Fight Song played. There was a basketball themed “float,” the red truck was painted neon green (my favorite color), the canoe trailer became an actual canoe floating in water because I live in The Lost Canoe, participants were holding sticks with my face (young and old versions) and throwing candy into the crowd, and last but not least, Ruth was driving the caboose with my parents on the back of her purple golf cart…I had no idea they were coming! The whole parade was insanely well thought-out, it was cute and it was funny. A full-on-legit CRC Production!
At the conclusion of the parade, Cliff announced that the afternoon would include some camper favorites…all-camp tubing AND all-camp Cathy’s! Naturally, the crowd went wild…Cathy’s and tubing- what could be better?! The afternoon was filled with elation…campers telling stories of their tubing adventures and reporting back about the best ice cream ever from Cathy’s. I loved every second of walking around camp and hearing the happiness in the voices of these Chippies! After a BBQ dinner, everybody got ready for the carnival. The instructions were to dress like me…backwards hats, neon green clothing, Illinois gear, basketball jerseys, fanny packs, mismatched shoes and Chippy apparel were encouraged. Some campers took this to an extreme- shout-out to Charlotte H, Dylan K, Evelyn L and Bailey F for really nailing down my style! The carnival itself was awesome…a wonderful playlist blared across the South Field as campers played a mini basketball game, competed in a football throwing accuracy contest, ate an amazing cake made by Jen the Baker, guessed the number of Jelly Bellys in the jar and played other fun carnival-ish games. They collected tickets to win prizes and even had a costume contest at the end…congrats to Maddie B for winning!
To end the evening, we all headed to the theater where there was a wonderful video played, which included both current and past Chippies…my heart was full! After a couple of speeches, I was given an amazing book full of notes and photos from generations of Chippies…my own counselors and cabinmates from back in the ‘90s, my campers from the early 2000s, and from tons of campers and staff since then. Before everyone headed back to their cabins for the night, as I mentioned earlier, I had the chance to thank #TheRanch2023 community…I’m not sure I nailed it as I had nothing planned, but hopefully all these Chippies know how grateful I am for the love that they showed. Despite not having the perfect words to show my gratitude, I am happy to give it another go here…to all of you reading.
Thank you, thank you! Thank you for making me feel so special, and for reminding me what an exceptional community I have the privilege to be a part of. Thank you to the campers for not only saying, “Happy 30 Year” over a thousand times throughout the day, but also for enjoying the day…for being carefree and happy and loving your camper lives. I love that yesterday more than ever, I got to watch that and feel the bliss seeping out of your pores. Thank you to the staff for being a part of the execution of the day- it ran flawlessly and I certainly know that it took each and every one of you…thank you! Thank you to Jorie Weiss who actually created a logo for the occasion…I love it and appreciate it! Thank you to my parents for giving me the gift of camp, and for making the trek up to share this day with me. And to a couple of friends who surprised me off camp…there are no words to express how thankful I am for your friendship! Thank you to Lizzy, Leah B and Sophie F…I know the role you played and I hope you know that I adore you all. Thank you to Soph-Aloaf, Lisa and Cliff. There was not a detail that wasn’t thought of…I know you don’t have a single spare minute, so I don’t know how you pulled this off- I am in awe the effort you put into making the day perfect. From beginning to end, I cannot imagine a better day, so THANK YOU! And thank you for all of you who have lived at CRC over the course of the past thirty years, it is because of you that I am here today doing what I love in the very best place on Earth…thank you for being a part of this journey!
If I haven’t made it clear, my bucket is full. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of the Chippewa community for the past thirty years…through all of the different lenses I have seen CRC through, one thing remains constant- the connections. The people make this place and that has been true for the last thirty years, and I am confident it has been true since 1946…how lucky am I that I have gotten to make it my life’s work to be a part of this place with these people. I can’t wait for the next thirty :).
Thanks for reading this indulgent entry…more to come later today about our Sunday at #TheRanch2023!
Happy Camping and Love,