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Dear Chippies, Parents, Family and Friends,

Today is Sunday…and Sunday is Chippy Awards…the beginning of the end of a truly incredible summer at CRC. I know there is still plenty of camping left…at least that’s what we tell the campers…but today was the start of feeling all the feels for a pretty consistent five days. As I mentioned last night in the podcast, this time of the summer is extraordinary…it’s a time when basically everybody is trying to absorb each and every second at this place and with these people. And that’s definitely the positive spin- we often talk about camp as a gift, and one that should not be taken for granted…and in these last days, camp is definitely not taken for granted- there is no doubt that it is appreciated. But the slightly less optimistic side of me has a different take…I am sad that this feeling of just real and true happiness; of freedom and carefree bliss; of genuine love and support towards peers; of life free of screens & school pressure is slipping away from these amazing young people that have been calling #TheRanch2023 their home this summer. Sure, I know that our campers come from loving and wonderful homes- don’t get me wrong. But it is impossible to replicate this bubble we live in where campers are provided with such happy opportunities and such safe challenges & obstacles…and I am sad that their time in this little world of ours is coming to an end for the year. Of course part of what makes this space so special is that it doesn’t last forever- the four and eight weeks of camp is designed to leave campers and staff wanting more…and this summer, I am confident that is where we are at…we aren’t quite ready to leave…but that’s a good thing!

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Okay, enough of the sap- onto our insanely busy and fun day on Dam Lake…

Sunday Morning Breakfast was unique today because it was the beginning of a day celebrating Cliff in small ways for his 20 years at Chippewa. The lodge was decorated to honor Cliff with posters made by each cabin along with a brand new Sunday Morning Breakfast menu board! Per usual, campers enjoyed omelets, pancakes and scrambles, and per usual, the scene in the lodge was very cute. My personal favorite was Lakeview playing Uno and other card games as they waited for their breakfast to be ready.

After breakfast and a bit of cabin clean-up, we had a very special campfire- our Love Never Ends campfire. This is an annual campfire that was written in memory of Alexa, and is super-meaningful to our community. Campers and staff spoke beautifully about Alexa and the meaning of Love Never Ends within the confines of CRC. Scout K led the campfire and we had fabulous sermonettes by Samantha Gi, Sadie Gl, Hope F and Sophie S. These girls did an exceptional job sharing memories they have with Alexa, how her message of Love Never Ends has helped shape their lives, and reminded all of us sitting around the Center Fire Circle that life is precious and we need to love one another & cherish our time together.

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We followed that campfire with some final Lakeview speeches. We have a number of Lakeview campers leaving tomorrow, and today they had the opportunity to share some reflective thoughts with all of us. Their speeches were outstanding- they were sentimental, and they described camp experiences that were unique to each individual but that depicted a common bond and thread- the connections that these girls have formed through their camper years are what made their experiences what they were…it’s the people here that make the place.

This afternoon the entire camp headed to the stables for Chippewa Rodeo- our annual horseback riding show. Emerson M and Jacklin R demonstrated very impressive equestrian skills along with an immense amount of courage. As the whole camp looked on in awe, each of these girls showed us what they have been working on throughout the summer as our most advanced riders. Both Jacklin and Emerson were happy and proud as they dismounted their horses this afternoon…and with good reason- they have helped carry on a significant Chippewa tradition…one that has been a center-piece of the program since the beginning of time…I mean we are Chippewa Ranch Camp after all!

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Don’t worry, our day was filled with even more action…I mean it was non-stop. Following Chippewa Rodeo, we headed to the Center Fire Circle to dabble a bit more in the celebration of Cliff’s 20th summer. While Cliff was fairly adamant that we not do anything big to commemorate this milestone, we couldn’t help ourselves. Lisa, Sophie and I tried to honor his wishes while still showing him that we appreciate his work, care and commitment of and for CRC. And so we had a teeny-tiny ceremony that ended with Sydney J leading the charge of getting Cliff thrown in the lake and the entire camp enjoying tubing and Cathy’s! Now you might be thinking that this is no way to honor or celebrate Cliff- one of the owners and directors…a man who has made it his life’s work to ensure our campers are safe and happy each summer. But I promise, it is a memorable afternoon for our campers like this one that makes Cliff happy…and let’s be honest, there isn’t much that makes Chippies happier than Cathy’s and tubing!

But wait, there’s more! As you might remember from ages ago in this post, tonight was Chippy Awards! Chippy Awards is an awards show put on by Lakeview, in which campers are recognized for their achievements, potential and amazing personality traits. The theme of Chippy Awards 2023 was CR-surf Club…a surf theme that was awesome. As seems to be the standard this summer, Lakeview did not miss a beat…they thought of every detail and executed amazingly. I was impressed with their thoughtful awards, their explanation of the awards and the warmth with which they gave the awards. My favorite part about Chippy Awards though was watching the first time campers enamored with this program. The way they listened so intently to each and every word Lakeview spoke, the authentic way they cheered on their friends who won awards, the captivated looks on their faces as they watched Lakeview’s skits leading up to each presenting group, and the genuine joy that they exuded as they received an award was heart-warming.

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So yeah, our day was busy and our day was crazy. But without question, our day was spectacular…a perfect combination of wild & crazy fun along with meaning and an understanding of how fortunate we are to enjoy a day like this at 8258 County O. That’s all I’ve got for tonight- stay tuned for a couple more reflective entries over the course of the next couple of days. I am so grateful to be a part of this community, and in these final days of the summer of 2023, I will no doubt feel a wide range of emotions…and naturally, I will share those with all of you!

Happy Camping and Love,