Memories from a Summer Lost

By Aaron Selkow, CLC Owner/Director

In her book, A Manufactured Wilderness, Abigail A. Van Slyck refers to summer camps as, “ …a central feature of North American life – for the children who attend them, for the adults who work at them, and even for the former campers of all ages who cherish vivid (if not exclusively pleasant) memories of their camp experiences.” Van Slyck’s examination provides many other insights into how camps became such a valued and dynamic asset to the American experience, but at a time when we watch the summer come to a close after most camps (including Chestnut Lake) were unable to operate for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 crisis, I underlined this sentence while searching for some inspiration.

My memories of camp – as a child tugging at the leg of my parents to let me stay, as a camper for ten summers, as a young adult staff member for four seasons, and as a camp professional for more than 25 years and counting – are vivid, and as Van Slyck suggests parenthetically, they are not exclusively pleasant. As a young child, I made a friend that is still the person I turn to when I need to laugh. In subsequent summers, I would arrive as an only child to find my brothers waiting for me at camp; ten months apart without so much as a call could do nothing to dim the powerful glow of positive energy, shared exploration, and reinforcement that we offered each other. I found my first crush at camp, stumbled through my first kiss on the bridge after a dance, and learned to make a fire. Of course, I also had other experiences in my youth at camp that counter-balanced those idyllic ones. I upset other campers by excluding them from our inner circle. I told untruths to counselors to get out of trouble, and I flexed my ego in ways that have led to a lifetime search for more self-awareness and humility. And while I may have learned to build a fire – once even starting it with a homemade bow drill – I also threw caterpillars in a few. And once, after an overnight trip with my own campers as their beloved role model and counselor, I was the one that encouraged us all to throw eggs from the van while I stood atop the moving vehicle. When we returned to camp, a phone call from a civilian with great vision and a pencil landed our group in a conversation with the camp’s director. He threatened to send the kids home if they didn’t confess, and he meant it. As my co-counselor and I watched our boys stand up to the pressure being asserted by a man who once served as a translator in a Japanese POW camp, we felt pride to see them protecting us. Later that day, however, we cracked. As we walked to the director’s house – certain we would be sent from our summer home – we felt the weight of our poor decisions and anticipated the course of our lives veering towards a much darker and lonelier place. I have wondered for years what might have been different had we actually been fired that day. He must have somehow known that the second chance afforded us as 18 year-olds would contribute to our rehabilitation into upstanding adults, professionals, spouses, and parents.

That was not a high point in my counselor career, though it taught me a valuable lesson. Better memories were formed and more lessons learned when I bonded with children that continue to reach out to me today to share good news and tough times because we trust and respect each other. In my first summer as a counselor in 1987, I was shifted to live with a group of 14-year-olds at my ripe-old-age of 17 and – for the first time – allowed myself to be truly vulnerable. When I said goodbye to them, I let tears flow freely. For all of the years since then, I’ve become more aware and protective of the need for being real, allow my emotions to show, and provide a counterpoint to the toxic masculinity that can be absorbed by kids when they’re so impressionable. When my role shifted to leadership in the summer, I suddenly understood that camp was not only just for me any longer – I was there to serve others and my job was to be a protective factor that could help the next generation of campers make their own memories in an environment that was safe: safe for them to try new things, to be open to new people, to fail forward, and to be given second chances to discover the best versions of themselves that were somewhere amidst the woods, lakes, cabins, dining halls, and other architecture of these intentionally-constructed, but still simple, environments.

Now fast-forward to the summer of 2020 and a virus has ruined these kinds of experiences for too many of our children.

There are camps that ran this summer despite the restrictions and hurdles of COVID-19, but not enough to serve the needs and desires of all children, young adults, and parents across North America who want the memories due to them this year. Those camps did so at great risks and costs, while others – like Chestnut Lake Camp – made their own decisions to shutter for the season to protect our campers and staff from those very same risks. Each camp needed to assess the massive complexities of this moment and be true to their mission and character, as our leaders did at Chestnut Lake. Never before was the very existence of summer camps threatened in this way; no time before forced the passionate and dynamic leaders of camps to make the choice of camp or no camp for families.

The advent of technology and a digital age that has altered how our children learn and connect to others, the greater risks of liability and security that plague society, the high costs of operating immersive programs, and even the destruction of nature and resources could not keep camps from opening before 2020. Camps and camp leaders adapted, innovated, and worked their way through contemporary challenges to ensure that another generation of children could discover themselves and each other at camp. While the pandemic outbreak we continue to navigate may have stolen the opportunities for countless campers, staff, parents, alumni, and other stakeholders to create new, vivid memories at camp in 2020, the very existence of this extraordinary catastrophe has become an opportunity for a true camp memory to form.

In years from now, our children will remember the summer that was lost to COVID-19. Some children and adults will actually look back at this summer as one where they felt like a Trailblazer if they happen to be at one of the camps that has found a pathway through the logistics, limitations, bureaucracy, and understandable concerns to operate in chaos. There will be memories therein for a relatively small group of children that will be able to look back on being among the first to wear a mask at Color War, to have temperature checks become as common as water breaks, and to submit COVID test results as a means of admission to their Happy Place. But it’s as much a memory for the exponentially greater number of people who have had to adjust to a summer without – what greater story of resiliency have we ever had than the need to cope with a summer of camp denied?

Simon Sinek – in Together is Better – suggests that, “Our struggles are short-term steps we must take on our way to long-term success.” The story of summer camp – whether one written by a researcher like Van Slyck or as part of a personal narrative – has always been replete with memories of joy as well as struggle. Friendships and broken hearts, successes and failures, and dreams realized and shattered all dot the scatter plots of experiences for camp people. The summer of 2020 should be that short-term, kick-in-the-teeth moment that can lead to even more special long-term success. This is our perfect chance to become stronger, smarter, and more creative. We tend to like the tales of comebacks and rebounds from adverse conditions because they inspire us to believe that things can get better, and that problems can be fixed. This should be a Comeback Story for the ages.

Right now, there are many broken aspects of our lives that are impacting the way that young people will someday grow into older people. Van Slyck describes summer camps as, “fertile sites for examining a constellation of concerns that have informed – that continue to inform – conceptions of modern childhood.” Let this season of missed memories inform conceptions for our children – and for all of us that continue to have a childish spirit that was shaped at summer camp – to help them to be more resistant and strong as they count down the days to their next summer at camp. Until then, let us appreciate the camp memories that are present now. And let’s continue our countdown towards the summer of 2021, when we reopen to families and staff never before more ready to celebrate the very existence of our society’s greatest antidote to a widespread viral threat: summer camp.

And They Lived Happily Ever After

By Aaron Selkow, CLC Owner/Director

Memorial Day weekend in 1994 was a very special time for me. It wasn’t extraordinary solely because of the fun I had with Paul, Michele, and Jill staying in a dilapidated motel in Atlantic City, New Jersey for a few days. The butterflies I was consumed by as I prepared to drive from the Jersey Shore to Pinemere Camp at the end of the weekend for my first season as a year-round camp professional were notable, but it was something that happened while I was walking on the beach with Paul that was the most remarkable. Something that changed the course of my life forever.

I met Ann Kleiner. Some of you know her as your best and most trusted friend, or as the consummate professional that has been the backbone of an organization for the last 20 years that you’re connected to. Ann is my inspirational and tireless life partner, mother of our exceptional daughter, and the catalyst keeping our extended family, friends, and lives together. And now she will be working alongside me as we become the owners and directors of Chestnut Lake Camp in Beach Lake, Pennsylvania.

That weekend more than 25 years ago was the first chapter in our life together. Before that, Ann and I had grown up two miles and two years apart without knowing how closely-connected and interwoven our experiences had been: mutual friends of our own and through our families, countless seasons on courts and fields playing sports not far from each other, summers at camps just miles apart, the same venue to celebrate our coming-of-age in the Jewish community with friends — Union Fire House in Narberth — and a simpatico that we would discover almost immediately on our first date in November of 1995. That first date was followed by an inseparable bond and relentless laughter that hasn’t stopped, even when our most difficult moments have surfaced since we were married in 1998. Meeting on the beach that day gifted us love and companionship that I have trouble believing anyone else has, and now we’re taking on a new challenge that will test our resolve and relationship while providing us with a too-good-to-be-true opportunity to ride off into the sunset of our lives.

When we asked the tough questions of each other that people raise amid career shifts, we agreed that it was time to prioritize a bit differently. The freedom to imagine new routes and routines can be welcomed and feared at once, but as we navigated those conversations, we found familiar ground. Joining forces to lead a summer camp was not so different, in that sense, from the decision to get married in a backyard tent with origami birds and only a few months of planning, or stopping and starting infertility treatments and an adoption process in the same few minutes sitting in a car on an August afternoon, or buying a house without talking about selling the one we already couldn’t afford. Run a summer camp together? Okay, sure. We can do that.

But like those examples of spontaneity, there was nothing truly astonishing about exploring camp in this way. The foundation of understanding, trust, and the willingness to push each other were just beneath the surface allowing us to feel spontaneous. In actuality, we had been working towards this — separately and together — since we met in 1994. Nine years of co-work at Pinemere while we started to raise our daughter at camp, learning that only one of us was ready to leave Pinemere in 2008 and being okay with that, sustaining love and sanity through almost three years of New York City commuting and lots of travel, and then running two camps 15 miles apart simultaneously for another nine years set us up for being able to pivot like this. There was also a massive amount of good luck, and very special people, that caused this all to materialize.

Running a camp together that has a history but room for growth, and being in charge but with the security of an exceptional family to guide and support us on our journey, gives us confidence in our decision to lean into the unprecedented weirdness and challenge of the present. COVID-19 drove so many camps to close (including those that Ann and I were helping to lead,) but the same pandemic helped to give way to this career needle for us to thread. There are risks and unknowns, just as there are enticements and opportunities. We are just the right mix of scared and joyful about what lies ahead. And off we go.

We’re beginning the next chapter in our lives, thankful for all that we’ve experienced so far, and looking ahead to the growth that will come. I can still picture being in my Jeep Wrangler in 1994, sitting on the Atlantic City Expressway in bumper-to-bumper traffic with angry commuters who were sad to be leaving the fun of the weekend behind them to return to the Real World. I didn’t know what would happen in the years to follow, but I must have had a sense that my life was suddenly better. The music was turned up, the time passed easily, and my thoughts of Ann consumed my head and heart on that day and every day since. Here’s to lots more moments like that…including those we will have in Beach Lake with our new family at Chestnut Lake Camp.

Bringing Out the Chestnut Lake Camp 2018 Memories

As you count down from 10 to 1 this New Year’s Eve, we hope you take the time to look back at all those great memories you made this past summer. In order to relive those memories, we asked our CLC family to tell us their favorite Chestnut Lake memories. You all delivered! Here’s just some of the moments you’ll never forget from Chestnut Lake 2018.

You’ll always remember the new friends you made!

When we asked about your favorite memories, a lot of you mentioned the new friends you made over the summer. We’re not surprised! What would any of these CLC memories be without friends to experience them with? When you run off the bus and through the tunnel of counselors, you’re running towards friendships that last a lifetime. This New Year’s Eve, try reaching out to a camp friend to tell them how great they made your summer!

You made a lot of memories on the brand new Aqua Park!

The Chestnut Lake waterfront is one of the most fun places in camp. Playing in the sand, learning how to water ski, splashing around with your friends – what could be more fun?! This past summer we broke in our brand new CLC Aqua Park, and it quickly became a camp favorite. Ava told us her favorite memory is “hanging out at the Aqua Park with my best friends. My favorite part was when we were jumping off the highest spot and doing silly jumps into the lake.” We can’t wait till we can make more fun memories down at the lake during CLC 2019!

What’s a Chestnut Lake summer without Tribal?

Of course many of you said some of your best CLC memories involve Tribal! Many of you will never forget the moment you dressed in red and got ready to join your tribe. Ben told us he’ll never forget the moment he join Unami! Others told us how much they loved watching rope burn, winning a track meet race, or cheering on their team during the apache relay. We think Avery put it best when she said she loves everything about camp but “especially Tribal! Just everything Tribal! I love the competition and all the spirit, it’s so much fun.” We agree, Avery!

It’s the little moments that matter.

There’s so many amazing events that happen at camp: Tribal, Messy Monday, Group Nights, and more. We love those big events, but it’s the small moments – those times spent with your camp friends, the conversations with your favorite counselor, or those inside jokes that always make you laugh – that can make a summer great. Maddy told us how much she’ll remember the pet rock her bunk had this past summer, while Hillary remembers how much fun she had pretending to skydive with her friends using the goal nets at soccer. They’re the moments that might not seem huge at the time, but they create memories that last a lifetime.

As we reminisce over those amazing CLC 2018 memories, we’re now looking forward to the new memories we’ll make at CLC 2019! Who knows what memories we’ll make as soon as we step off the bus into another summer at Chestnut Lake Camp.

Goodbye Chestnut Lake Camp 2018! ‘Til 2019!

Dear CLC Family,

The buses just rolled out with all the campers and counselors headed back to the “real” world. As the summer of 2018 just officially ended, it’s amazing to already hear the Blue Team sharing memories from the summer, and I imagine that all the campers and counselors are on the buses doing the same. It’s truly heartwarming to hear how one great story leads to another which leads to another as great memories keep coming back to all of us.



At CLC, we always say, “It’s not the minutes, it’s the moments.” This is never more evident than at Closing Campfire as every bunk shares their Bunk Memories with the rest of camp. With all of the great, camp-wide traditions we have at CLC, one might expect many of the Bunk Memories to be the same from bunk to bunk…but they never are…

G8 Talent Show, Counselor Makeovers, Ross’s Bedtime Stories, Bunk Ball, Compliment Wall,
Junior the Bug Slayer, Shake-Grab-Slide-Fist Bump, Mini Basketball, Family Meetings, Honor
Bunk x2, The Slime Explosion, Chicken Fried, Dinosaur, Yeet, Friendship Plant, Roof Ball,
Rainbow, The Greatest Show, Let’s Get It…

These are just a few of literally hundreds shared at Closing Campfire and thousands of others that don’t make their list because we limit it to ten. If you’re thinking you need a CLC Decoder Ring in order to understand them, you’re not the only one! But that’s part of what makes our summers at Chestnut Lake so special…unique moments shared with friends that we’ll never forget…friends that we would never have had in our lives had we not spent our summer together at CLC.



While Chestnut Lake is a very special place for us all, let’s take the opportunity when we go home to bring a little CLC to the rest of the world. We probably don’t have beads at home and definitely don’t have line-up, but why not find a reason to compliment someone new every day. We won’t have campfires every Friday night and don’t have Community Service patches at home, but why not write someone a note to let them know how they’ve made a difference in your life. And while we’re all excited to see our friends at school and work when we get home, why not go out of our way to introduce ourselves to someone new…after all, who knows better than us how special new friends can become.

 

‘Til 2019!
Debbi and Paul

Bringing Out the Play at Chestnut Lake!

An interview with CLC Athletic Director, Kevan Reilly!

May is a very exciting month!  Not only are there a mere 52 days until Opening Campfire, but it’s also National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! This is the perfect time to bring out our inner athletes and celebrate the ways we love to play at CLC. What better way to do this than by having a chat with our very own Athletic Director, Kevan Reilly?

Kevan is from Geneva, Illinois and discovered his love of sports at a young age. If a sport or activity was made available to him, he played it! This passion for all things sports motivated him to get a job as a junior high school physical education teacher. In 2011, he joined the CLC family as the Baseball Director, and in 2016 he was made Athletic Director.  Now you can find him on the Chestnut Lake fields and courts, ensuring every camper gets to bring out the athlete in themselves.

Luckily for us, Kevan joined us for a chat about sports at CLC and what “Bring It Out“ means to him.

Hey Kevan! What’s your favorite sports moment from your time at Chestnut Lake ?

The number one moment that stands out to me happened in 2014. We hosted a Wayne County championship game for Varsity 1 girls softball. For any inter-camp game, we walk our team down to the field before the game for warm-up and final preparations. On this particular day, I was not able to walk down with them. I can still remember meeting our opponents at their bus to escort them to the field. The first thing I saw as we approached the field was our girls warming up and practicing. They had completely organized on their own.

I knew in that moment, before I even addressed the team, that they were going to win. I don’t remember many of the details of the actual game once it started, but I’ll always remember how close-knit they were, and how much they cared about and played for each other, and how proud I felt that day. That group of girls epitomized what it means to be part of a team and bring out the best in each other.Softball at Chestnut Lake Camp

That sounds amazing! Any other special sports memories?

Right around the same time as the softball game, we also started a tradition of giving championship winning teams a golf-cart “championship parade,” which I also love, because they get to act like the pros and feel like big stars for a moment.

Over the summer we love to live by our motto, “Bring It Out”. What does “Bring It Out” mean to you?

To me, “Bring It Out” means unlocking someone’s hidden potential. One of the best things about CLC is that we really encourage campers (and even counselors) to try everything. It’s always awesome to see someone discover a new activity that they love to do. At camp, it’s about not being afraid to fail; it’s okay to not succeed at everything, everytime. At CLC, there’s always someone who cares to pick you back up and support you.

Football at Chestnut Lake CampAs Athletic Director, why do you believe sports are an important part of the camp experience? 

Sports at camp are a controlled environment to explore your own limitations, challenge yourself, and overcome obstacles.  

Sports are also great for camp, and kids in general, because it’s physical activity with a purpose. It encourages decision-making, communication, movement, and personal expression. In addition to the fitness benefits, kids gain social and cognitive skills through an outlet where they can also show off their unique personalities.

One of the best parts of camp is that campers with a variety of personalities and interests come together to create one camp family.  Now, what would you say to a new camper who may not consider themselves to be an athlete, or may be nervous about playing sports at camp?

If sports aren’t necessarily your thing, camp offers something for everyone, from the arts to science and nature, or even media. With that said, our sports programs are designed to be all-inclusive. Our area directors and specialty counselors run activities that teach basics for beginners as well as offering electives to challenge and develop more advanced campers or those who want more individualized instruction. If you want to play on a team, all you have to do is sign up. There are no cuts, everyone gets an opportunity to play and represent their division against other camps.  At Chestnut Lake, we believe in Attitude over Aptitude, and everyone gets an opportunity to play.

We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves – at CLC, “everyone gets an opportunity to play”! Whether you hope to spend your summer competing in as many out-of-camp tournaments as possible, or you just can’t wait to have fun with your group while splashing around in the lake, summers at CLC are all about bringing out the play in you!

Introducing CLC’s New Assistant Director

We are excited to announce that Ali Koenig will be our new full-time Assistant Director. Ali joined CLC last summer as the Kaya Division Leader and quickly became one of the leaders of camp. Whether in the bunks, on the fields or at line-up, Ali’s positive energy and welcoming smile has an impact on everyone she comes in contact with. She has a passion for camp and we look forward to her working with us all year long.

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For as long as I can remember, I have always loved summer camp.     I had the privilege of attending camp as I grew up and the memories, friendships, and opportunities that camp provided me are still with me today. I am now lucky enough to go to summer camp each and every day! I am very excited for the opportunity to work full time with the Chestnut Lake and Trail’s End Camp families. I had an amazing first summer at Chestnut Lake as the Kaya Division Leader and through my campers, staff and the rest of the CLC Family, I was able to learn the meaning of “our summer home.”

I grew up in Colleyville, Texas; a suburb just outside of Dallas/Ft. Worth. I played competitive soccer growing up and continued my passion for the sport playing at Jacksonville State University. I received a Bachelors of Science in Physical      Education and continued my education working as a graduate assistant in the athletic department at JSU. I will receive a Masters of Education with a major in Physical Education this December. I am looking forward to continuing my growth as the Assistant Director of Chestnut Lake Camp “Bringing out the Best” in         everyone!

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We Love Chestnut Lake Summer Camp!

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Jake and Lucy Sher just completed their first summer at Chestnut Lake and wanted to share some of their favorite things about the Summer of 2015.

Jake Sher:

My first summer at Chestnut Lake Camp was one of the best summers that I’ve ever had. Even though I missed my parents the first day, all the fun stuff at CLC made it easy to be away from home.

One of my favorite things about CLC is the food, because there are so many different varieties of things that you can eat. I really like the chicken nuggets and the french toast! The food was the best!

I really like the bunks because you have a lot of space for your stuff. The counselors were awesome. They didn’t act like a parent, but almost like a big brother or sister. I     really liked my counselors, David, Martin and Joe, who slept in my bunk. I also really liked my division leader, Curtis, and my bunk’s partners, Garin and Joe (aka J-Fresh).

Two of the best activities were Outdoor Adventure (which includes ziplines, rock       climbing and ropes course) and the lake. At the lake, I loved the inflatables like the    water trampoline, the Blob and the Rock-it.

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Another thing I really enjoyed about CLC was Tribal. I really liked the activities and the friendly competition. I’ll never forget when I ran from the soccer field to Outdoor          Adventure as part of the Apache relay race. Unami Turtles forever! These are some of the things that made my first summer at CLC the best. I can’t wait until next year!

Lucy Sher:

My first summer at Chestnut Lake was one of the best times I’ve ever had. At first, when I got there, I didn’t know anyone and I was a little nervous. But after a while, I got to know a lot of kids and a lot of counselors who were so nice and friendly. It felt like home, and I didn’t want to leave.

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The counselors were like big sisters. Without them, I don’t know what I would do! One of my counselors, Kenzie, even taught me how to play the ukulele. The counselors are       always there for you whenever you need them, and they always know what’s best.

 

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One of my favorite activities is the lake. Once I even got to eat breakfast at the lake. At the lake, there’s always lots to do, and you can have so much fun. Another activity I like is basketball. I started playing basketball before I went to camp, and I really liked it. But at Chestnut Lake, it was so different. The counselor who taught me how to play was really nice and he knew how to help make me a better player. I love playing basketball at Chestnut Lake!

 

Outdoor Adventure is a really special thing that I think everyone needs in their life! At OA, these are some of the things you get to do: rock climbing, ziplining, climbing ropes, and working on skills that you’ve never worked on before. And last but not least, Tribal is my favorite activity because there’s so much to do and so much competition. That’s one of the things I like best. It was one of the best experiences to be an Unami Turtle.

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I love Chestnut Lake because the first time I went, it felt like family. I can’t wait to go back next summer!

 

My Best Summer at Chestnut Lake Camp!

At the end of every summer as campers return home, they always have many stories and special moments to share from their summer at Chestnut Lake. We thought it would be fun to connect with some of our first year campers and find out first hand about their summer at camp and what they loved the most about CLC.

First up is Drew Bick who attends camp with his brother, David.

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“My first summer at CLC was awesome. I had great counselors and a great Division Leader named Mike. My favorite part of camp was going to the Lake. There were so many fun inflatables like the blob, the swing and slide. All of our evening activities were awesome: some are shows, some are talent shows and some are sports. My favorite activity was fruit ninja. Your counselor throws you a water balloon and you try to hit it with a baseball bat-whoever hits the most wins. Paul and Debbi are great. There are a lot more activities at CLC than what I told you like all kinds of sports and free play time. And the food is great!  That’s why this was my best summer!”

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Next up is Claire Lenkin who attends camp with her brothers, Ethan and Noah.

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“For my first summer at CLC, I was in lower Yazhi. My favorite activities were Lake and OA (Outdoor Aventure). The Lake is SO much fun. You can go tubing and waterskiing!! They also have paddleboarding, fishing, a blob and a rope swing on the water trampoline. During Visting Day, your Dad can blob you very high!! My Dad blobbed me 10 feet in the air!  At OA, you go on the humongous zip line and the flying squirrel. They also have archery and rock climbing.

Another exciting part of the summer was when I found out which Tribal team I was on. I am a Minsi Wolf. One of my favorite parts of camp was Tribal. There are lots of fun activities like Apache Relay  and Rope Burn!  For one of my night activities, we went on a cookie hunt. Also, if your parents don’t let you stay up late at home you can stay up at camp! You also have a special snack in bed called Midnight snack. During Midnight snack you can read during “Flashlight Time”. Flashlight time is just time when you can read, whisper with your friends or doodle with your flashlight.

If you have siblings at camp sometimes at lunch there is a sibling cookout so you can eat lunch with your sibling. I had 2 older brothers at camp – Noah and Ethan.  One time in Arts and Crafts I made a wooden letter holder. In art and crafts there is sewing, woodworking, cooking and video. Also in sewing you can make pillows.  I can’t wait to go back next summer to see the new friends I made at camp. I loved my  counselors and Chestnut Lake!  That’s why this was my best summer!”

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A Summer Camp Tradition at CLC

Every summer, Lou and Sue Flego visit Chestnut Lake Summer Camp for one of the campers’ favorite traditions: Square Dancing! Younger campers learn simple calls like “Up to the middle with a tap, tap, tap.” while returning campers perfect calls like “Step to an ocean wave.” For two days, the campers practice in their 8-person sets, preparing for the competition on the final night.

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Once the squares are set, the girls take over and coordinate what each set will wear. The build-up to the final competition is pretty intense. The championship bracelets that the winners receive are highly coveted at Chestnut Lake Camp. The campers show up for the final competition decked out in coordinating outfits…there is plenty of plaid and pigtails!

Before the competition begins, Sue lightens the mood with some line dancing. Staff and campers join in as they slide and turn to “Popcorn” and “Montego Bay.” Once the line dancing is finished, the sets form their squares and prepare for the dance-off. Counselors take their spots outside of the squares, cheering on their campers and coaching them through the difficult calls. Lou, Sue, Debbi and Paul judge the squares and ask the sets that miss calls to sit down. After a while, there are only two sets left. Lou pauses to congratulate the final two squares and then moves them to the center.

As the music starts back up, all of the campers and counselors cheer the final sets on as they concentrate on executing each and every call. After the calls become more and more difficult, Lou finally has one of the sets sit down, which means that the only square still standing has won the special Lou & Sue bracelets!

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Square Dancing with Lou and Sue is a favorite Summer Camp Tradition at Chestnut Lake!

Chestnut Lake Summer Camp 4th of July Regatta

The first week of Chestnut Lake Summer Camp 2015 has been amazing! We started preparing for our 4th of July celebration on Saturday.  The lower campus decorated their bunks in patriotic themes while the upper campus turned our golf carts into parade floats.

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On the afternoon of the 4th, our older campers organized a parade for the younger campers. Kaya, Sani and Varsity marched in formation and drove their floats down Chestnut Lake Avenue. As the procession passed the campers, the Kaya, Sani and Varsity threw candy as everyone cheered. Uncle Sam even made a guest appearance at Chestnut Lake Summer Camp!

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Next up for our Independence Day celebration was Regatta. Campers organized into their tribes and started preparing to sail their boats in the pool, but first they watched their division leaders compete in a belly busting competition which was amusing as well. Later that evening the whole camp gathered together on the slope.  We all joined in for the singing of the National Anthem. As the National Anthem ended, our annual fireworks display began high above the stage.

Now the campers are anxiously waiting to see their families on Visiting Day at Chestnut Lake Summer Camp!