Monthly Archives: June 2022

Campfire Tales | 6/26/22

By Aaron Selkow, Owner/Director

I look forward to sharing some thoughts each week before the Chestnut Lake Camp community gathers for our Campfire. For those of you that may be newer to Chestnut, our Community Campfires are usually held each Friday after dinner, and they are a very special part of the program here. There are other times that our campers might gather for Campfires, like our extra-special Tribal Campfire that launches Chestnut’s inimitable Tribal (Color) War experience, but the Friday night gathering is a tradition in Beach Lake.

Tonight we will soon gather for our Opening Campfire after a colossal day. The campers arrived (some actually got here yesterday from very far away places), our staff began to finally get the chance to do the work they came here to do, and as I write this I’m watching kids playing in the pool just yards away. Camp has started. And tonight we will officially usher in the start of our First Session and the 2022 season at Chestnut Lake.

This is not in a typical year. Since March 2020, the normal that we might remember is gone. Some kids have thrived during this period and may have shown incredible adaptability and resilience. But the interruption of routine, an emphasis on technology for connection, more time spent at home and with adults, less in-person interaction and socialization, and other aspects of the pandemic have forged a new normal for countless children. And in an immersive and intensive environment like ours, sometimes these small wrinkles that kids experience can either be easily ironed out or can be more pronounced.

Even the greatest experience ever dreamed up – a summer at camp – has been impacted. Looking back to the summer of 2021 when Ann and I had our first chance to join and lead this camp family, there were challenges that we had never seen before. Our staff worked so hard, but we were paddling upstream on many days. In the end, the time at camp was an antidote for children that just needed a break and craved the chance to be with each other and free from some of the real world’s worries. But as we walked away from Beach Lake at the end of that summer, we were immediately focused on this summer. This is the summer to show what Chestnut Lake is all about and how much joy, inspiration, growth, and ridiculous fun there is here. And now we’re here, and the magic has begun.

At tonight’s Campfire, I will welcome your children to this special place. They will be seated together, shoulder-to-shoulder, beneath a darkened sky with glistening stars. We will sing, we will cheer, and we will introduce our campers to all the staff members that will be devoted to them throughout the summer. Individuals (like our Junior Counselors) that grew up here at Chestnut Lake, young adults that have traveled across the globe and have brought incredible life experience to this work, and so many immensely talented people that have already shown a capacity for caring and spirit at a very high level. Towards the end of the program, we will teach and then join in for Chestnut’s alma mater in an effort to ritualize the first night of an extraordinary summer:

Days spent creating
Lifetimes awaiting
Here with you, dear Chestnut Lake

Scenes on a postcard
Cabins and ballyards
Always true, dear Chestnut Lake

Kinships old and new
Spirit shining through

Nights ‘round the campfire
Flames dancing higher
Always true, dear Chestnut Lake 
Here with you, dear Chestnut Lake

These words are important at Chestnut Lake, but it’s less so what we say and more so that we are together and all saying the same thing. This sense of togetherness and unity represents the best at Chestnut, and this is the moment I am looking forward to more than any other. This is what we came to do, this is what your kids richly deserve.

Enjoy your first night of camp at home, and know that we will be enjoying ours. Always true, dear Chestnut Lake.