[Did you see the Week 3 video yet? Click here to watch it!]
By Aaron Selkow, Owner/Director
We’re still a relatively young camp. In only our 15th year, this fact does not occur very much to our campers. The camp is older than almost all of them, so as far as they know, Chestnut feels like a place that’s been around forever. But there are a few things at Chestnut that are evidence of this relative youth, and one of them is the trajectory of our experiences for teens.
A camp of this quality, and one into at least its second generation, almost always has a teen leadership continuum that over many years evolves and establishes a culture of young leadership. Whether the summer programs are summer-long or single-session-length, and regardless of whether they’re called Varsity, LT, CIT, or other common names, successful teen experiences breed great spirit and support growth for all campers and staff. Former campers age into opportunities to shine, take on more responsibility, and gain independence, and these summers are the ones that all younger campers will aspire to reach. At Chestnut, we are still growing up in this aspect of our camp’s development.
There have been many great teens at Chestnut Lake Camp, and the Varsity, LT (leadership Training), and JC (Junior Counselor) programs have had participants for years. But the numbers have still been growing, and especially with the combination of being a young camp and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic a few years ago, we are finally on the cusp of establishing more concrete appeal and outcomes of our teen sessions and this summer is evidence of that.
Our Varsity 1 (rising 9th) and Varsity 2 (rising 10th) teens have had an incredible few weeks at Chestnut, and it is clear that what they are achieving and contributing to camp will have a lasting impact. There are two examples of this leadership that I want to share today.
Trips are a part of most camp’s curriculum. Whether they are afternoon excursions to an amusement park or more extensive travels, trips are a means of bringing camp into the Real World and giving our campers unforgettable experiences that they get to enjoy with their closest friends. At Chestnut, trips had become an important feature before the disruption from COVID, and that led to a few years of no major trips off-site. It was hard each year to make that decision, and though we look back and feel it was the right choice, it increased the build-up of anticipation and pressure for this year’s trips to finally get back off-site (including overnight versions). Just a few days ago, we completed all of our First Session trips and there is no doubt that these will turn out to be highlights for many campers. None more important than what our Varsity campers experienced.
For four days, our Varsity 1 campers traveled north to Massachusetts to enjoy Boston, Cape Cod, and other fun stops while they camped, stayed in hotels, visited cool sights, and had one fun moment after another. Traveling by charter bus, they came back from that trip with a greater sense of connection to each other, and that energy has been shared throughout the camp community in Beach Lake.
Yet it was the Varsity 2 campers that traveled to New Mexico that really stole the show. Heading our west on a flight and embarking on a full itinerary that included full-scale camping, climbing, rafting, and more adventures. The V-2s found themselves in a remote location and were challenged to step far outside their comfort zones, and they responded with incredible character, teamwork, and leadership. The trip continued from the wilderness to Sante Fe and Albuquerque, including time spent sledding sand dunes and exploring Southwestern culture. But it’s the strength in their resolve, their adventurous spirit, and the bonds that were made deeper between them that have truly stood out. They even dealt with a stomach bug that has taken down many of our kids and staff for a short time, though our Varsity 2s would not let that keep them from enjoying this trip to the fullest. Now that they are back at camp, we continue to honor them (and their V-1 peers) for being trailblazers, both literally and figuratively. Our hearts are filled with pride, and we know that the campers that follow them are already hearing the stories and are excited to follow in their footsteps. This is how young camps become more “mature.”
We are grateful to the Varsity leaders and their staff for being an inspiration to us all.
And as if their leadership through their trips was not enough, please enjoy the following letter written by these amazing teens and their staff about their effort to give back to the community and get more kids to camp. Your support is greatly appreciated by us all.
The Varsity campers (rising 9th and 10th graders) of Chestnut Lake are excited to be continuing an amazing camp tradition, the Color Run for SCOPE. In Varsity, we look forward to being a part of events that help the greater good beyond the boundaries of Chestnut Lake. Camp has done so much for all of us, and we are thrilled to give back so that others can enjoy sleep-away camp like we do.
As the oldest campers at CLC, we will be hosting the annual Chestnut Lake Summer Classic Color Run. It is going to be a very special event for the entire Chestnut Lake family. We have created a 5K course around camp, and we look forward to this event on Monday, July 17th.
CLC is extremely excited to again partner with SCOPE(Summer Camp Opportunities Promote Education), an organization that raises money to help provide access to the summer camp experience. We are asking members of our Chestnut community to participate by making a financial pledge by donating towards this great cause. Your child may participate in the Color Run whether you donate or not, but donations are greatly appreciated. Donations can be made through SCOPE, who has created an online platform for our families to donate directly and here is the link.
Please make all donations by July 20th, so that we may reveal the grand total before our First Session campers depart on July 21st.
Thank you in advance for your amazing support of this effort!
Varsity Teens & Varsity Leadership Team