In the summer of 1998, I started working as a Unit Director at Cheley Colorado Camps, a world-class resident camp in Estes Park. At Cheley (cheley.com), I quickly made a whole new set of friends and learned that the impactful experience which felt so unique in Wisconsin happens in camps all over!
At a staff meeting that first summer, Brooke Cheley – a fourth generation Director and good friend – said “We need more male staff for Burn Camp.” Without thinking or even knowing what Burn Camp was, I said “I’ll do it!” That week I spent with pediatric burn survivors (noordinarycamps.org) shifted my whole approach to camp and kids. It was the beginning of my dedication to creating inclusive programming and communities.
I spent five summers at Cheley and 15 years volunteering at Burn Camp. In February 2004, I had a crucial conversation with Jane Sanborn, the wise Executive Director of Sanborn Western Camps (sanbornwesterncamps.com). We discussed what I was working on, and what my goals were, and how impossible the business model seemed for starting a resident camp from scratch. Then she asked: “Why don’t you start a day camp?”
And right then, the path became clear… I realized “I’m going to start a DAY CAMP.”