Estes Park, Colorado
November 20, 2012
We were lucky enough to have Betsy Thamert, the Rocky Mountain ACA Field Executive, give us a tour of her home camp. One where she was both a camper, long time counselor and then a year round staff member. We pulled up in Betsy's Subaru with a plate of cookies and got a chance to be part of a winter Cheley tradition, coffee break. As we sat around with some of the year round staff we heard stories of bears and elk that frequent the camp grounds as well as some of the silly pranks and traditions that were unique to Cheley Camps. Afterwards we walked around and could not take enough pictures to capture the beautiful scenery and historic buildings. Although boys and girls camp are mostly separate they still share the same traditions and anchoring ceremonies that make their camp experience unique. Betsy's eyes welled up as she told us about the key ceremony that takes place during every session. At the beginning of a cabins time at camp the group sits down and come up with a code or a set of rules that is based on what the campers think would allow for the best week at camp. Then at the end of every session each camper in the cabin votes on who they think best held up the code, this camper is awarded a key. We know this key is a big honor and a big deal because at the Rocky Mountain conference a year round staff member was still proudly wearing his key that he covered as a camper. As we walked around Cheley we saw where generations of key campers names were inscribed into the walls and wood workings of the beautiful old buildings. Cheley is a camp passed down through the Cheley family for generations and has has so much value as well as adventure to offer.