Hey y’all! With the Internship Fair coming up, I thought it would be a good time to tell you about one of the attendees, one that is very near and dear to my heart. Cheley Colorado Camps is a summer camp located high in the Rocky Mountains in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. Cheley facilitates a whole host of activities for boys and girls aged 9-17 including hiking, backpacking, riding, and so much more. The Cheley experience is unlike any other, and even today it’s still one of the most important formative events of my life.
One of the first things people learn about Cheley is that the camp is 100% technology-free for campers. That’s right: no phones, no social media, no TV, nothing! Even staff are encouraged to limit their phone usage. Believe it or not, though, that actually ended being one of my favorite things about it. Being out in the wild, having face-to-face conversations with all of your friends, and disconnecting from all the stress of the outside world (I attended during an election year once, so believe me, there was nothing more I wanted to do than disconnect) is one of the most relaxing experiences ever. Speaking of friends, I made some of the greatest friends I’ll ever had through Cheley, many of them I never would have met otherwise. My roommate my first year was from Cambridge, England and grew up in a variety of countries all over the world, but coming to Cheley and taking away our phones helped break down cultural barriers. Even today, she’s still one of my best friends and we manage to catch up with each other often.
If you ask anyone who has ever gone to Cheley, one of the first things they’ll tell you about is the fantastic staff. And that’s not an exaggeration-Cheley is renowned for having great counselors, in no small part because the staff are having as much fun as the kids. While yes, there’s a lot of responsibility involved in supervising the campers, staff are involved in all the same traditions and activities that happen in and outside of camp. More often than not, the counselors in my unit seemed more like fun older siblings than supervisors. They got to go on the same hikes, rides, and camping trips as we did, but more than that, they often served as mentors, guiding us to becoming our best selves. As a matter of fact, listening to my hiking counselor talk about all the experiences she had while studying at KU helped influence my decision to become a Jayhawk myself!
The best thing Cheley ever did for me, however, was inspire a sense of self-sufficiency in me. One of the toughest hikes I ever took part in at Cheley was Chasm Lake my first year. For context, Chasm Lake is located on a trail that, if you just follow for just a little over two miles, takes you to the summit of Longs’ Peak. Longs’ Peak is the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park and a notorious 14er (that is, a mountain over 14,000 feet in elevation). Additionally, much of the trail happens above timber line, when the air is so thin that trees can’t grow. In short, this was no cake walk. But completing this hike was probably the biggest self-esteem boost of my life. So much of that hike was me realizing that my body was capable of anything I put it to, it was just my mindset that was blocking me. Realizing what I could really do on my own gave a newfound sense of sufficiency that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. And I think that’s what Cheley is really all about. Yes, being in the mountains away from all your problems and singing campfire songs with your best friends is fun, but the best thing about Cheley is learning about yourself. From the counselors right on down to the campers themselves, Cheley is about finding yourself and what you can do. If that sounds like something you want to be a part of, I couldn’t recommend an internship with Cheley Colorado Camps more.