“Don’t lick your fingers after you touch a bug”. That’s the first thing I heard as I walked up to a group of young girls huddled in a circle on the Camp Chief Ouray grounds. I initially questioned if I had heard them correctly, but after hearing the group erupt into giggles, I figured I was right.
Whether it’s studying bugs and other wildlife, or exploring the outdoors, Camp Chief Ouray has been the adventurous playground and traditional overnight camp for kids ages 7-17 since 1908. CCO was originally located north of Granby near current-day Lake Granby and began as a male only endeavor. The camp became co-ed in 1962, eighteen years before it began calling Snow Mountain Ranch home.
I had the opportunity to go to CCO for a day during my internship and let me tell you, I was excited. I never got to experience summer camp as a kid, so who says it’s too late to make it up now?
The day began with the raising of the American flag and singing the National Anthem, followed by breakfast. By the time I arrived to the downstairs office, breakfast was ending and the cheering was so loud from the floor above me I thought that the ceiling might cave in. I could feel the energy of the entire camp as soon as I walked through the door.
I felt it and I saw it. As soon as I walked outside where everyone was gathered to begin the activities for the day I could tell that the magic of camp was so evident here. Each cabin group was circled up, playing games and laughing together until the schedule was announced, the light of excitement and the desire for adventure shining through their eyes.
Once the daily schedule was announced, I tagged along with a group of nine, nine-year-old girls as they made their way to the low ropes course. I remember being a nine-year-old girl, not having a care in the world. Spending the day with these girls really had me longing for the innocence and simplicity of life that I had back then.
That age is such a pivotal time in a kids’ life. You’re young, but old enough to start taking some responsibility and to know right from wrong. The low ropes course was a test of patience for these girls, strengthening their skills in teamwork and communication while also teaching them about each other.
Being surrounded by different personalities at a young age teaches you how to handle any situation that is thrown at you. Not everyone is going to be like you, think like you, or act like you, but guess what? That’s perfectly okay! Right in front of my eyes I saw these girls compromise with each other while trying to problem solve. I saw them push aside their differences in order to achieve the end goal and that’s what this camp is about – working together, learning together, and making memories together that kids will not only remember for the rest of their lives, but that will help shape them into the adults that they aspire to be one day.
Summer camp is something that I wish I would’ve gotten to experience as a kid, but I think being able to see it now as an adult really opened my eyes to the impact that it makes, especially here at Camp Chief Ouray. I learned quickly that it’s not uncommon for camp counselors or full-time staff to be former campers. This place has a certain type of magic in the atmosphere. The kind that keeps you coming back for more.
CCO offers more than one type of camp, depending on the age of the child and the experience that they’re wanting to get out of it. No matter what camp you choose, CCO is dedicated to growth in spirit, mind, and body in an outdoor setting and Christian environment, challenging campers to discover their true selves.
To learn more about Camp Chief Ouray, click here.