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Mapping the Summer Camp Business

Mapping the Summer Camp Business
Photograph by Douglas Grundy/Three Lions/Getty Images

On May 15, Jeff Cheley will leave Denver and drive 75 miles up into the Rocky Mountains to prepare his family’s 91-year-old summer camp for the season. About a month later, the fourth-generation owner will welcome 500 campers to the 1,400-acre camp his great-grandfather Frank founded so boys and girls could hike, fish, ride horseback, and experience “the foundation for all that is big and fine in American life and character.”

Cheley Colorado Camps brings in about $4 million annually and its property on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park is “very valuable,” says Cheley. While he acknowledges camp operators can make a good living, he says running a camp is “not about the money; it’s about the relationships and families we’ve connected with for 80 or 90 years.”