Cheley Colorado Camps

Come work and play in the Rocky Mountains of Estes Park, CO at an internationally renowned summer camp!

Since 1921, Cheley has been providing summer camp experiences for children ages 9-17 in Estes Park, Colorado.

Cheley Colorado Camps lies 75 miles northwest of Denver on the 750-acre Land O'Peaks Ranch just south of Estes Park, surrounded by the snow-capped peaks and forests of RMNP and the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. Two additional sites serve the Trail's End Ranches while three other locations serve as overnight camping spots.

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About Cheley Colorado Camps

Cheley Colorado Camps is a family-owned, co-ed, residential summer camp that was started in 1921 by Frank H. Cheley. We are youth development professionals focused on having a positive lasting impact. Comprised of outdoor adventures, horseback riding, athletics, target sports, fine & performing arts, and aquatics, "we build the lasting character and resiliency of young people, creating unique life experiences in a challenging and nurturing natural environment."

A summer at Cheley Colorado Camps means spending time hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, rafting, paddleboarding, mountain biking, and playing in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Wake up each morning to the fresh mountain air, views of peaks that soar to 14,000 feet, and the laughter of fellow campers and staff. Since 1921, Cheley Colorado Camps has welcomed more than 50,000 young people from every state and more than a dozen countries, including many second, third, and now fourth generation Cheley campers. 

Offering two traditional 4-week terms, a 5-night program for younger campers interested in a taste of camp, a family camp, and more, Cheley hosts over 1,200 campers each summer with ~220 seasonal staff and a small team of year-round staff. The average Cheley camper spends four to five summers at camp with some staying as long as ten. Still, on average 30% of campers each summer are first-time Cheley campers coming from over 45 states and at least 15 foreign countries.

People choose Cheley because they know they can expect an experience of exceptional richness, quality, and consistency in a community that celebrates the individual interests and needs of each participant. Cheley campers also develop nurturing and trusting relationships with counselors who serve as positive role models in their job as youth development professionals. Cheley begins the summer with the development of a Code of Living. The Code of Living is a compilation of traits, suggested by the campers in each unit, that the campers strive to uphold throughout the term. These ideals, which often include those such as responsibility, integrity, trust, and empathy, are interwoven into the Cheley Experience. Cheley campers refer back to the Code of Living as they hold each other to these strong ideals. In fact, we often hear that campers hang their Code of Living on their wall when they return home to hold themselves accountable during the school year. 

The Rocky Mountains are the playground for Cheley’s free-choice program. Camp lies 75 miles northwest of Denver on the 750-acre Land O'Peaks Ranch south of Estes Park, surrounded by the snow-capped peaks and forests of Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, and the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. Cheley operates its backcountry program on permits from the National Park Service and the Forest Service. In addition to the Land O'Peaks Ranch, Cheley owns five more locations totaling approximately 700 acres. Two of these locations are the site of two additional camper units – the Trail's End Ranches, where campers sleep in covered wagons – while the other three locations serve as overnight camping spots. No matter how many years you come to camp, it's tough to see it all.

In Rocky Mountain National Park alone, more than 600 miles of trails wind through sunlit meadows of wildflowers, cool forests, brilliant snowfields, and vast boulder fields to high country lakes, ponds, glaciers, and rivers, and alpine peaks. Cheley's facilities include five horseback riding rings, a climbing wall, a gymnasium, a fleet of 40 mountain bikes, a low and high ropes course, a grassy amphitheater with a lighted stage, a soccer field beside an aspen grove, a fishing pond, and facilities for working with leather, paints, ceramics, and wood. Camp buildings, much like the Cheley Experience, are rich in tradition and steeped in memory. Handsome lodges and snug log cabins dating to the 1920s merge gracefully with the rocky landscape, offering stunning views at every turn. The facilities and grounds are constantly improved and scrupulously maintained for the safety, comfort, and enjoyment of campers and staff. 

Cheley Colorado Camps has survived wars, economic depressions, natural disasters, and pandemics, truly withstanding the test of time. Following our Centennial in 2021, we know our challenge as leaders in youth development is to protect and preserve the rugged, rustic character of their experience while providing opportunities for growth, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. This is what makes Cheley a top-rated summer camp and we intend on improving every year.

Cheley Colorado Camps is accredited by the American Camp Association, the Western Association of Independent Camps, the Camp Owners and Directors Association, and is a Leave No Trace partner.

The Employee Experience

All staff at Cheley are part of the camp community. At different times throughout the summer, you may be asked to help the community in some way outside of your job description.

  • Counseling staff members are assigned to a specific job (typically, based on activity) in one camp unit. Every counselor is first a counselor involved in the person-to-person relationships of guiding campers, helping them to make the most of their camp opportunity. Support staff members are assigned to a general support position (i.e., photographer, cook, transportation, etc.).
  • Counselors live with and are responsible for a group of campers. They are typically at least 19 years old. They write weekly reports to parents, have meal supervision, maintain discipline, and set a good example. Counselors also help campers with laundry sorting, making beds, homesickness, and personal hygiene. Support staff members live in shared support staff housing and typically at least 18 years old.

All staff members have one day off and one night off each week with daily shuttles provided to town each morning and afternoon. We are about 10 minutes from downtown Estes Park which has laundry facilities, shops and restaurants, grocery stores, a movie theater, and a bowling alley. We are about an hour from Boulder (home to the University of Colorado) and Fort Collins (home to Colorado State University) and 1.5 hours from Denver.

Ideal Candidate

Being a counselor is a very important position and the choices they make affect the campers’ entire camp experience. The goal of the counselor is to give each camper a safe, fun, and memorable summer where they learn about themselves and learn to “act spontaneously in the right.

We are looking for staff members who are excited to work with youth, have experience working with children or in a particular program area, who are willing to work hard and impact children's lives.


Inclusion at Cheley Colorado Camps

We live by our core values and beliefs, which embrace harmonyhonestyintegrityunselfish love, and concern for human dignity. We’re passionate about creating an inclusive camp community that celebrates, supports, and thrives on diversity: in race, color, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, disability and mental health, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, national origin, family status, veteran and military status, and any other category people use to define themselves or others. The Cheley Experience thrives on creating an environment where everyone is comfortable bringing their authentic selves to camp. All are welcome and encouraged to apply!

Room and Board

We provide room and board to all staff; however, living quarters vary among position and age groups. Generally, counselors live in a cabin with 6-14 campers and 1-2 fellow staff. At the TEs, counselors live in cabins with only 1-3 fellow counselors. Leadership staff enjoy their own room or shared room with a fellow leadership staff member. Support staff live in shared support staff housing. All cabins are rustic in nature and are quite cozy once staff add their personal touches. Linens (sheets, pillow, pillowcase, blanket) are provided as well.

We have an excellent kitchen team in our four dining halls and we feed our campers and staff very well over the course of the summer! Three meals are provided per day. To-go lunches can also be prepared during time off.

Employee Perks

Live, play, and work in the great outdoors!

  • Gain new friends from all over the world
  • Housing and meals included
  • Competitive seasonal salary (first-year counseling staff salary starts at $350/week)
  • Save money as a result of having very few expenses
  • At least one day off and night off each week as well as a mid-term break
  • Bonuses for relevant certifications
    • WFA = $100
    • WEMT/EMT = $250
    • WFR/OEC Ski Patrol = $200
    • Teacher (1-3 years) = $200
    • Teacher (4-10 years) = $400
    • CDL = $350
    • ACCT, CWI, High Ropes Level 1 = $200
    • High Ropes Level 2 = $250
  • Travel allowance
  • Seasonal outdoor "pro-deal" discounts
  • A discount card, good at a variety of Estes Park establishments
  • Gain valuable experience
  • "The Cheley Advantage" – we love writing recommendations for great staff members!

Getting Here and Getting Around

You are welcome and encouraged to bring your own car! Most of our staff drive or carpool to camp, while others fly into Denver International Airport (DEN) and take the Estes Park Shuttle. Since downtown Estes Park is such a short drive from camp, many staff visit town on their nights off by carpooling with fellow staff. We also provide a daily shuttle to town each morning and afternoon for those who need a ride on their day off.

Additionally, we offer a travel allowance which varies. The amount is determined by the state that issued your ID and is conditional on the hired staff member completing their paperwork by the due date.

For Fun

Explore Estes Park, go hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, drive to Boulder or Fort Collins for a university town experience, or drive to Denver to see a Colorado Rockies baseball game or attend a concert at Red Rocks amphitheater.

How to Apply

Visit our website for more information and to apply online!


Updated May 3rd, 2022

We accept applications for all positions on a rolling basis and are continually hiring for Summer Camp 2022. We are, however, immediately hiring for the following positions and prioritizing applications with these preferences:

  • Horseback Riding Counselors
  • Hiking/Backpacking Counselors (Male)
  • Mountain Biking Counselor (Female)
  • Transportation Crew (including CDL Drivers)
  • Ceramics Specialist
  • Nurse/Doctor

Contact Cheley Colorado Camps