The Mighty Chabanel
By Pati Egan
Chabanel, unique (snap snap), complete (snap snap), can’t be beat (snap snap) the Mighty Chabanel! Unit cheers have been a mainstay at Camp for many years. While developing this post this Chabanel cheer came to mind. This was in the early 80s, and the Addams Family Theme fit Chabanel quite nicely!
Before becoming the most unique unit, there were six camper cabins plus a staff cabin in front of the “cave.” Chabanel is one of the four original units. Its color has always been “mustard yellow,” and its spirit animal has always been a bear.
It’s always been very dark at night. I was Unit Leader of old Chabanel, and we would try to remember to hide a flashlight in the fork of a tree to get back at night. Around 1973 camp built little shower houses in each unit. Chabanel did not have one. Chabanel campers and staff would have to use Ahatsistari’s shower house for water and showering. The slabs still remain – that’s where campers now have a spigot and a hand washing station. The shower houses were a bust, but it did get waterlines to many units. Even when Chabanel wasn’t directly under the rocks, it was still the “coolest spot in camp.”
Time for a Face Lift! The location is the same, but a major overhaul was done in 1979. Gene Canavan designed the original cave unit. I’ve heard that Gene studied where the cave dripped before completing the original design. There were no tarp overhangs. The campers loved it but would get wet at night from the rocks dripping water on them. The waterfall was very cool!
The unit was an immediate hit with campers! Chabanel had a reputation of being “really far.” It now had a reputation of being “really cool!”
Improvements were made to the original design. Tarps were hung to help keep the mattresses dry along with the campers.
There are two “regular” cabins; the staff cabin and a camper cabin. Chabanel is one of the most scenic units in camp. Surrounded by bluffs and forest, the campers find themselves immersed in the beauty of creation.
I truly enjoyed my six weeks in Chabanel, cold showers and all! This was the first year that staff came from New Orleans. I had two of them on my staff all summer. It was an amazing summer and started the tradition of many New Orleans staff coming up here for New Year’s Eve, and many staff from the local area going down there for Mardi Gras or for just a summer vacation. Yes, at times Chabanel can be…creepy and [they’re] kooky, mysterious and spooky, [they’re] altogether ooky, The Chabanel Family!
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