Monthly Archives:July 2017

The Power of Camp Alumni

Posted by on July 21, 2017


I had the privilege of spending the entire morning on my first Monday at camp with one of our new campers who was battling an uneasy stomach (lucky for me, not so fortunate for her!).  In the course of our lengthy conversation while at the Health Center, I decided to ask her how she ended up at camp since this is her first summer at Woodland.  The story that unfolded in those next few minutes blew me away and has been on my mind ever since!

My new friend described an experience her Mother had while traveling on a business trip several years ago that is the reason she ended up at Camp Woodland THIS summer!  This camper’s Mom was in Mexico at a meeting a few years back and couldn’t help but notice a gentleman sitting around the conference table and how he was so well spoken.  He clearly made an impact on her in comparison to his counterparts at the same meeting.

The Mom was so impressed that she proceeded to ask the young man after the event where he learned to have such an ease and command of the English language.  His response was, “I became comfortable with English during my time at summer camp in the United States.”  After a series of questions, she found out that the camp he was referring to was Towering Pines in Northern Wisconsin AND that there was a sister camp, Camp Woodland for Girls.

Fast forward to a few months ago, and this same woman picked up the phone and called JoAnne to enroll her daughter for her first of hopefully many summers at Woodland!  AND, this camper actually asked me at some point after she was feeling better if it was possible to extend her stay of the 4 weeks she originally signed up for to the full 6-week term!

This story is a HUGE reminder of how we never know how something that may seem so trivial at the time may turn into something much grander than ever imagined or realized!  Towering Pines added a camper or two in recent years because someone noticed a camp sweatshirt that a current camper was wearing at a hockey game and asked about it.  Another family contacted JoAnne this winter to inquire about camp for their kids based on an interaction they had while on vacation with an alum who was also staying at the same resort.  This former camper/staff member didn’t even realize that she was mentioning camp constantly in conversation because of her love of sailing (an activity she learned that at camp!).

The power you have as camp alumni is far greater than you will ever know.  We are grateful for the times you slip camp into a conversation when talking with family/friends/colleagues/neighbors, wear or use something with the camp name or logo, like or share a picture or post on social media, visit camp during the summer season, host a camp show during the winter, or send your own children to Towering Pines and Woodland.  Camp was here for you then, is still here now, and our hope is that camp will be here for generations to come!

p.s.  If you are the alum or you know the alum who was at the business meeting in Mexico, please let us know!  A big THANK YOU is in order!

p.s. #2  We are looking forward to celebrating Woodland’s 50th summer in 2019 and would love to have you reconnect with us!


Accelerate During Middle 2 Weeks

Posted by on July 18, 2017

After establishing our rhythm in the early part of the summer, we can push a little harder on the gas pedal and see what adventures await us during weeks 3 and 4. Some campers have decided to challenge themselves with a new activity (or two) while others strive for greater mastery in favorite activities.  We see campers testing their balance and focus by giving log rolling a try at the waterfront while playing soccer with brooms gives a “twist” to an old favorite!

It is SO EXCITING to hear the many announcements of campers passing levels at evening assembly: staying up on skis in choppy water, making a mooring for the first time, learning to canter, mastering a skill in gymnastics, or earning a qualifier in archery. Campers start to EXPLODE with accomplishments during the middle 2 weeks of camp – it is fun to watch them BURST with confidence like never before!

Having been together for a while, cabin groups usually discover that not everyone agrees all of the time. We embrace this opportunity for the real work of camp to begin! A number of cabins are taking a canoe trip for a fun bonding experience and a change of routine this week. There is something about paddling to a destination, cooking over a fire, and sleeping in a tent that provides an opportunity for campers to connect in a way that is different from being at “home” in the cabin. We also offer two ropes course excursions at this point in the summer for the oldest campers so that they are able to further challenge their leadership skills and foster teamwork and trust as key elements for unity as a group.

Song Contest and Gold Rush are highlights of this 2-week period.  With the support of the counselors, groups come together and appreciate each other’s unique gifts and strengths while preparing for Song Contest. I am always amazed at what cabins can do when they put their heads together, change the words to a song, add in some creative dance moves, and practice for an all-camp performance. Behind the smiling faces during show time is the teamwork, negotiation, compromise, and problem-solving that went into accomplishing a common goal.  Hilltop girls had their act together on Saturday night and dazzled the judges with their performance to earn the coveted 1st place award for this event.

During Gold Rush, campers stay together as a cabin group and work to figure out the location of the Mother Lode.  Meanwhile, CIT’s dressed in red vests interrupt their progress by having the girls sing a Woodland song, do a fun challenge, spend time in “jail”, or be cooled off by a blast of water from their ever-ready squirt guns.  Campers find “fools gold” and turn it in to the assayers office for money to buy Red-Eye (bug juice) or clues.  Clues are general at first and then turn specific over the course of the afternoon so that cabins are able to hone in on the biggest prize of all.  The Treetops girls made sense of all the riddles and hints that led them to find the big gold rock under the beach house near the buddy board!

Take Aim at Camp Woodland Target Sports

Posted by on July 13, 2017

This week we are taking aim at the Target Sports program at Camp Woodland.  Both Archery and Riflery are popular activities at camp – there are 11 total classes offered for  2nd sign-up!  If we head up to the range, these individual sports provide opportunities for many skills beyond shooting either a bow and gun to be practiced and developed.

Archery is about focus and consistency.  Archers pick a point down range and focus their aim and then work to have consistent bow placement and pull in addition to having a consistent stance.  Campers practice patience, concentration, tenacity, persistence, goal setting and how to overcome frustration when the arrow doesn’t quite stick where they would like it to go!  Instructors Caroline, Alexis, and Sofia S with the help of CIT assists Sofia G and Valentina coach campers to make small adjustments that often make a big difference in accuracy.  There is a lot of self-talk in target sports and listening to that “little voice” in your head that is saying, “you got this!”

Campers set goals to pass levels that increase in difficulty based on overall distance from the target and number of points needed.  Beginner archers start out by working for their White Yoeman (shooting at 10 yards for 80 total points).  Next are White Bowman (10 yards for 120 points) and White Archer (10 yards for 180 points).  As proficiency is achieved, beginner archers move on to farther distances with the ultimate goal of becoming of one of Woodland’s famous “Golden Archers” (50 yards).

Success at the riflery range relies on the ability of the shooter to simultaneously focus on the target and her position.  Campers learn to hold their breath as they take aim and shoot.  They also work on using the strap to stabilize and provide correct placement of the gun.  In time and with the help of Instructors Daphne and Aranxta and CIT assists Amelia, Estefi, and Barbie, campers find the right position that prevents their elbows from giving a steady aim.  Campers also learn how to score their own targets so that they can keep track of their progress.

At Woodland, there are 14 levels in the riflery program that provide a graduated challenge of distance and accuracy at four different positions.  Campers begin learning to shoot in a prone position and then progress to sitting, kneeling, and finally standing.  To pass the first level (Pro-marksman) campers must score 20 points from the prone position.  Accuracy increases by 5 points at each level until 40 points is reached for the various positions before advancing.  The final rank in Woodland’s riflery program is Expert, where a camper works to shoot a score of 40 from 5 shots, standing.  It takes a lot of patience and persistence over the course of multiple years to reach this goal!



It Never Rains at Camp Woodland!

Posted by on July 11, 2017

Tamarack girls perform “We’re In This Together”

In case you didn’t know, it never rains at Camp Woodland for Girls!  How is this possible you ask?  We just get a little (or a lot) of “dew” as the case was on Sunday.  Woodland Girls do not let gray weather dampen our spirits…the “show must go on”!  One of the most highly anticipated rainy day activities is the ever popular Lip Sync Contest.  I can remember dry summers when we actually got to the 4th or 5th week of camp and the campers were praying for a “dewey” day just so that they could have the Lip Sync Contest!

Sunnyside dons some brightly colored costumes!

Lip Sync Contest is the perfect cabin bonding activity.  With the help of their counselors, campers negotiate which song will be chosen for the performance, and then they must come together to decide on costumes, props, and dance moves.  It is not unusual to see hairbrushes used as microphones and other interesting items appear such as a broom and dustpan.  This year Hilltop incorporated canes into their number and cleverly changed the words to a song to be “I’ll Make JoAnne Out of You”.  Counselor Chelsea dressed as JoAnne (pencils in her hair) while Silver Birch grabbed Counselor Paige to be part of their act.  Jenna, the Live-In CIT from Sunnyside was “all in” with her gold tights and neon green fuzzy boots!

“I’ll Make JoAnne Out of You” by Hilltop

Tamarack brought back a High School Musical tune, “We’re In This Together”, Treetops did a Justin Bieber song, “One Time”, and the CIT’s we’re rock stars in their rendition of “Stick to the Status Quo”.  Starshine’s award winning performance was a “mash up” of “I Will Survive” and “Survivor”.  If truth be told, Starshine decided on the songs they were going to use prior to the actual Lip Sync Contest – what dedication!  Sarah and Katie (Live-In CIT’s) were dressed in all black and wearing sunglasses for a very dramatic instrumental intro to set the tone for a 1st place finish!

As you can see from the smiling faces in each photo, the annual Lip Sync Contest is all about “Creating Your Own Scene” and is a ton of FUN!

Starshine is the 2017 Lip Sync Contest Winner!

It’s All Fun and Games or Is It?!

Posted by on July 4, 2017

Independence Day is quite a celebration around here!  The CIT’s kick off our multi-day event by hosting 4th of July Games the Sunday before the actual holiday.  Woodland alum will recognize perennial favorites such as the clothes relay down the Woodland Road, water balloon toss, orange pass, shave a balloon, and water relay (just to name a few!).

In addition to a multitude of laughs and memories to recount later to friends and family, there is a LOT more embedded within an afternoon of fun and games than just meets the eye.  I’m sure it is no surprise that there is a noticeable decline in the amount of time spent playing for both kids and adults.  Busy schedules drive us from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until our head hits the pillow at night.  The great news is that there is an abundance of play at Camp Woodland!  Play is what we do!

In a TEDMED Talk Jill Vialet shares that “It is easy to dismiss play as trivial and unimportant; however, there is nothing farther from the truth.  Play is kids’ work in that it is a form of experiential learning that contributes directly to a person’s ability to handle failure, to work in teams, and to take risks.”  (Jill sounds like she must have spent some time hanging out with Mr. and Mrs. Jordan at camp!)

If a very large balloon covered in shaving cream pops during one of the games, then a camper is faced with an opportunity to gracefully handle the situation.  Learning not to take things seriously and to laugh at oneself are good qualities to master for more challenging dilemmas down the road.  Being able help your teammates maneuver through the giant “spider web” requires an enormous amount of trust on the part of each individual.  The awkwardness of passing an orange from person to person is great practice being silly and not caring what other people think.  Playing offers a multitude of little ways to step out of our comfort zones and make frequent deposits in our confidence banks.  This will pay huge dividends later!

According to Jill Vialet, play matters because:

  1. it provides a brief respite from the tyranny of apparent purpose (I guarantee campers are not thinking about the final math test they took at the end of the semester during the water balloon toss!).
  2. it compels us to choose to say, “I care” and better come to know ourselves (Stuffing a giant marshmallow in your mouth is a great way to do just that!).
  3. people matter and it reminds us of our interdependence with others.  It gives us a chance to see other people and in turn to be really and truly seen (There is a whole wide world out there, and it is a lot of fun to play with others!).

Can’t wait for the annual 4th of July Campfire tonight at Towering Pines!  

References: More Than Fun and Games – Play Matters by Nancy Brown (Huffington Post) and TEDMED Talk by Jill Vialet.

A special shout out to Bill Gonio (friend and former staff at Towering Pines) for giving me permission to “borrow” a few key phrases from one of his 2014 blog posts!  As always, thanks, Bill, for your inspiration!