Camp Woodland Blog

Friendsgiving: Anywhere and Anytime

Here’s a math problem to solve: Camp Reunion + Thanksgiving = ???? (^hint: look at the title of the blog^)

It was super fun to gather in the Chicago area this past weekend for a reunion of camp friends – both Woodland and TP (Friendsgiving)! Campers and staff were together for part of the afternoon to catch up on the past few months, share memories and stories of summers past, and build excitement for “Opening New Doors in ’24”! It was just like being back at camp during Fair Day…snacks were served and games were played (with prizes!). Some of our favorite CIT’s were on hand to infuse camp spirit, and, of course, cameras documented the event (hence the photos you see here).

One of the things I have learned over the years is that campers (and staff) return to camp because of the people. Sure, activities and traditions are part of the draw to come back to County D Road. However, these wouldn’t be the same without the individuals who are there to create the memories we rely on this time of year when summer is still over a half a year away.

The ecosystem of camp is such that the bonds of friendship are strong because of the welcoming community from the beginning. The staff are really good at helping campers integrate into the camp experience and intentional about giving them organic opportunities to meet and learn about each other in an authentic way. It doesn’t take long for the seeds of friendship to grow!

Towards the end of the summer, we asked campers to reflect on what it looks like when they are being a good friend at camp (and would love for this to spill over into being a friend at home and school!).

When I am being a good friend at camp I am:


Audrey: helping cheer them up; Amelia/Georgia: helping; Evie: kind, respectful and responsive; Jaclyn/Eleanor: being kind;  JoJo: having fun; Luci: thoughtful and respectful; Fiona/Oli: including others; Oli: being nice

Silver Birch

Alice/Masyn: being kind and helpful; Elyse: helping others and being thoughtful; Clara: helping people and being myself; Lia: happy; Mojo: welcoming; Roberta: nice and kind; Ana Roberta: when I don’t get angry; Maya (CIT): talking/including others


Eloise: making others feel at home; Maggie: helping others; Olivia H: nice; Casilda: nice to them; Renata/Camila: empathetic; Dani (CIT): patient


Hannah: me; Orla: happy; Maddie H: a good listener; Amelia: helping everyone no matter what; Maddie B: calm; Nat (CIT): being empathetic and myself


Julia: helping others; Regi: proud of myself for having awesome friends; Natalia: nice and helpful; Olive: helping others when they are homesick; Sophia: understanding, positive, respectful; Casi: always helping; Taylor: comforting them; Tess (CIT): not fighting when things get hard


Zoe: funny/kind; Alix: kind and thoughtful; Stella: chillin’; Amelia: nice, understanding, respectful; Phoebe: proud, happy, positive; Clara: happy; Olivia: there for them; Sydney: happy; Isabella (CIT): having fun


Vale: feeling good and happy; Marion: friendly; Lizzie: including others; Bella: kind and respectful to others; Izzy: making new friends in activities; Elizabeth: being nice and inclusive; Katherine: super happy


Sofia: empathetic; Delia: open; Lou: making people laugh; Lizzy: thoughtful and not annoying; Lizzie: helping others feel better; Kaitlyn: respectful; Lilah: being kind

Friendsgiving: Anywhere and Anytime!

The gathering in Chicago was the kickstart to camp reunions anywhere, anytime! It is EASY to host your own FRIENDSGIVING for camp friends where you are. Let us know HERE that you are interested, and we will help get it organized!


Now is a GREAT time to enroll your camper/s for 2024 and reserve your spot/s. Sign up HERE:

Revving Up for the CWTP Reunion

What seems like a million years ago when we lived in Texas, I would dread the November weekend each year when somewhere around 400,000 people on 150,000 motorcycles joined the residents of Galveston Island for the Lone Star Rally. I would listen to bikes of all shapes and sizes drive by all day (and all night). In looking back on that time, I can’t help but think how the bikers were really just coming to the Island for their yearly reunion. And, we are about to do the same thing ourselves when Woodland/TP campers and staff come together this coming weekend for an afternoon with camp friends in the Chicago area.

I’m sure the Lone Star Rally revs up each year as the weeks and days draw closer in anticipation of meeting up with friends who haven’t seen each other for a period of time. Bikers gather at their favorite restaurants to catch up on the events that have passed between visits, enjoy rides along the beach and other scenic routes, meet new friends, and make plans for future opportunities to do what they love (ride motorcycles). In many ways, this annual biker weekend is one giant family reunion.

Sound familiar?! The excitement for gathering at the Northfield Community Church on Saturday, November 18th is building as campers and staff make plans to spend a few hours together at the annual reunion the weekend before Thanksgiving. We are also making it possible for campers and staff who do not live in the Chicago area to “pop in” on Zoom to say hello to cabin mates and friends. What if it’s been more than a year since you have been to camp OR if this will be your first time? We would love for any former campers/staff (once a part of the Woodland/TP camp family, always a part of our camp family!) and new campers who will be joining us in 2024 to stop by. Please feel free to bring along any friends from home who might want to learn more about the TWO BEST CAMPS AROUND! 

The video from the recent summer will be shown, scrapbooks containing numerous camp photos will be passed around, stories from the past summer will be retold, school year events will be shared, and plans for next year will be made to DO WHAT WE LOVE AT CAMP (and of course, we will enjoy an assortment of yummy snacks!).  And, yes, this weekend will be one giant family reunion!

 We can’t wait to see you on Saturday, November 18th from 3:30-5:00 pm CST!  Please RSVP HERE to let us know you are coming. Check your email to get the Zoom link to join virtually (4-5 pm). p.s. Motorcycles/bikes welcome!

It Starts by Making Your Bed Each Morning

As I struggled to straighten the sheets, blankets and pillows on my bed this morning, I am reminded that one of the first things I do at camp each day is make my top bunk bed. I stand on the frame of the bottom bunk and wrangle the thick comforter (that is out of view at the foot of the bed in the photo below – gotta love the often chilly Northern Wisconsin summer nights!) and other bedding items into place. I then get dressed and place my PJ’s on my pillow so they are in position for my evening routine. Now I am truly ready to start my day!

We often hear from parents in those first days/weeks after camp, that their camper/s is/are faithful about making her bed every morning, picking up clutter around the bedroom/house, brushing teeth, and pitching in with daily chores without batting an eye. My question is…is your camper still in the habit of doing those beginning of day routines?

Truth be told, I can honestly say that I am not great about this particular ritual once I am home from camp. For one, there is a good chance that my husband is still sleeping when I get up (especially on weekends), so it is kind of hard to make a bed when someone is in it! Then I get busy with other routines: making coffee, assembling a yogurt parfait for my husband’s car ride to work, taking the dogs for a walk, exercising, etc. By the time I get through with all of that, I may straighten out the sheets a bit and take a quick pass at the top cover with a lint roller to remove the excess of dog hair, but that is about it. Many days, I completely forget about my unmade bed and jump into other tasks and projects (which usually does not include taking a shower!).

In listening recently to part of a commencement speech given by Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven and reading the first chapter of his book “Make Your Bed,” I am rethinking the importance of what often seems at surface level to be a very mundane and insubstantial task. McRaven even goes so far to say, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” Wow, what?! How does making my bed help me change the world? Explanation, please! As you may know, Navy SEAL training is some of the toughest training around, both physically and mentally. Each day starts with an inspection of the uniform and bed by an instructor with a critical eye for neatness and perfection.

McRaven actually didn’t mind the simple task of making his bed while in the Navy – he came to appreciate that it was the one constant he could count on every day. It was the one thing he knew he could do without fail. And, he could do it well. It was something to be proud of. Being the first of many tasks in a given 24 hours, sometimes success can be measured just by completing something (even if it is small). If one task is completed, then follows another and another. Next thing you know, a whole string of tasks have been executed, and from that comes a sense of pride and accomplishment. Sometimes in a world where there is little control, making your bed IS the one sure thing in your control. Why not begin each day with a win?!

All campers and staff start the day by making their bed (and why snuggling up in a sleeping bag is a fun change of pace on a canoe overnight adventure as you see in the photos). It is even part of the “scoring” for when the nurse and CIT on duty come around to “inspect” cabins. Having a neat bed may be the difference in earning a pizza party or trip to Cathy’s for being the cabin with the high “score” at the end of each week. Making your bed is the beginning of many opportunities to be successful throughout the camp day. From there it might be that a bullseye is hit in archery, a horse can be approached without being nervous, a mooring is made in sailing, a new food is tried at lunch, water-skiing is attempted during Rec Swim, and participating in skit at campfire becomes fun (and not dreaded).

Being away from camp at this moment in time, what if we get back to the routine of starting the day off with a simple, yet achievable task? The mere act of making the bed can then lead to turning in homework on time, asking a question in class, sitting by someone outside a friend group in the cafeteria, feeling confident before a quiz or test, finishing a report a few days before it is due, complimenting someone on their effort on the field or court, and so much more.

I know I’m going to work at doing better to make MY bed each morning. A win in the first 5 minutes of the day sounds like a no-brainer! Will you and your camper/s join me? It might just be a little thing that turns into some BIGGER things that change how things go in life AND in the world.


Campers Share What They Learned This Summer

I think it is safe to say that our campers have made their “back to school” debut for the 2023-24 year. Backpacks filled with a beach towel, sweatshirt, tennis raquet and riding boots from the summer have been traded in for one that carries lunch, completed homework, a calculator, and a binder or two. It is exciting to dive into the topics that each grade will explore for the new school year. Let the learning begin!

So often, we hear about the learning loss that occurs during the summer from having too much time away from school.  As a teacher who has spent 35+ summers at camp, I would like to propose that children who go to summer camp, actually experience just the opposite. Kids who spend their summer at camp have a learning surplus. While I do not have any scientific data to back this claim, I can share with you what your campers reported learning during the recent summer. Based on the wording of the question that was asked, their responses are (mostly) activity based; however, there are a few campers who recognized other kinds of learning that occurred in the Soaring Free in ’23 summer. Campers also shared the camp activities they wish they could do at home – it is interesting to see the differences in the “favorites” from cabin to cabin.


Audrey: the point system and how to shoot in archery; Amelia: how to capsize and new strokes in canoeing; Evie: a lot about bugs and insects; Jaclyn: how to hold the reins and control your horse in riding; Eleanor: how to trot; JoJo: how to post when trotting; Luci: to make cool stuff in arts & crafts like fairy houses; Georgia: parts of the boat in sailing; Fiona: how to trot in riding; Oli: doing a split front walkover and aerial in gymnastics

Activities we wish we could do at home: Drama, Archery (3), Riding (4), Farm Zoo (2), Sailing, Rec Swim

Silver Birch

Alice: how to shoot a bow and arrow; Elyse: riding a horse; Clara: trotting in riding; Masyn: a front hand spring and aerial in gymnastics; Lia: how to set up a boat for sailing; Mojo: a back bend in gymnastics and emergency dismount in riding; Roberta: playing rollout in tennis; Ana Roberta: painting; Maya (CIT): passing my expert!

Activities we wish we could do at home: Farm Zoo, Riding, Riflery (2), Sailing (2), All of them!, Gymnastics,


Eloise: tie a slip on figure 8 knot; Maggie: a handstand into a bridge in gymnastics; Olivia H: trot and do my own stirrups in riding; Casilda: the parts of an X-boat and how to tack in sailing; I love my counselors and cabin; I love tennis and sailing; Renata: new strokes in swimming; Camila: shooting a gun in riflery; Dani (CIT): patience, parts of the boat, hard terminology, theories, committee rules, how to use a spinnaker in sailing

Activities we wish we could do at home: Riding, Rec Swim (2), Riflery (3), Tennis, Sailing,


Hannah: making flowers in Arts & Crafts; Orla: how to dive!; Maddie H: make a basket; Amelia: literaly everything in sailing!; Maddie B: the rhythm of posting in riding; Nat (CIT): how to shoot from a sitting position and score targets in riflery

Activities we wish we could do at home: Tennis, Riflery, Archery (3), Swim lessons, Canoeing,


Julia: rules of doubles matches in tennis; Regi: improving my strokes in swimming; Natalia: perfecting the details of my strokes in swimming; Olive: how to sail and capsize; Sophia: parts of boat, points of wind, how to heel and race in sailing; Casi: a handstand to a bridge in gymnastics; Taylor: I didn’t know how to sail before; Tess (CIT): how to handle horses that are acting out and train new horses

Activities we wish we could do at home: Arts & Crafts, Riflery, Riding (5), Sailing, Water-skiing/All of them!


Zoe: tips to stay steady when shooting in riflery; Alix: squeeze legs in riding; Stella: caring for the animals in Farm Zoo and how to shoot a gun; Amelia: how to serve in tennis; Phoebe: how to do the “gooseneck”, and set up and take down the main sail and jib in sailing; Clara: to just enjoy where you are at the moment!; Olivia: how to shoot in riflery; Sydney: passing levels in tennis; Isabella (CIT): working on sail boats and directing a drama show

Activities we wish we could do at home: Riflery (6), Farm Zoo, Water-skiing, Archery (2), Sailing


Vale: how to do a proper start in sail race; Marion: making fudgy cherry pies in canoeing; Lizzie: how to do strokes accurately in swimming; Bella: serving in tennis and points of sail; Izzy: how to canter in riding; Elizabeth: where my sail should be based on various conditions/points of sail; Katherine: how to handle a misbehaving horse and parts of a horse

Activities we wish we could do at home: Riflery, Tennis, Sailing (3), Water-skiing, Archery


Sofia: how to ride properly; Delia: I learned A LOT in sailing; Lou: planning/strategizing a race in sailing before I actually do it; Lizzy: the rules of tennis; Lizzie: making flowers in Arts & Crafts; Kaitlyn: to keep the string on the bow pulled back by my ear in archery; Lilah: don’t fall off a horse!

Activities we wish we could do at home: Archery (3), Riding, Sailing (2), Riflery (2), Canoeing

As you can see, there is no such thing as learning loss while spending an amazing summer at camp! The typical day at camp is packed with learning experiences that are EVEN BETTER than a typical day at school. And that is coming straight from the keyboard of a math teacher!!!


To continue the learning curve during the summer months, now is a GREAT time to enroll your camper/s for 2024 and reserve your spot/s. Sign up HERE:

Parents and Campers Share “Soaring Free” Moments

A BIG thank you to our camp families for taking the time respond to our end-of-season survey and giving valuable feedback about the recent summer so that we can continue to improve as we make plans for 2024. Our theme this summer was “Soaring Free in ’23,” and from the comments we received from parents about the transformations being noticed at home after spending time with us, it obvious that your camper/s soared quite high!


Because our survey responses come together for both Woodland and Towering Pines, and many camp families have children at both, they are co-mingled here:

Our daughter has become more adventurous with her food choices which is great! They are both learning to be more independent and try new things.

As every summer, the kids have come home more independent and mature. This year, they also seem closer to each other since they were both in coed show and got to share that experience.

Our son seems a lot more mature; we can tell that he’s gained life perspective and is not as addicted to devices which is great. He’s been much more talkative with all of us and he’s gained significant skills in meeting new people on his own and talking with them.

**I see them more talkative and they both seem really happy with their experiences. **Maturing and willingness to work hard on goals. **More confident, social, self confident, mature. Growth. ** Both kids are more capable, independent, and embracing of challenges. Also, they seem to have a more mature attitude about life. ** Confident (!) and able to walk into situations with unknown kids/adults and not feel overwhelmed! **

** Independence in our daughter. Compassion and inclusion in our son. **Increased confidence, independence, and adventurousness. ** Increased confidence, trying new things. ** More confidence around tennis. ** She is now officially a camp kid! Loved it! **Self esteem, open to try new things. ** He’s become more active and is eating better. **

** Better sense of self. ** She is more of a leader and doing things outside her comfort level. ** He is more confident, has more independence, smiles more and more often. ** I can see that he is more open, he gained self confidence, and made new friends. ** Confident, healthy, happy, and I can’t wait for her to go back so she gets a break from her phone obsession (ha!). **


Towards the end of camp, each girl had the opportunity to share her thoughts on what “soaring free in ’23” looked like (all campers whose form we received are included here):


Audrey: trying new things and making new friends, being a good friend; Amelia: making new friends that are different from me; Evie: meeting new friends, fun; Jaclyn: trying new things and being myself; Eleanor: trying really hard in all of my activities; JoJo: having a lot of fun with all of my friends at camp; Luci: trying new things; Georgia: trying new things and being kind and open to everybody; Fiona: having fun at camp with new activities; Oli: trying oatmeal and new activities

Silver Birch

Alice: first time going to a sleep away camp that I really liked and felt like I grew at; Elyse: trying new foods and activities, making new friends; Clara: being myself and having fun (and MUCH, MUCH MORE!); Masyn: in the breeze was an eagle so kind and he helped me find this place; Lia: having fun and being myself; Mojo: learning space; Roberta: nice, welcoming, happy; Ana Roberta: mi verano esta muy paque y escanlar; Maya (CIT): trying my best


Eloise: a girl trying new things; Maggie: I tried kneeboarding; Olivia H: trying new things; Casilda: I tried riflery and archery, and I also really like dance; I love my counselors and cabin; I love tennis and sailing; Renata: fun and awesome; Camila: being at camp; Dani (CIT): amazing – I made a lot of good friends, and I want to keep in touch with them…it was a break from home


Hannah: great!; Orla: fun and free to be me; Maddie H: trying new things and achieving stuff in 2023; Amelia: passing up to my blue archer; Maddie B: trying new things; Nat (CIT): enjoyable, fun, new


Julia: fun, trying new things and being friends with new people; Regi: wonderful, new chances and a lot of fun!; Natalia: fun, unforgettable and joyful; Olive: meeting new people and doing things I would never do; Sophia: being yourself without being judged, being able to be who you are, brave, confident; Casi: a really fun summer that I loved a lot; Taylor: learning new things and starting new beginnings; Tess (CIT): enjoying my activities for the activity and not the level


Zoe: it was great, and I progressed so much; Alix: learning a lot in riding; Stella: being my most authentic self and finding activities that make me happy!; Amelia: experiencing new things, making new friends and starting new beginnings; Phoebe: being myself and being brave; Clara: fun, loving, and super filled with friends; Olivia: learning how to shoot in riflery; Sydney: passing levels; Isabella (CIT): being myself and having fun


Vale: a great year with all my friends while enjoying the activities that I love to do the most; Marion: fun, friendly, free, amazing; Lizzie: having soooooo much fun; Bella: getting to meet new people and trying new things; Izzy: doing the activities that I like and having a great cabin; Elizabeth: one of the best years ever!; Katherine: just living life with amazing friends and things to do without stress or anxiety


Sofia: a great opportunity to try something new; Delia: being on the water and enjoying sailing; Lou: learning a ton in sail race; Lizzy: having fun; Lizzie: being open to others sharing feelings and being free in spirit; Kaitlyn: hanging out with friends and learning how to be a good CIT; Lilah: having fun and slaying every day


While feelings are at an all time high from the summer, now is a GREAT time to enroll your camper/s for 2024 and reserve your spot/s before we open registration for new campers. The early bird discount ($750 deposit, 5% off 2024 rate) for all returning campers has been extended through 9/8/23 when registering for 6 weeks: