Monthly Archives:December 2013

Natalia’s Greatest Gift…..

IMG_7532Right around this time we start to look back on our year, and since we (as part of the TP/W family) spend a considerable part of ours in the Northwoods of Wisconsin,  we go back and go through camp pictures. It is impossible for me to put into words how much Camp Woodland has shaped my life, but, in the spirit of giving and sharing this Holiday season, I can say it is, along with Towering Pines, one of the biggest gifts my family has ever received but never really expected or asked for in a way. I don’t think my parents knew what they were getting themselves into when they sent my brother and I over 10 years ago to an American summer camp, but it was the best decision they would ever make regarding us, their youngest son, and eventually all my younger cousins.

Camp, I have learned, is the gift of true friendship, one that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, and this statement must not be taken lightly.  My family and I have made friends there that will last for a lifetime and that is something you do not want your daughter to go without.

Camp is the gift of strength. Of acquiring it; of knowing your limits, of wanting to expand themselves; striving to be the best you can be. It is not only physical, but emotional. You learn to cooperate and to live and breath diversity. Camp is the gift of love and laughter, of leadership and skill. This was very important for an awkward kid like myself, who had never been on a horse, or on a boat or away from my parents for so long.

IMG_6312Woodland presented itself to me as the opportunity for discovering I could do things I never even knew existed. What more would a kid ask from life? Towering Pines and Camp Woodland are the perfect present even when we are not there. It takes about 1.4 seconds to think about one’s personal favorite place at camp and your problems are basically solved for the day. Camp is the gift of wind in your face when biking down the road, water splashing on the edge of sailboats, the smells of pizza after a long day of very hard work and the excitement right before Coed-Show on a Thursday afternoon. What days are more perfect than those? I can think of none.

10 years later I still can’t wait for June to come around. It may seem like it is still too far down the line, but, as a family, you probably will not have many breaks like this one to talk about your summer plans again, so it is never to early to start discussing it, just a tip.

But most importantly, for a lot of us, I like to believe, camp gifted with one thing: the love for music. It is everywhere. In every corner, in every cabin, in every campfire and hall. In the sunsets and sunrises, when we’re all together and even when we are not. Pictures burn, get lost, we don’t like them, people change. But songs linger, melodies remain and people never forget the songs that made them fall in love with the place we all call home away from home.


Happy Holidays  Camp family (and all of our new families too!)

– Natalia O
Director of Dance at Camp Woodland
10th year at Camp Woodland 

Traveling for the holidays? Don’t forget to….

1) Pack something with the Woodland logo

(t-shirt, water bottle, Crazy Creek, etc),

2) Have someone take your picture in a FUN location with you

WEARING, HOLDING, or USING the camp item (with logo visible), and

3) Email us your photo so that it can be entered into the WEAR IN THE WORLD?” CONTEST

photos will be posted on Pinterest (and Instagram…coming soon!)

(winner to be announced at camp THIS summer — prize will be awarded!)


Hanna (Woodland sweatshirt) visits the Statue of Liberty (Parker in green)


Andrea (Woodland jacket) is standing near the Angel of Independence in Mexico (Sofia in white)


Colette (Woodland sweatshirt) is on vacation at Disney World (with “Minnie” friends Chelsea and Elena)

Eiffel Tower

Ali (Woodland sweatshirt) tours the Eiffel Tower (Claire)

Staying at home for the holidays?  Find a cool spot in your hometown and take a picture!


JoAnne, Lee, and Kim are in front of wall art at a Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers in Lee’s neighborhood in VA

Camp Friendships – Empowering Girls at Camp Woodland

This is a must read and be warned, you may tear up too! Thank you Natalie B for taking us back through your camp memories.  A true testament of summer and lifelong friendship.

On the morning of June 21, 2003, I started off my summer where I believe many new campers do: standing in the doorway of my cabin, pillow clutched in one hand and stuffed animal clutched in the other, absolutely terrified. Excited, yes, but terrified. At eight years old, circumstances hadn’t yet mandated that I have the abilities to make my own friends; my mom would set up play dates for me, and I would follow along blindly with a smile and the promise of delicious snacks at my playmates’ houses. I had the luxury of getting along with others in a way that only a little girl who isn’t yet sharply individualized can.


First Summer at Camp – 2003

But that changed when I arrived at camp. Suddenly, I found myself in a situation where compatibility was defined not by a mutual elementary school classroom, but by our very lifestyles, interests, and behaviors. Camp is unique in that it is capable of bringing out the essence of someone’s personality within six short weeks, and it is upon those intrinsic characteristics that we form our friendships. As such, my fears were not unfounded. It is no small pressure to be assessed in your most natural state of being for the first time in your life. What I didn’t know then was that this is camp’s most valuable quality: it makes every memory more real, every relationship stronger. Not to mention that the environment still allows for malleability—still allows for acceptance and patience and growth. Being as oblivious as I was, though, my fear was very real and very present.


Cabin Unity Campfire – Summer 2007

As it was, if someone had told me then that I was standing within ten feet of the girls whom I would soon count among my lifelong best friends, my look of skepticism would have been painfully evident. But it was undeniably, irrevocably true. Even now, after knowing my four closest friends—all of whom I met on that first day—for eleven years, it’s hard to believe that girls who are so fundamentally different can intertwine so closely, as if they are separate parts of one person. However, the situation I found myself in is not remarkable at camp: the connections happen all the time, every summer; friendships are forged in the seemingly unlikeliest of circumstances and prove to last a lifetime.


Counselors in Training – Summer 2011

The core problem was this: I believed—and I think we all did—that the friendship we fostered for the past eleven years was one based on chance. And in a shallow sense, it was. If the five of us hadn’t chosen to attend the same camp during the same summer, everything might have been different. But we attribute the success of our friendship more to the functions of the universe and fate than we do the very thing that allowed us to bond in the first place: camp.

The truth is that Camp Woodland didn’t bring us together, at least not on an emotional level. Camp opened its arms to each of us as individuals, and then proceeded to give us the tools, within mere days and weeks, to embrace diversity. So that ultimately, the young girls who were unexpectedly set apart by lifestyles, interests, and behaviors quickly learned that individuality makes us invaluable, that tolerance makes us versatile. These were important lessons to understand when it came to being a seamless addition to the fabric of the larger community. In short, we became friends because we learned to live with and love each other. I don’t think there is another place on earth that can produce the same phenomenal outcome.

Fast forward to now, my freshman year of college, which found me in a similar position as that first day of camp: standing in the doorway of a new environment that I was required to mold into a home for myself (sans stuffed animal, but equally as terrified). And maybe if I had never realized what eleven summers at Camp Woodland taught me about diversity, I would have found myself stuck in the belief that, after eighteen years, I had never been able to form my own relationships because circumstance had done it for me. Instead, I put a smile on my face, walked into my dorm room, and started making my own bed (like any true Woodland girl would) with a tranquil conscience. Because I know that camp hasn’t afforded me the privilege of making friendships for me; rather, it has given me the indispensible skill of mastering diversity and nudged me into taking my first step into a new world for which I am ready.

And if I stumble, I know my friends will be there to help me through. I have Camp Woodland to thank for that.


Junior Counselors – Summer 2013


-Natalie B, Freshman at University of Wisconsin


Camp Reunion? More Like Family Reunion!

Special shout out to the ladies of  Sunnyside, especially Elena, for writing about the camper reunion!

DSC08952Before Thanksgiving, the campers and counselors gathered together for our annual Camp Reunion. There were lots of hugs to go around, memories to be shared, and things to be thankful for. It started off as usual: the running into cabin mates’ arms, seeing the Jordans’ smiling faces, and the feeling as though you were back at camp just for a day. Everyone huddled around the TV for this year’s camp video, in a similar fashion to those Wednesday night campfires. Traveling back in time and watching the best moments of the summer from the epic shows, daily activities, and crazy Sunday games. We all sat close to our cabin mates and counselors eating delicious cookies and popcorn, catching up with each other, and going around finding out what new and exciting things everyone has been up to this year. Counselors came around taking pictures of all the cabins and there was nothing that could feel more like camp. Personally, my favorite part was looking at the incredible scrapbooks. A picture is worth a thousand words and so is camp. After that we all took turns writing on leaves of what we were thankful for about camp and, as imagined, the list could go on forever. We may have a long year ahead of us before the summer comes around again but this reunion was definitely successful in showing how big of a family Woodland is and filling that long gap from this summer to next summer.

Couldn’t attend?? Click here to see the rest of the reunion photos on the camp photo site!

Thanks to the CITs for interviewing the rest of the Camp Woodland campers/staff:

DSC08937• Collette V: taking Spanish; went to Mexico in October; paddle-boarding

• Chelsea T: taking dance (ballet, hip-hop, jazz); went to London in October

• Daphne B: taking tennis lessons and playing the clarinet in band

• Elena K: played volleyball this fall; plays the violin in the orchestra, trying out for a part in Mulan

• Jessica S: in show choir, getting ready for Christmas and Spring Musical (Legally Blond)

• Claire P: taking sailing

• Caroline P: is a volunteer tutor

• Jackie J: school and homework, played on freshman tennis team this fall at Glenbrook North, excited to be a CIT in 2014!

• Amelia D: on Student Council; taking dance and horseback riding

• Molly J: read “Moral Instruments” series in 2 months

• Shelby J: has a bunny (Daisy) and 5 dogs

• Kelly J: Language Arts, enjoying playing club soccer (fall and spring: outdoor, winter: indoor), taking modern and hip-hop dance, looking forward to horseback riding

• Ana DLF: doing physical therapy for her hip, spending a week with Jackie and Kelly and will be going to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving, looking forward to being a CIT

• Sofia DLF (via Ana): plays tennis and does horseback riding at home; looking forward to seeing her friends at camp

• Cayley V: playing club volleyball

• Aubrie B: taking care of baby bunnies; doing competitive ice skating

• Parker H: has a rabbit named “Cinnamon”

• Taylor H: has a rabbit named “Sugar”

• Jenna K: taking “point” dance

• Sofia S: in school choir and is a singer in a rock band; in Chicago Children’s Choir; played volleyball

• Sam M: travel soccer and meeting new people

• Eden A: went to Arizona for a week

• Gianna C: learned to jump in riding

• Nicole C: Cantar! She is also a cheerleader

• Abby S: met Harry Styles (so lucky!)

• Georgia S: plays basketball, volleyball, and soccer

• Libby B: tennis

• Grace G: gives “Catching Fire” 4 stars; plays club volleyball; went to Nashville in September and will be traveling to Vancouver in March

• Lydia M: plays volleyball and the flute

• Irene M: plays the trumpet

• Claire S: on the travel volleyball team

• Grace B: volunteers at a barn for those with physical challenges; taking a creative cuisine class and is learning how to make a variety of recipes; looking forward to being a CIT

• Rachel P: will be a 1st year camper in 2014; does dance (ballet); likes playing and hanging out with friends; is looking forward to horseback riding

• Grace C: on varsity gymnastics team and making college visits

• Alex K: getting excited to hear back from colleges; taking debate; working as a tutor in the reading/writing center; planning to get lifeguarding certification before camp next summer

• Natalie B: enjoying her freshman year at the University of WI (Madison) where she is studying political science



• Liz H (via Betty): teaching 1st grade English in Gwang-Jiu, Korea

• Becca H (via Betty): in vet school

• Callah D (via Susan): in her senior year at Concordia College in Milwaukee

• Susan D: working at Uncle Dan’s Great Outdoor Store in Highland Park and enjoying her grandkids

• Kim A: tutoring students grades 3-12+ in Math, presenting workshops at various camp conferences, living in both Georgia and Texas