Monthly Archives:July 2014

Camp Woodland Passed the “Test”!

Posted by on July 19, 2014

When we think of tests, we often think of being in school and the exams taken that mark the end of a chapter, unit, semester or year.  While we try not to compare camp to school, Woodland actually had two tests of its own this week!  This past Tuesday, Camp Woodland greeted 3 trained volunteers from the American Camp Association (ACA) for our accreditation visit that occurs every 3rd year.  JoAnne gave our guests the grand tour of camp, and they stopped to watch various activities in action, check out a few cabins, interview some campers and staff, and take a look at the kitchen and health center.  Following the tour, the 3 visitors went through multiple notebook binders to verify that we have the necessary documentation to be in compliance with close to 300 health, safety, and program quality standards!  Whew!


One of the first signs you see when you come into camp!

Why do we seek accreditation?  We’re glad you asked!  Camp Woodland and Towering Pines PROUDLY display the ACA-Accredited Camp sign as it has 50 years of parent trust behind it.  Accreditation means that both camps have proof of accountability, credibility, and commitment to the best practices established by the camp industry.  Experts from many fields including the American Red Cross and The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, are consulted to work with ACA to continually improve the camp standards program.  We are happy to report that Camp Woodland “PASSED” this big test again this year!  Towering Pines will be on the list of camps to be visited next summer.

Riding ACA

Wearing a helmet, boots, and long pants is an example of one of the program standards for horseback riding.

For our second “test” this week, the Oneida health department came for their annual review on Thursday, and they made similar stops to ACA on their walk around camp.  The great thing is that because our staff are well-trained at the beginning of each summer and on an on-going basis, they handled any questions that were asked like pros and did a nice job telling the story of what we do and why.  Camp Woodland had another excellent report from the health department (are you surprised?!)!  It made for a busy week, and we are glad to get back to the more FUN part of our jobs (like driving campers to the Ropes Course in Rhinelander, honoring our 5 and 10 year campers and staff at Camp Birthday, and watching the AMAZING drama/gymnastics/dance shows tonight)!


A Counselor’s letter home

Posted by on July 17, 2014

Sam (right)

Dear Mom & Dad,

I’ve had the easy job. From the summer when I was nine, my job has been to come to Northern Wisconsin and grow into myself by learning how to ride, canoe, and shoot bows and arrows at camp. I lived with my best friends who are now my sisters and lost track of time in the warm summer haze.

Now seventeen, I recently figured out that your reality for the past nine summers has been very different from mine. While my days were punctuated with bells ringing and counselors cheering, you were at your job waiting for the mail truck to deliver one of my elusive letters. I avoided homesickness because I was at camp, my second home, while you missed your daughter because there was no one to greet you when you came home from work.  I had the easy part – I was able to live, love and laugh in a place where I belonged unconditionally. I became a stronger swimmer than you, Dad, and rode in first hour just like you, Mom. While you were at home, your two daughters were away at different sleep away camps for almost the entire summer.

For years, when other parents looked at me in disbelief and asked how you could possibly send me away for six weeks, I always smiled and said that you were happy to rid yourself of me for the summer; it was our break from each other. There’s a better reason, a truer reason, and I want to apologize for not giving it at the time. That reason is that you were willing to put aside your own selfish wants of having your child home because you knew that letting me go to camp for six weeks was the absolute best thing that could ever happen to me.

You were willing to let me go and let me figure out myself on my own terms. This allowed me to be independent and become a little more self-sufficient every time I came home.  You didn’t get frustrated with me during the summers when I barely wrote, and you never hinted at being insulted when I mentioned I wasn’t homesick at all during my time away.

You knew I loved you very much, and you let me love you from afar. You let me learn to love others who weren’t related to me in a way I was told only families love each other. You let me love a place with a different family to the same degree if not more than the love I have for my biological family and childhood home. Your selflessness gave me the opportunity I needed to be selfish for a few weeks each summer so that I could learn how to be selfless, too.

For all of this and more, I THANK YOU. Thank you for giving me nine summers in the Northwoods at Camp Woodland. Thank you for being tough when I wasn’t and letting me be tough when all you wanted was to carry me. Thank you for being camp parents, and thank you for letting me stand on my own feet. Thank you for giving me a place where I automatically belong and giving me two homes to love. More than anything, thank you for loving me and letting me love camp.


Sam with Cabin at Ropes Course

I love you and will see you soon,

Sam E

2nd year JC

2nd generation Camp Woodland Girl

Fun at Farm Zoo

 Farm Zoo at Woodland has never been better. We have really enjoyed taking care of the animals this year and we can’t believe how much they’ve grown over the past three weeks! Every day the campers clean the barn and make sure the chicks, ducks, goats, and rabbits are fed and happy. We work together as a team and have gotten to learn from one another. The older girls have done a really nice job of teaching the new campers how to clean the rabbit cage, hold the animals properly, and even take the goats on walks!

dsc09356During the first session the girls agreed on some fun names for the animals. We have two goats named Woody and Cow (one likes to chew on bark and the other is black and white.) We also have three new additions to the rabbit ensemble: two white ones named Snow and White and a brown one named Peter. The chicks and ducks, on the other hand, are much harder to name. First there are so many of them that it hard to keep track and second, they are hard to differentiate! Nonetheless, the girls still find ways to assign names as the days go by.

 Apart from making sure the animals are taken care of, Farm Zoo includes exploring the forest surrounding the camp and making nature themed crafts and goods. Last session, we learned how to make butter and discussed the differences between the butter we made and the butter found in grocery stores. I think together we all agreed that its good when we know where the food on our table is coming from, especially if you make it yourself!

photo 3-2

 This session, we have explored the bog and the girls learned about the old pond that used to take its place. They also took on the project of beautifying the camp by planting flowers and hanging pinecone bird feeders. In the coming weeks we are looking forward to continue exploring the land that surrounds us and hopefully get into the cheese making process!


Teamwork at the Gymnastics Show

Working  in the office, Wendy and I get to peer into camp and  see campers working on their tumbling or new dance moves.  After seeing the focus of all the gymnastics class, it was clear to me that our awesome gymnastics instructor, Tori, should write about her experience preparing for the big gymnastics show held at the end of every 2 week session:

Week two brings much excitement with shows for dance, drama and gymnastics.  Shows are the perfect opportunity for campers to demonstrate their leadership skills. The campers in gymnastics work together to make up their routine. They even choose a song that everyone in the class agrees upon. Teamwork is also demonstrated when the girls are making up their floor routine. All of the gymnasts have so many different ideas of what they should do with their limited time for their floor routine. The girls have to work together to incorporate all of their good ideas.


Tori assisting gymnast

Tori assisting gymnast


 As one of the Gymnastics instructors, it was incredible to watch how hard these girls worked on their routines. The girls never stopped perfecting their routine. I will be the first to admit all of the girls were successful in achieving their goals for this session. Each day in gymnastics we worked on improving skills for the girls to show off to their friends, parents, and counselors at the end of session shows.  Each and every girl was successful in some way this session, whether it be getting more flexible, landing their back handspring, or simply remembering the routine during shows.


We are so proud of each and every girl for the numerous hours of hard work they put into their routine.

 Counselor Tori, Camp Woodland Lifer

Freshman at University of Wisconsin

Archery – Patience, Persistence, & Perseverance

With a whopping full five hours of archery this session, it is no wonder that the girls are all aspiring to be the next Katniss Everdeen. Campers are enjoying themselves so much in the process to ever think about stopping! I never read any of the books from The Hunger Games trilogy, but I have to give it up and thank the media for all of its roaring popularity. It was definitely a positive factor in almost half the camp signing up for archery this summer.


Apart from the endless fun of shooting every day, there is so much more to archery than just a bow and an arrow. Over the past two weeks, I have taught a lot of new girls how to shoot for the very first time:

  • Picking out a bow that will suit them
  • Showing them how to hold it correctly
  • Most Importanly-shooting arrows!

Honestly, I have seen nothing but progress. I’ve seen just as many arrows miss the targets as hit the targets, but that’s what archery is about! You shoot a round, and sometimes it seems impossible, but a lot of the times you get that accomplished rush of joy when you hit all your arrows on the target, or reach an anticipated score, or pass another level. It isn’t easy, and I understand that not every girl will be able to even hit the target every round, but the fact that they still return every day even more enthusiastic to shoot than the last is unbelievable.


My biggest message as an archery teacher is to make sure that the girls know that it is okay to shoot three rounds in a row and not hit a single arrow on the target, just as it is okay to qualify every round and pass levels every day. It is all in the process of learning, and they understand that as each day goes on, they only have more hours of practice to rely on. Each girl has shown a tremendous amount of perseverance by pushing through any failures because they understand that that’s all part of the process.

From a teacher’s perspective, I could not be any prouder. There have already been a dozen of levels passed and we only finished the first 2-week session! I cannot wait to see how much each girl will continue to improve and grow as both an archer, and a camper, learning lessons of patience, persistence, and perseverance along the way.

Thank you Sara D for awesome description of Archery!!!