Monthly Archives:July 2015

Dessert before Dinner?!

Posted by on July 31, 2015

Every Sunday, my husband and I treat ourselves to ice cream at our favorite spot in downtown Galveston.  Especially during the winter months when store hours end at 6:00 pm, we often find ourselves eating ice cream before dinner.  While there is no rule against having dessert before a meal, it is one of those things that has been engrained in me and I always end up feeling a little weird – like I am doing something I shouldn’t.  It reminds me of the rare occasions when my Mom would serve pancakes for dinner instead of at the usual breakfast meal.

pancake breakfast

While we don’t have dessert before dinner at camp in the literal sense, we do like to “shake it up a little” this time of the summer to keep things fresh and exciting for the campers.  While establishing routines is very important during the first few weeks of the camp season, once campers are comfortable with the predictiveness of each day and week, it is good to deviate from the schedule from time to time and provide variety.

Molly A

So, how do we change it up for campers and staff?!  I’m glad you asked!  It started last week during the 4th week of camp when we had the counselors rotate tables during the lunch meal.  This offered counselors an appreciation for different group dynamics from their own cabin and an opportunity to spend time with campers of varying ages in order to get acquainted a little better.  Because we are a small camp community, we pride ourselves on knowing more than just a name for each camper!


Another example of changing up the routine is our annual Olympic Games.  This week on Tuesday night, the camp was divided into 2 teams and then sent to work together to determine a team name, colors, mascot, flag, and cheer.  Team captains (counselors)  signed campers up in various categories for the all-day competition in both team and individual events on Wednesday.  Teams sat together in the dining hall for meals and each camper was well cheered at every moment as sportsmanship is a key component and message of the Woodland Olympics.


A favorite all-camp activity that is typically a fun part of the last week of the summer is Spoon Assassins.  While the name sounds horrible and totally against camp philosophy, it is a basically a giant game of tag with some cool twists (a big thank you to Alice Lurain for being the original creator of this popular game well over 20 years ago!).  Campers are assigned someone to “kill” (with a spoon).  In order to avoid being “killed” you can link arms with another person.  Of course, there are some “safe” zones such as the Lodge during meals, inside the cabin, and during activities.  If someone is found without a buddy and gets “assassinated”, then they “die” and must give the name of the person they were trying to take out to the person who was their “killer”.


You can bet that while we all thrive in our routines of the typical camp day, having “dessert before dinner” and adding a taste of spice to the norm will for make for some memorable moments for the summer of 2015!


The Value of the Woodland Dollar

Posted by on July 29, 2015
I can honestly say that I am not looking forward to my re-entry into the “real world” after a month at camp where I will have to pull out my wallet once again to pay for gas, groceries, and other bills.  No doubt the dollar continues to buy less while the price of just about everything continues to go up.  There is one place; however, where the value of the dollar has remained steady over the past 46 years!


Fair Day is a great time for brothers and sisters to reunite!
On Sunday, the Woodland girls took a field trip to Towering Pines for the annual TP fair, and this weekend, the boys will head east on County D for the Woodland Fair.  As I was digging into my pocket for some “bills” to purchase a yummy treat at the TP Fair, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a cup of homemade ice cream was only $2 in “TP dollars” – the same price I paid in 1986 during my first summer as a counselor!  What a deal!
This coming Sunday, the boys from Towering Pines will be able to play various games and enjoy ice cream, popcorn, and bug juice for just a few “Woodland bucks” per game or treat.  The great thing is that the “bank” is open on Sunday’s, and campers simply have to request a “cash advance” from a number of “tellers” so that they can enjoy all the fun a carnival has to offer.  There will be fortune telling, a dunking machine, marriage booth, arm wrestling, fish pond, and a plethora of other games set up on and around the volleyball court – it promises to be a FUN time!
p.s. It is also interesting to note that some campers save their leftover TP/Woodland “dollars” from previous years and bring this “money” with them to camp to spend during the current year.  Even without gaining any interest, the value of the TP/Woodland dollar remains the same from year to year…that you can count on!

Internship or Camp Counselor?

Posted by on July 27, 2015

Sara and Collette

At a skit during a recent staff meeting, 2 “applicants” interviewed for a marketing position at Jordan, Inc.  The first applicant had work experience as an intern at a prestigious law firm in DC, while the second applicant spent 3 summers as a counselor at Camp Woodland.

Here are the responses to the questions in the following categories the applicants gave when asked to comment on their experience and ability to take on this position.


Law firm intern: went around taking coffee orders from each partner in the law firm.

Woodland counselor:

  • Articulated effectively with children, parents, coworkers, and leadership team.
  • Demonstrated confidence to parents in a short period of time the capability to take care of their children.
  • Corresponded in written form to parents regarding a camper’s adjustment, strengths, progress, and growth.
  • Reported regularly to camp leadership camper observations/concerns and program plans for various activities/events.



Law firm intern: was able to fix a jam in the copy machine while making copies of all briefs and proposals for a 100 person firm; took initiative to change the ink cartridge.

Woodland counselor:

  • Managed normal conflicts between campers and help them work towards resolution.
  • Developed creative alternate plans due to unexpected change in weather, scheduling, or equipment performance.



Law firm intern: led a group of interns who started a week later to show them the location of the nearest restroom.

Woodland counselor:

  • Became a role model and “go-to person” for a community of campers.
  • Anticipated the next step in various areas of camp life before it happened and became insightful about planning ahead.


Law firm intern: arrived with a team of interns to the office at 8:00 am Monday-Friday.

Woodland counselor:

  • Established camper expectations and maintained a partnership with co-counselor(s).
  • Assisted campers to negotiate and compromise in order to accomplish a common goal in various cabin events.



Law firm intern: made the decision to use milk from the vending machine when there was a shortage of creamer in the break room.

Woodland counselor:

  • Able to come up with a game or activity at a moment’s notice for a group of 5 or 70 campers when original plans are disrupted.
  • Changed words to a song and made up dance moves for an all-camp Song Contest performance.

Who would you want to hire – the intern or the camp counselor?  The choice seems pretty obvious to me!  If you are in a position to hire employees, don’t forget to inquire about a candidate’s camp experience – it is the best job training you could ever ask for!


I Can’t Remember The Last Time I Belly-Laughed!

Posted by on July 23, 2015


Lee and Kim Are Ready at the Registration Table

“I can’t remember the last time I belly-laughed!”, said Woodland Alumna, Amy Long after taking a tour of Sand Lake on the “Lazy Boy Recliner” (a.k.a. tube) that is pulled behind the ski boat.

group photo

“Jazz Hands”

This past weekend, Woodland enjoyed the company of a large group of alumni who came to celebrate Towering Pines 70th summer.   There was an abundance of laughter (and tears) as alums from the US and Mexico reunited. The weekend started by reconnecting with friends, a tour of camp, and a walk down Co-Ed Show Lane at Towering Pines. Alumni were able to see themselves in former Co-Ed Show videos and were then treated to a “live” version of the highly anticipated end-of-the-summer performance. The current Woodland and TP staff put together “Back to the Future” for the Friday night entertainment. “I’m Divin’ In” and “Handy Man” were among the selection of songs from various decades that were showcased.


Trail Ride

Alumni were able to be campers for a day and sign up for activities. Our guests enjoyed archery, riflery, arts & crafts, Farm Zoo, and tennis. CIT’s were on hand to take alumni on a cabin tour so that they could reminisce and share memories. We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the volleyball court and Grace and Sam took a group on a trail ride during rest hour. Because it was such a beautiful day, the waterfront was a popular spot to hangout and catch up in the afternoon. Sailing, swimming, tubing, and canoeing were offered in addition to the opportunity to kick back and relax on the deck or sailing benches. At the end of Rec Swim, it is no surprise that the Alumni headed straight to the Canteen Shack for a frozen candy bar or soft drink.

Rachel and Amy

“We Haven’t Changed A Bit!”

Next on the agenda was a special “Moment of Remembrance” for John Jordan and Win Abney. Alumni gathered in the Rec Hall at Towering Pines and had the opportunity to share memories of these two great men who are the foundation of the camp we know today. Following the service, alums gathered outside to enjoy a cookout on the lawn or on the benches overlooking Lake Nokomis. The gals were invited to attend and judge the annual Song Contest at Woodland, while a traditional TP campfire was on the program for the guys.


A Journey Back in Time

Sunday was a day of “good-byes” and promises to keep in touch. Plans are already being made for Woodland’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2019. Camila Villegas, a Woodland alum, shared this note with us expressing her thanks for such a wonderful weekend:

There is a place in my memory where the pine trees surround me, where I feel the cool water of the lake on my skin, and sounds of whispers sing in my head.

That is the place where the warm wind runs through my thoughts, the place where I can find my strength, my peace, my happiness, because there is where my friends find me.

Woodland is that place in my memory and today, I share camp with you.  You, too, are now my friends.

mother daughter

Mother-Daughter Woodland Connection

From Acclimate to Accelerate

Posted by on July 15, 2015

ArcheryAfter establishing our rhythm in the first two weeks of camp, 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.


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! Several cabins will go on a canoe trip for a fun bonding experience and a change of routine. 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.



Song Contest is a highlight of this 2-week period. With the support of the counselors, groups come together and appreciate each other’s unique gifts and strengths. 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.