Monthly Archives:July 2020

Here Comes the Sun

Posted by on July 23, 2020

Some of you might recognize this photo being at the end of the Woodland “dew” post with our news to suspend programming for the summer of 2020. We decided that it is appropriate to begin this post with the same scene and a promise of better days ahead. As the weeks of July march on, we have seen the clouds dissipate and rays of sunshine start to peek their way through the pine trees and cast a warm glow on Sand Lake.

While the easy thing to do would have been to take a “vacation” from camp this summer, we decided to do the exact opposite. We brought our leadership team together for what we called “Summer Summit 2020”. With an end goal of 2 camps – 1 mission – no divide, we have worked towards bringing Woodland and Towering Pines together in a way that allows us to unify our message and plan for the success of the next 25, 50, 75 years and beyond. We have also agreed to disagree. Without straying from the mission, there may be programs and systems that look different or are carried out differently at each camp, but we are on the same page with why we are here and what is fundamental to both camps (community, growth, respect, responsibility, and safety).

We looked closely at the camper and staff experience, programming, our business and marketing plans, and alumni outreach as broad strokes. We got into the weeds a bit and had conversations about the CIT program, staff time off, length of activity periods, social media, and camper/staff recruiting/retention…just to name a few. We spent time training on Camp Brain (our new database) and gathering content for winter engagement with our camp community (holiday card photo – check!). We even had a pitch from two of our current staff on how Farm Zoo could take on a new look in future summers.

We rolled up our sleeves and dug into projects to make facility improvements. Several bathrooms have been updated, walls have been painted, cracks in the volleyball court filled, and the deck on the way to the beach has been given a new shine. We are grateful to Jeff, Evan, Jon and other camp friends who pushed through some pretty warm (bordering on HOT) days to make this happen.

All work and no play is NOT what camp is about. We had FUN together, too! We began our Summit with a game of Bunko so that we could ease into some topics on our list and begin conversations. We ate meals in the lodge at Woodland (thank you, Drinka!), enjoyed the TP and Woodland waterfronts just about every afternoon (JoAnne and Kim went for a spin on a paddle board in windy conditions and have decided that more “board” meetings are in order next summer!), took daily hikes/walks/runs in the woods or on County D, made s’mores, and gazed at the stars while hanging around the campfire at the site by Treetops.

This summer has been like no other. While we have spent this time at 8080 Camp RD and it looks like camp (the cabins and buildings are still here), sounds like camp (we ring the bell to keep us on schedule), and smells like camp (we may have had a skunk grace us near the barn), it doesn’t feel like camp. We miss every single camper and staff member who breathes life into the place of camp. We miss the people. We miss YOU. We can’t wait until we can be  together again. Here comes the sun in 2021!


Red, White and BOOM Campfire

Posted by on July 8, 2020

There is a great tradition in the Northwoods of Wisconsin that has been going on for many, many years.  It’s called the annual “Red, White & BOOM Campfire.”  It was hard to fathom or envision how this tradition would continue with Camp Quarantine 2020 and camp not functioning as it normally does with the hustle and bustle of campers and counselors here.  Thankfully, there is another tremendous tradition that resonates among these tall white pine trees here at Towering Pines Camp for Boys and Camp Woodland for Girls.  What you ask might this be?  It’s called RESILIENCE!!

At camp when a challenge presents itself or something doesn’t quite work out as planned, a subtle intention begins to emerge.  At first it’s a thought bubble that can almost be seen ruminating above the heads of those involved, and then it becomes a full out light bulb that illuminates brightly and creates a stir.  Before you know it, we’ve grabbed hold, and we aren’t letting go until we bring the idea into fruition, and it’s a full out event!!  Hence the very first “Virtual Red, White & BOOM Campfire!!”

Camp is all about learning how to adapt, how to adjust, and how to grow during times of adversity.  That’s part of the what makes camp a spectacular place to spend our summers!!  Campers learn from watching counselors and leadership staff take life’s failures and adversities and turn these into “shining” moments and successes albeit maybe not how we originally envisioned these.  This skill is invaluable and transfers into almost every aspect of life.

This year’s Red, White & BOOM Campfire was no different in that it was a tiny vision that became an idea, that turned into a reality via Zoom chat on July 1, 2020.  Those of you in attendance were the very first to experience this amazing twist on what is normally a gathering here at Towering Pines on July 4th in celebration of Independence Day.  Not even Camp Quarantine can keep brothers and sisters, camp friends and family from gathering to celebrate together and to experience what we all long for .  .  .  this camp bond that keeps us going throughout the year.

Songs were sung, skits were performed and even challenges were completed!!  Will & Calla served as  our campfire M.C.’s.  They carried us through a wonderful hour of camp traditions at their finest in what was just a change of venue since this all happened somehow magically through cyberspace.  How incredible that despite being in different locations all over the U.S. and even in other countries, we managed to come together as a camp family and carry on a tradition that we all know and love!!  There was even a fireworks show that elicited many “Ooohhhs, Aaahhhs and WONDERFULS!!”

The world may be in a strange and uncertain place right now, but some things remain the same—our camp friends and family are always here!!  As we close each campfire hand in hand when we are physically together, so we held on tightly to one another in our hearts.

“Each campfire lights anew the flame of friendship true. The joys we’ve had in knowing you will last our whole lives through.” (Excerpt from Woodland closing campfire song)

“By Nokomis rippling waters where our campfire bright, keeps the flames of friendship burning in our hearts tonight.” (Excerpt from Towering Pines closing campfire song)