Monthly Archives:October 2023

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: