Monthly Archives:July 2024

We LOVE our Woodland Staff!

Posted by on July 12, 2024

Seeing all of the action at camp, all the happy kids here, it’s easy to forget that there are about 30-35 people on the Woodland staff at any one time. There are MANY people working to make camp possible. While July 12 has been officially named as #CampCounselor Day by the American Camp Association, we appreciate our staff EVERY day!

There are the cabin counselors: the college-age gals who live in the cabins with the campers, eat meals with the campers, and spend most of their day relating to them. These are the ones who most directly help set the tone at camp. They’re kind, silly, and enthusiastic. Many have been campers themselves when they were younger, and now have returned to Woodland to get their “camp fix” and have their turn at making an impact on the leaders of tomorrow. A few have recently come from abroad to spend their summer at camp. And others are friends of people somehow related to Woodland and its history. Regardless, they all work out their schedule and somehow manage to drop what they are doing during the school year to be in Northern Wisconsin for close to 8 weeks.

Cabin counselors are also activity instructors during the day. They are assigned to one or more activities where they guide, lead and instruct the campers as they do something. You can imagine this means the cabin counselors have a wide range of skills and talents. One might be certified to teach archery, and another to be a lifeguard. Some are landsports enthusiasts— tennis, gymnastics, riding or riflery, for example. Others have real talent directing drama or dance, developing cool art projects, or tying complex friendship bracelet patterns. Some teach the Zoo classes while others work with campers to learn to swim, sail or canoe. Every activity at camp has counselors directly involved at every turn.

Another area of staffing is our activity directors. These leaders have special knowledge or skills pertaining to an activity, and therefore can be in charge. Each instructional activity has at least one person in this role. The riding directors not only teach mounted riding lessons but also care for our 12 horses daily. Other directors include a Program Director who schedules all campers and staff for daily and evening activities, our CIT directors who run the leadership training program for the oldest campers, and a canoe trip director who takes each cabin group on an overnight experience. We also have adult leadership who are closely involved with the campers and staff of each age group.

The other areas of staffing are equally critical for camp to operate. These are the maintenance staff, van drivers, motor boat operators, photographers and videographers, and office staff (both on-site and remote). We should also recognize the fantastic team that can be found in our Health Center caring for and keeping us well physically and mentally, and perhaps most importantly, the kitchen crew that keeps us well fed with a-mazing meals and snacks.

Together, along with JoAnne and the Jordan family, all of these people help keep camp going. They help us stay healthy, active, and engaged with everything camp life presents. It’s a great group of dedicated people who love camp, enjoy being with kids and seeing them have fun. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; it’s the people that make Camp Woodland!

p.s. It’s never too early to start talking to those folks in your network (family, friends, neighbors, church community, co-workers, etc.) with college-age connections about the exciting opportunities a summer at camp provides!

Self-Discovery is a Benefit of Camp

Posted by on July 9, 2024

We often hear from campers during the school year that, “I always can’t wait to get back to camp.” “Camp is my Happy Place.” “I look forward to camp all year long.” These are common refrains.

It doesn’t seem right to explain these feelings of happiness at camp by pointing to the variety of activities (sailing, riding, archery, dance, to name a few), the great food (taco bar, chicken tenders, Saturday donuts, or Dan’s lasagne), the beautiful campus we enjoy (Climax Forest, Sand Lake, Vespers Hill) or any particular “perk” like that. If not these, then why do Woodland girls love camp so intensely and often with such loyalty? 

There is a phrase we often hear at the closing Inspiration Hour where campers and staff members talk about what camp means to them. The phrase is, “Camp is the place where I’ve learned the most about myself.” There is something special about Woodland that leads to self-awareness, to a better understanding of “who you really are.” What is it about camp that encourages this?” How is camp different from other places in ways that make it well suited for this kind of self-discovery? That may be the question of the century!

For one, the pace of camp life really helps. There’s simply more time for self-reflection, more opportunities to try new things and explore (and Open New Doors!), more opportunities to relax and connect with the people around them. We know how busy lives can be during the school year, “up at 7am and back home at 7pm.” Having stretches of free time at camp is a wonderful thing. That freedom makes a HUGE difference!

At camp there are also “fewer distractions” mostly because campers do not have their phones. This is a big deal! One reason campers love camp, ironically, is because they give up something they use everyday, all day, at home. If every spare moment is consumed by retreating from the real world into the algorithmically curated virtual world of social media and the internet, then what’s left? If a smartphone is always with us, ready to provide instant gratification (distraction), won’t we skip over important details around us and fail to pay attention to what we might discover? With no phones at camp, girls are relishing the expansion of awareness being tech-free provides them. And, part of what they’re noticing is their true selves.

When asking older campers why they keep coming back to camp, they often tell you, “It’s the people.” This translates to mean, “the people at camp are friendly, kind people who make me feel good. They accept me, include me, and don’t judge me.” This sense of belonging, being a part of a community that cares about you no matter what, is a powerful force. It inspires a sort of personal confidence to let the real you shine, to drop those ideas of who you “should” be. It’s very common, after all, for most of us to fall victim to pressures of conformity, to create versions of ourselves that align with assumed ideals of personality, ability and beauty. But if that’s all we do, how will we discover what’s unique about each of us? If we’re just posing most of the time, doing our best to hide any hint of “imperfection,” (thinking this will help people “like” us), who are we really?

We think campers understand this too at some level. Maybe not explicitly, but they know that at Woodland it is OK to discard these social facades and explore other, deeper aspects of who they are. The people here at camp, the whole supportive community, makes this possible. When you realize that people at camp don’t really care what you look like, you can let you hair down, literally and figuratively. That’s the gift that can lead to greater self-awareness, much greater self-confidence, and greater contentment in the long run.

Taken together, these three characteristics of camp life— time for reflection, ditching phone-based distractions, and a community of supportive people —help explain why girls feel they learn about themselves at camp. Since this kind of self-discovery is really difficult back at school, they yearn for these opportunities and so cherish their time at camp. They “can’t wait to get back,” and feel good like this again. Maybe we can say these girls love camp because it’s fun, but also because it helps them grow.

If you want to help your girls grow like this at home, help them by carving out some time when they can slow down, be fully disengaged from their smartphones, and be with people who truly care about them. That’s certainly not easy, but not impossible either. How about a phone-free sleepover with friends, spent playing games instead of watching a movie? Family time one Saturday morning, spent outside? Those are just a couple of ideas that are also not necessarily easy, but may give you some encouragement to try. Our kids really do want these sorts of experiences but are hampered by forces beyond their control. They need our help. Fortunately, there is camp, but can’t we do more? Yes, we can!

Reference: RBC

What to “Do” With a Little “Dew”

Posted by on July 3, 2024

In case you didn’t know, it never rains at Camp Woodland! How is this possible you ask? We just get a little “dew” as was the case late last week (and a few days this week too). Woodland Girls do not let gray weather dampen our spirits…the “show must go on”! The ever popular Lip Sync Contest is hands down one of the most highly anticipated rainy day activities. I can remember dry summers when we actually got to the 4th or 5th week of camp, and the campers were wishing for a “dewey” day just so that they wouldn’t miss out on Lip Sync Contest.

Silver Birch wins 1st place with “Heigh-Ho” from Snow White 

The 7 dwarves from Silver Birch were named the “official” 2024 Lip Sync Contest winners with their rendition of “Heigh-Ho” from Snow White by the “official” judges (The Jordan Trio + Nurse Laura). Lip Sync takes place in the Rec Hall and is the perfect cabin bonding activity regardless of when it happens in the summer.

It is a great way to continue solidifying and strengthening the bonds that have been forming in cabin groups this first week. There is a different feel within groups now than on June 22nd. By the end of this week – LOOK OUT! Campers will really be hitting their stride with adjustment to and comfort with being at camp.

Sunnyside gets into the spirit with a Taylor Swift song

With the help of their counselors, campers negotiate which song will be chosen for the performance, and then they must come together to decide on costumes, props, and dance moves. It is not unusual to see hairbrushes used as microphones and other interesting items (such as a broom and dustpan) appear. Sunnyside went all out with “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift. The coordinated hair ties add a nice touch for a 2nd place finish, ladies!

Hilltop wows the crowd with “Take a Hint”

Hilltop took 3rd place this summer with “Take a Hint” from Victorious. Always a winner to don Woodland/TP wear! If truth be told, some cabins actually decide on the song they will use prior to the announcement of Lip Sync Contest so they are ready when the event is called – what dedication. There is a good chance the Live-Ins fall into that category as they each did TWO Lip Sync songs – one with their cabin and one with the 3 of them together. Take a bow for your outstanding “Schuyler Sisters” performance from Hamilton. The hats “top off” your outfits!

Round of applause for the “Live-Ins”

As you can see from the vibrant faces in each photo, it’s really hard not to have a smile on your face when in lip sync mode. Let’s just say that courage and confidence show up in a big way even if being on stage is not your thing. The annual Lip Sync Contest fits right in with “Open New Doors in ‘2-4” because we are always up for an adventure (even when getting a little Woodland “dew”)!

Other popular “dewey” day activities include the “Human Treasure Hunt” (cabins with the most diversity rack up the most points – bonus points awarded for being a 1st year camper, speaking more than one language, having a unique pet, etc.), paper bag skits (cabins create a skit using the props given to them in a paper bag), and bingo (with prizes, of course!). Stay tuned for some more innovation with cabins taking on the challenge of coming up with a new version of the “lake gnome story“…I will be sharing those soon!



The “True” Story of the Lake Gnomes

Posted by on July 2, 2024

Any Woodland alum will tell you that they have heard the infamous lake gnome story as told by Peggy Forester in 1973. If you close your eyes, you can probably envision Anne Jordan holding a piece of gold/yellow Woodland stationery with a brown logo and print in her hands, reading the words formed by a typewriter (not a computer) at Wednesday night campfire.

Down at the beach on campfire night, the sky displays streaks of pink, purple and orange as the sun sets to the west followed by the moon rising over the horizon and blazing its almost walkable trail across the lake. As if on cue, loons call to one another from one end to the other. The loudspeaker from Menominee rattles off in the semi-distance. Canoes are turned over for the day, sailboats are happily moored, and the ski boat has been tucked in for the evening. A light breeze gives the halyards an opportunity to play their melody on the tall masts.

Cabins have taken their turn by sharing a song or a skit. A few brave souls offer up a challenge or a joke. Younger campers are snuggled up next to their counselor as eyes grow tired. Mrs. Jordan (now JoAnne) begins the iconic tale…

**Long ago, before hula hoops, or even super balls; yes folks, even before gym shoes were invented, Sand Lake was clear and free of leeches (not to mention Camp Woodland), there was a coffee factory.

Sing (Maxwell House Coffee tune): Down yonder green valley, where streamlets meander, when twilight was fading…

It produced the finest coffee for miles around. Its reputation was renowned. People would travel for days for one taste of this marvelous drink. Mysteriously enough, back in those days, this factory suddenly disappeared. It is thought that the lake gnomes, jealous of this prosperous town, came in one night and moved the factory piece by piece to the bottom of the lake. The only trace remaining is the stairway above Hilltop. This arduous procedure took only one dark night. No, there was not even a clue as to who it was who stole the factory.

The town’s prosperity ended. An eon or so passed. And one day, many years later, Sand Lake changed colors. It caused a great uproar among the people. Imagine where this brownish color was coming from?! The darkness increased until the lake was the darkest black. The chief counselor at that time remembered back to the days when his town was prosperous because of the coffee factory. He went to the chief of the lake gnomes because he wanted to be fair. One must always be FAIR he said to himself.

He asked the chief lake gnome what had happened. But the gnome falsely denied any knowledge of it. So to this very day, no one know for sure just how the lake turned brown. But, we’re pretty sure…

Why about 5 years ago, Jack was a-salting a leech and the truth came out. Leeches are really lake gnomes traveling incognito…lake gnomes in bondage. They were punished long ago by their leader for letting the secret of the coffee factory leak out. Their only escape is to be salted.

So each time you get a leech, remember, it’s a lake gnome trying to get free. Pouring salt on him sets him free. Free a lake gnome today!**

Questions/thoughts to ponder:

–Since Jack was “a-salting” a leech in this tale, I wonder if the lake gnome tale was actually crafted BEFORE the Jordan’s bought Woodland (and it became a camp for girls)? History has it that Woodland was a coed summer camp prior to 1970.

–Who else besides me was not a fan of the wiggly little leeches? As a former waterfront director, I can remember running with the carton of salt to any campers/staff who would “scream” when one would find its way onto a foot or leg (or some other body part). Fun fact: Woodland currently has very few leeches because of the compounding effect of the annual dump of a truckload of sand at the beach that has infiltrated the shoreline and beginner swimming areas over the last 30 yrs (more sand = less rocks and places for leeches to “hideout”).

–If you could rewrite the lake gnome story, what would your version be to explain how Sand Lake got its brownish color? Maybe it really wasn’t the leeches and coffee factory after all…

*For a chance to rewrite a tiny piece of Camp Woodland’s history, send your explanation/version of how Sand Lake got its brownish color to