Category: A Place to Grow in 2-0

From Virtual to…

We have been grateful for the opportunity to interact with staff, counselors, campers and parents through the virtual medium over the past several months. Zoom chats, virtual game nights, virtual campfires and even virtual alumni camp tours provided a way for the camp connections we all crave to happen. It’s a way to support one another during a time when, perhaps, things seemed far less than normal.

We were amazed by the creativity and ingenuity that our camp community summoned in order to surpass cyber boundaries to bring a bit of camp into our lives when we all needed it. Campers created skits, performed challenges, and sang songs while zooming from different parts of the world. CIT’s stepped up to facilitate parts of campfires and game nights showing that they truly are learning spectacular leadership skills that transfer into areas of life we may have least expected.

Counselors created the “Dining Hall Bracket” on social media to decide what the most delicious meal is at camp. Lasagna won, but the competition was fierce!! Other fun events were camp bingo and some challenging camp trivia. Finally, who knew that we could actually try our hand at virtual Gold Rush?! Again, when camp people come together, creativity abounds. We found ways to share positive vibes with our camp family even if that meant doing so through cyber space.

We are thankful for the opportunity to stay in touch through Zoom, social media and even “snail mail,” However, what we are REALLY and TRULY looking forward to is seeing all of you in person next summer! There is nothing better than the sights and sounds of campers and counselors engaged in learning and having fun while doing it. The echoes of laughter amidst the quiet whisper of the white pines is an almost magical sound. There is so much amazing growth that happens during those six weeks of camp, and we can’t wait to share it with campers again next summer.

As many different versions of school are beginning in the next few weeks, we are hoping for positive experiences for our camp families. We will stay in touch throughout this year, and as always, we love to hear from you!! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and look for e-mails and monthly mailings from us as well. We are currently taking early enrollment for our camp families. Early enrollment tuition remains at the 2020 rate through Labor Day, September 7, 2020. Use discount code OLDFAM to receive 2020 tuition rates. Click here to register!!  If you’d like to share the “awesomeness” of your camp experience with other potential campers, we are extremely appreciative of any referrals.

We are looking ahead to many positive adventure-filled moments at Camp Woodland and Towering Pines where these children can grow as individuals and members of a community. The future looks bright…Here Comes the Sun ’21’!!

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)

A Little Woodland Dew for Summer 2020

Posted by on May 23, 2020

To the Camp Woodland and Towering Pines Family,

First of all, we thank you for your patience as you (and your campers) have been anxiously waiting for information about camp this summer. We wish there was an easy way to share hard news. We are heartbroken that we are writing to inform you that we will not be opening Camp Woodland and Towering Pines for the 2020 season. Without a doubt, this has been the most difficult decision we have ever had to make. We know that your sons and daughters need camp now more than ever. Camp is the bright spot that keeps us going all year and is a happy place for so many.

We want you to know that we have been coming together as a leadership team for the past several months to explore every possible way of how to make camp happen during these unprecedented times. We have listened to and read regulatory guidance from the CDC and the American Camp Association. We have been on weekly calls with camp directors in our region to process information and share ideas. We have been in contact with medical professionals and state and local health departments. We have consulted with our camp representative in Mexico to keep abreast of the situation there and the ability for travel to the US. We came up with an innovative plan to use our greatest asset – having 2 camps on separate properties. After a call on Friday with the county health department, the recommendation was made that overnight camps should not open for the 2020 season. With that news, the decision to operate camp this summer, though difficult, became clear.

We always say that it never rains at camp, but rather we have Woodland or TP “dew”. We welcome a morning to sleep in a little longer and mosey down to the lodge for a delayed breakfast. Cabin clean-up is extended while we await the news of the exciting events that will allow for a change of routine in our daily schedule. We are thrilled to have the much-anticipated Lip Sync Contest, TP Casino Day or Woodland Spa. We delight in the opportunity to put on rainboots and a slicker coat and grab an umbrella as we head out the door to splash through some puddles along the way to the Rec Hall. The “dewy” weather does not dampen our spirits. We are refreshed by a change of pace and appreciate the sunshine a little more when it returns.

We know that this news may temporarily place a cloud in the sky of our typical bright and sunny summer. We also know that there are still lots of questions to answer, so we will be in touch shortly with information on tuition refunds and available rollover options.

We wish to thank all of you for your trust in us and for being so supportive and encouraging during this most difficult time. As disappointing as this must be for you and your sons and daughters, our wish is that we can weather the “dew” while looking forward with excitement to the sunshine the Summer of 2021 will bring.

Woodland and Towering Pines Love,

JoAnne, Susan, Jeff & Jenny

Meet-Your-Neighbors Bundt Cake

Posted by on March 16, 2020

I was asked recently to share a recipe with a friend of ours whose son is getting married in May. This Mom is wanting to put together a really special book for the engaged couple that is a compilation of recipes from family and friends. Per the instructions for this project, the story that goes with the recipe was also to be included.

My first thought was to choose a recipe with the fewest ingredients. Something simple. Something that is easy to make (and to write) but really yummy. Besides, who has time to cook these days? So, I open up my recipe box and quickly put my fingers on a 7-ingredient bundt cake. I make this without fail every time we have company because it is a guaranteed winner. Bingo!

Double bingo because when I thought about the story behind the bundt cake recipe, a huge smile came to my face. This is perfect. This is what every bride and groom need as they start their new life together. This chocolate bundt cake was how we met our neighbors when we moved to Augusta, GA, when my husband was stationed at Fort Gordon in 2009.

A New Neighborhood

I remember making the journey from Mississippi to Georgia after Jeff finished dental school with our 2 dogs and spending the night on an air mattress in the 1920’s bungalow we purchased for the next phase of our married adventure. We were waiting for our furniture and goods to arrive, so it was like camping in our own house. Jeff reported to work the next day, and I anxiously awaited a multitude of boxes and “stuff” to be delivered so that I could set about making our house into a home.

Being Neighborly

Later that same day, I heard a knock on the door. When I checked to see who might be calling, I was greeted by a 6th grade boy and his 9th grade sister. Ben was proudly holding the mail that had collected in the days leading up to our arrival, and Ivey was carrying a still-warm-fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate bundt cake. “Hello! We live next door and  just wanted to stop by to welcome you to the neighborhood.” 

That simple gesture started a friendship with our neighbors that is still strong to this day (even though that was 4 moves ago). It is amazing how something so simple, yet so thoughtful and kind can be the spark that ignites a relationship. A friendship that strengthens for years to come. Neighbors who are now family.

Our Camp Neighborhood

How big is your neighborhood? At camp, there is a fun bunch of us. But if we compare our camp with all the camps in the US, it’s a very, very small neighborhood.

Our Earth is pretty big, right? It’s measured at 24,901 miles around the equator. However, when you compare the Earth to our solar system, it’s pretty small. Compare it to our larger galaxy, it’s smaller still.

For comparison sake, it would take you about 45 hours to circumnavigate the Earth on a plane. To get to Pluto and back, it would take 25 years and a really big rocket ship. To edge of our galaxy and back? That’s currently estimated at 220 million years.

So, when you compare it to the larger context, our Earth – our neighborhood – is pretty small. Mr. Fred Rogers touched on this a lot over his many decades of service. He didn’t care what you looked like, where you were from, or what was in your bank account. You were his neighbor and he treated you with kindness, patience, respect, and love. Period.

It is hard to believe that we are now a planet of around 7.8 billion people. Yet, we are all neighbors!

Neighbors Unite

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a virus in the neighborhood. We’ve got to work together to stamp it out.

This is not an opportunity to place blame. It’s an opportunity to realize that all of us in this tiny little neighborhood are in a fight against something that threatens us all. The good news? There are very simple and powerful ways to defeat it.

First, remain calm and patient. We humans have gotten through much worse. Secondly, wash your hands really well. If you aren’t sure how, here you go. The third is stay away from other people as much as you can for the time being, especially if you feel crummy.

Campers, we are most worried about those with challenged immune systems and the elderly. It would be neighborly of us to do our best to reduce the spread of this disease any way we can. (Here’s a great infographic that explains things well to young and old people alike.)

Woodland Neighbors

So, while this time is certainly strange for us, it’s also an opportunity to remember that we humans, despite our differences, are all neighbors. Let’s decide to be good ones for each other. You can start by making a “Meet-Your-Neighbors” Bundt Cake and taking it to people who live next door or across the street.

Heck, if enough of us bring a fresh-from-the-oven bundt cake to someone in our neighborhood in the days ahead, maybe that simple gesture will ignite into something more. When that happens (neighbors acting neighborly on a large scale), our Earth will feel a little bit more like a summer at Woodland.

this blog was inspired and adapted in part by camp friend, Cole Kelley

Meet-Your-Neighbors Bundt Cake (tastes best when made together as a family)

1 box yellow cake mix

1 small box instant chocolate pudding

4 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup oil

1 small container of vanilla yogurt

6 oz chocolate chips (I always add more!)

Mix together first 6 ingredients then add chocolate chips at the end. Pour into greased (and floured) bundt cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. If you really want to impress your neighbors, serve with vanilla ice cream and drizzle chocolate syrup on top.