Category: Camp Reunion

Friendsgiving: Anywhere and Anytime

Here’s a math problem to solve: Camp Reunion + Thanksgiving = ???? (^hint: look at the title of the blog^)

It was super fun to gather in the Chicago area this past weekend for a reunion of camp friends – both Woodland and TP (Friendsgiving)! Campers and staff were together for part of the afternoon to catch up on the past few months, share memories and stories of summers past, and build excitement for “Opening New Doors in ’24”! It was just like being back at camp during Fair Day…snacks were served and games were played (with prizes!). Some of our favorite CIT’s were on hand to infuse camp spirit, and, of course, cameras documented the event (hence the photos you see here).

One of the things I have learned over the years is that campers (and staff) return to camp because of the people. Sure, activities and traditions are part of the draw to come back to County D Road. However, these wouldn’t be the same without the individuals who are there to create the memories we rely on this time of year when summer is still over a half a year away.

The ecosystem of camp is such that the bonds of friendship are strong because of the welcoming community from the beginning. The staff are really good at helping campers integrate into the camp experience and intentional about giving them organic opportunities to meet and learn about each other in an authentic way. It doesn’t take long for the seeds of friendship to grow!

Towards the end of the summer, we asked campers to reflect on what it looks like when they are being a good friend at camp (and would love for this to spill over into being a friend at home and school!).

When I am being a good friend at camp I am:


Audrey: helping cheer them up; Amelia/Georgia: helping; Evie: kind, respectful and responsive; Jaclyn/Eleanor: being kind;  JoJo: having fun; Luci: thoughtful and respectful; Fiona/Oli: including others; Oli: being nice

Silver Birch

Alice/Masyn: being kind and helpful; Elyse: helping others and being thoughtful; Clara: helping people and being myself; Lia: happy; Mojo: welcoming; Roberta: nice and kind; Ana Roberta: when I don’t get angry; Maya (CIT): talking/including others


Eloise: making others feel at home; Maggie: helping others; Olivia H: nice; Casilda: nice to them; Renata/Camila: empathetic; Dani (CIT): patient


Hannah: me; Orla: happy; Maddie H: a good listener; Amelia: helping everyone no matter what; Maddie B: calm; Nat (CIT): being empathetic and myself


Julia: helping others; Regi: proud of myself for having awesome friends; Natalia: nice and helpful; Olive: helping others when they are homesick; Sophia: understanding, positive, respectful; Casi: always helping; Taylor: comforting them; Tess (CIT): not fighting when things get hard


Zoe: funny/kind; Alix: kind and thoughtful; Stella: chillin’; Amelia: nice, understanding, respectful; Phoebe: proud, happy, positive; Clara: happy; Olivia: there for them; Sydney: happy; Isabella (CIT): having fun


Vale: feeling good and happy; Marion: friendly; Lizzie: including others; Bella: kind and respectful to others; Izzy: making new friends in activities; Elizabeth: being nice and inclusive; Katherine: super happy


Sofia: empathetic; Delia: open; Lou: making people laugh; Lizzy: thoughtful and not annoying; Lizzie: helping others feel better; Kaitlyn: respectful; Lilah: being kind

Friendsgiving: Anywhere and Anytime!

The gathering in Chicago was the kickstart to camp reunions anywhere, anytime! It is EASY to host your own FRIENDSGIVING for camp friends where you are. Let us know HERE that you are interested, and we will help get it organized!


Now is a GREAT time to enroll your camper/s for 2024 and reserve your spot/s. Sign up HERE:

Revving Up for the CWTP Reunion

What seems like a million years ago when we lived in Texas, I would dread the November weekend each year when somewhere around 400,000 people on 150,000 motorcycles joined the residents of Galveston Island for the Lone Star Rally. I would listen to bikes of all shapes and sizes drive by all day (and all night). In looking back on that time, I can’t help but think how the bikers were really just coming to the Island for their yearly reunion. And, we are about to do the same thing ourselves when Woodland/TP campers and staff come together this coming weekend for an afternoon with camp friends in the Chicago area.

I’m sure the Lone Star Rally revs up each year as the weeks and days draw closer in anticipation of meeting up with friends who haven’t seen each other for a period of time. Bikers gather at their favorite restaurants to catch up on the events that have passed between visits, enjoy rides along the beach and other scenic routes, meet new friends, and make plans for future opportunities to do what they love (ride motorcycles). In many ways, this annual biker weekend is one giant family reunion.

Sound familiar?! The excitement for gathering at the Northfield Community Church on Saturday, November 18th is building as campers and staff make plans to spend a few hours together at the annual reunion the weekend before Thanksgiving. We are also making it possible for campers and staff who do not live in the Chicago area to “pop in” on Zoom to say hello to cabin mates and friends. What if it’s been more than a year since you have been to camp OR if this will be your first time? We would love for any former campers/staff (once a part of the Woodland/TP camp family, always a part of our camp family!) and new campers who will be joining us in 2024 to stop by. Please feel free to bring along any friends from home who might want to learn more about the TWO BEST CAMPS AROUND! 

The video from the recent summer will be shown, scrapbooks containing numerous camp photos will be passed around, stories from the past summer will be retold, school year events will be shared, and plans for next year will be made to DO WHAT WE LOVE AT CAMP (and of course, we will enjoy an assortment of yummy snacks!).  And, yes, this weekend will be one giant family reunion!

 We can’t wait to see you on Saturday, November 18th from 3:30-5:00 pm CST!  Please RSVP HERE to let us know you are coming. Check your email to get the Zoom link to join virtually (4-5 pm). p.s. Motorcycles/bikes welcome!

Charting a Course for Life

by Alice Lurain (camper, staff, sailing director, alum)

Last July, I returned to Camp Woodland for the first time in 22 years. This small slice of heaven was the locus of my universe for 10 summers in the 1980s and 90s, and what struck me most the moment I turned onto Camp Road was how little it had changed. Despite the accelerated pace of modern life and the constant churn of new technology that alters the way we interact with our world and each other on a daily basis, Camp Woodland has remained wonderfully steadfast in its values and commitment to developing each girl’s sense of herself and nurturing independence, confidence, and good old-fashioned fun. Everywhere, this was in evidence – from the intricately choreographed song contest performances, to the quirky outfits and boundless enthusiasm for best-dressed cabin, to the Inspiration Hour led by Silver Birch Cabin.

For me, one of the most impactful experiences of the alumni weekend was sailing on Sand Lake. I still remember the sense of weightlessness, freedom, and elation I felt the first time I went out on a Woodland X-Boat at the age of 9; I couldn’t stop smiling and I never wanted that feeling to end. When I was a camper, I would have spent all 6 periods down at the waterfront, if they had let me. As it was, I could usually be found on a sailboat at least 3 hours a day. When I became Director of Sailing as a counselor, I could hardly believe that someone was paying me to do something I enjoyed so much. This notion that work and responsibility could exist in tandem with fun and self-determination is an invaluable lesson that I carried forward in life.

When I walked down to the Woodland waterfront to see the sun glinting off the waves and the boats bobbing on their moorings, I felt my chest expand and a lightness enter my being. The buddy board still hung reassuringly on the side of the beach house, and when I entered, the smell of sunblock mingling with wet towels, soggy life jackets, and
lake detritus and the scrape and crunch of sand on the red all-weather carpeting instantly transported me back through the decades. How many times had I changed in that very room, hurriedly pulling on a bathing suit so as not to miss one precious moment of sailing or swimming or water skiing? How many confidences had I shared with friends while changing for the next adventure? How much sand had I personally tracked in from the beach or swept back out with the broom? It was impossible to know.

During alumni weekend, I sailed a Minifish until it hummed with the perfect sail trim; I breezed by Camp Menominee, which always looked to me more like a resort than a summer camp; I wound my way through conversations about life and love with old friends as we tacked back and forth until even camp life seemed far away; I was admonished by
JoAnne, who drove out in the ski boat to tell me I shouldn’t sail in the cove. How many times did that happen over the years? It is impossible to know.

What I do know is that sailing continues to be an essential part of my life as an adult, not only as a recreational activity, but as way of investing myself in my community. For the past 11 years, I have been involved with a non-profit organization, called Hudson River Community Sailing. Its mission is to use sailing to teach science, math, and engineering concepts, build leadership skills, and support the academic and personal growth of underserved New York City high school students. Despite growing up on an island, many of our kids have never set foot on a boat and have certainly never thought of the Hudson River as a resource for recreation and learning. I have seen participation in this program literally change the direction of kids’ lives and the possibilities they see for their futures. When we head out from the docks, I feel as though we pass through a portal to an alternate universe. Manhattan, with all its noise and fervor looks quiet and serenely beautiful from the river; time slows, and all that matters are the other people on my boat and how we will work together to make it glide seamlessly through air and water.

In my “day job,” I am a high school chemistry teacher. In addition to teaching about the behavior of matter, I encourage my students to figure out what they care about, what brings them happiness and makes them want to engage deeply and share part of who they are with others. Then I urge them to find ways to turn that into meaningful work, whether in the form of a future career or volunteer service. I feel incredibly lucky that Camp Woodland offered me the opportunity from a very young age to identify my passions for sailing and for working with young people, passions upon which I have constructed the foundations of a joyous and meaningful life.

Camp Reunions are Family Reunions

Now that the holiday season is upon us (as indicated by the long lines at the post office and popular shopping spots!), many of us have plans to spend time with family and friends in the upcoming weeks. For some, this may be the one of the few times when an entire family (or close to it) is able to get together, a family reunion of sorts.  We do the same thing ourselves when Woodland/TP campers and staff come together on a Saturday in November for an afternoon with camp friends in the Chicago area.

Just like the excitement for the holidays has been building up for several weeks now in anticipation of being with family and friends, the excitement for meeting at Jeff and Jenny’s house also ramped up as campers and staff made plans to spend a few hours together at the annual reunion the weekend before Thanksgiving.  We even have a few die-hard camp friends among us who make the trip to Chicago from the surrounding states.  It is also fun to see alumni come back who weren’t at camp during the most recent summer!

The video from the summer of 2019 was shown, scrapbooks containing numerous camp photos were passed around, stories from the past summer were retold, school year events were shared, and plans for next year were made to DO WHAT WE LOVE AT CAMP (and of course, all of this is accompanied by an assortment of yummy snacks!).  And, yes, this annual event was one giant family reunion!

As always, it was fun to catch up with everyone, and in case you missed it, here are the highlights!  Campers shared 1) their brightest moment since camp, 2) what they like to do when not in school, and 3) an adventure for this year:

Elizabeth: 1) relaxing, 2) swim or play video games, 3) maybe going to Disneyland for the first time

Audrey: 1) getting to go back to camp, 2) swimming, 3) swimming

Sophie: 1) seeing my friend that moved; I am looking forward to riding and water-skiing next summer

Izzi: 1) seeing my camp friends, 2) field hockey & lacrosse, 3) college visits

Kaitlyn: 1) I got another Ariana Grande shirt, 2) gymnastics, dance, and running, 3) gymnastics and dance

Libby E: 1) camp things, 2) drama & swimming, 3) Olympics

Sydney: 1) dancing at Chicago Bulls game, 2) gymnastics, 3) horseback riding

Lilah: 1) I got on the “all A’s” honor roll, 2) horseback riding, 3) trying something new

Delia: 1) getting braces, 2) playing tennis and hanging with friends, 3) Big Sur and possibly Mexico

Lou: 1) adversity, 2) volleyball, 3) going to Mexico

Sofia B: 1) I got braces, 2) volleyball, 3) trying something new

Brooke: 1) seeing my friends, 2) gymnastics and tennis, 3) everything

Heidi: 1) getting my back half on a trampoline, 2) gymnastics, 3) going to state for cheerleading

Tori: 1) winning a sail race, 2) violin, 3) Christmas

Lucy: 1) I gained a lot of friends and self-confidence, 2) studying, hang with friends, draw, and video games, 3) I’m going to be a CIT

Molly: 1) meeting new friends in HS, 2) cross country, drawing, hanging out with friends, 3) sports, HS, traveling

Dani: 1) becoming a better person, 2) I work, 3) going to London

Amelia D: 1) running a state time in cross country, 2) XC, track, and horseback riding, 3) hopefully going to state track

Libby B: 1) learning new Tik Tok dances, 2) tennis and riding, 3) being a 2nd year CIT

Irene: 1) making the tennis team, 2) tennis and homework, 3) teaching classes


Gigi: 1) starting college, 2) think about camp, 3) having a great summer

Cayley/Kelly: 1) camp reunion, 2) swim, volleyball, and horseback riding, 3) college and vacation

Jackie/Colette: 1) camp reunion, 2) hang out with friends and play just dance, 3) visiting each other

Elena/Amelia: 1) reunion, 2) be at camp, 3) HS graduation (Amelia)

Chelsea: 1) working weddings, 2) dance, cook, read, and Netflix, 3) internship

p.s. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to join us for the Chicago reunion, starting in January, we will be visiting camp families around the U.S. and bringing the reunion to YOU!


Beyond Grateful

We are grateful for our youngest campers in Sunrise!

As the last week of November rolls around, I am reminded of watching Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving Special every year around this time on TV.  Charlie Brown ends up serving Thanksgiving dinner for his friends thanks to Peppermint Patti’s self-invitation when he is really supposed to go to his Grandmother’s for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Charlie Brown enlists the help of Snoopy to help set up for the feast and, low and behold, a non-traditional fare ensues.

When Charlie Brown’s guests sit down to dinner on an assortment of lawn chairs placed around a ping-pong table, his friends are surprised to find popcorn, toast, jelly beans, pretzels, and ice cream sundaes on the menu.  After a much disgruntled Peppermint Patti voices her opinion about the food selections, Linus reminds the group about the true meaning of Thanksgiving and how important it is just to be together by retelling the story of Myles Standish and the Pilgrims on that very first Thanksgiving Day.

After having recently celebrated the Woodland Camp Reunion this past weekend, we are thankful for the opportunity to get together with camp friends at the start of the holiday season.  It was so fun to see campers, staff, and alumni gather 3 months after the close of the summer of “Your Time to Shine in 1-9”.  It was a special time for friends to reunite and catch up on the events of our days away from camp while knowing that the summer of “A Place to Grow in 2-0” is now closer than it was in August!  We were even able to share a similar fare to Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving feast (popcorn, grapes, juice boxes, candy corn, 100 Grands and other tasty treats!) while huddling close to the TV so that we could watch the highlights of the summer of 2019 on the big screen.  Camp memories were relived and shared, stories retold, friendships rekindled, and plans for next summer were formed!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all campers, staff, alumni, and friends…we are grateful for your membership to the Woodland/Towering Pines Family!  Many blessings in the year to come!

What each cabin is thankful for…

Sunrise: having really nice counselors and making new friends

Silver Birch: new friends, having the time of my life, my cabin mates, friendship, camp, JoAnne, the weather, getting Camper of the Day

Starshine: food, activities, being able to come to camp, having fun, being at camp with friends, having great counselors and cabin mates

Hilltop: coming back to camp and the people, winning Gold Rush, thankful for everything from the food to my parents, cabin mates, friends and counselors, for this summer being the best I’ve ever had, everything, getting to try new things

Treetops: getting someone easy in Spoon Assassins, being at camp with nice people, making more friends, being able to have this opportunity and trying new things, riding horses and improving my skills, staying 6 weeks, learning how to waterski, making friends and learning skills

Tamarack: being at camp and getting my 5 yr pendant, having fun, my friends and this safe place where I can relax and be myself, my amazing cabin, everyone in my cabin, having amazing counselors and cabin mates, getting close with all of them and having the best summer ever, for close friends that I can always talk to, my friends, counselors and cabin mates,

Sunnyside: being with cabin mates again from 2016, trying new things and all the opportunities at camp, the friends who are here for me no matter what, having such an amazing cabin, my cabin mates and the staff, having the ability to keep coming back, having the experience I can’t have at home, being able to grow the camp bond with so many people

Aquarius: being able to be CIT’s with my friends, cabin mates and the food, the opportunity to come to a place where I can grow, be myself and learn more about myself, my friends and the memories we made this summer, my friends, campers and counselors