Category: Leadership Development

What If Every Day Was A Snow Day?!

IMG_0006Have you ever known a kid (or adult for that matter) who was not excited about the possibility of a snow day?!  To go to bed the night before knowing that you had the whole day ahead to play in the snow and do things that you don’t normally get to do?  I have lived in Georgia for the past 5 years, and it is a rare occasion that we even get teased with the thought of a snow day.  This week was a dream come true for many Southerners as schools and places of work were closed for a day (or more) thanks to Winter Storm Leon.  Even though I lived in the “North” once upon a time, I couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement of having 2 snow days to break up the hum-drum of the last week in January.

While walking my dogs around the neighborhood over the past few days, I loved seeing fewer cars on the roads (since not many people down here know how to drive with white stuff on the ground!) and hearing the bursts of laughter coming from kids playing outside while making snow angels, throwing snowballs, and sledding down our hilly landscape.  I even saw some “grown-ups” (or maybe just several students?) running around a local college campus with very large water guns and having a ball.  One of my neighbors invited me over for dinner and said that it felt like a “holiday” in the middle of the week.

So, what if every day was a snow day?  In my mind, it absolutely can be at camp!  Having played hard all day with the anticipation of waking up to something fun and exciting puts campers to sleep every night.  The bursts of laughter heard while campers are hanging out in the cabin, walking to and from activities, eating meals together, huddling around the campfire, are just a few of things that make each and every day at camp extraordinary and more like a snow day than a regular day.


Will Summer Ever Get Here?! As the US has experienced a polar vortex twice this season, numerous “clippers”, subzero windchills, and below average temperatures, it seems as though summer will NEVER get here!  It is hard to imagine wearing shorts and a t-shirt, let alone a bathing suit for Rec Swim when many of us are donning layers of long underwear, hats, gloves, scarves, and boots, just to try to stay warm.

But, if you are like me, you may have started to notice that the days are starting to get just a little longer (we are already over a month out from the Winter Solstice!).  As you see from the pictures taken on my recent snow day, spring is actually trying to push its way through despite the frigid temps (at least it is in Augusta, GA!).  I have begun to notice little spikes of green line the paths on walks with my dogs every morning, and I even saw some pink buds peeking out through the snow.  On one of the coldest mornings we’ve had all winter, robins were chirping and fluttering about.


For those of you counting down the days until camp, it won’t be too long before summer days in the Northwoods will become a reality.  We are anxiously awaiting your arrival and have been turning up the heat on plans for the “Dare to Explore Summer of 1-4”!  Until then, have yourself a great snow day!

Camp Friendships – Empowering Girls at Camp Woodland

This is a must read and be warned, you may tear up too! Thank you Natalie B for taking us back through your camp memories.  A true testament of summer and lifelong friendship.

On the morning of June 21, 2003, I started off my summer where I believe many new campers do: standing in the doorway of my cabin, pillow clutched in one hand and stuffed animal clutched in the other, absolutely terrified. Excited, yes, but terrified. At eight years old, circumstances hadn’t yet mandated that I have the abilities to make my own friends; my mom would set up play dates for me, and I would follow along blindly with a smile and the promise of delicious snacks at my playmates’ houses. I had the luxury of getting along with others in a way that only a little girl who isn’t yet sharply individualized can.


First Summer at Camp – 2003

But that changed when I arrived at camp. Suddenly, I found myself in a situation where compatibility was defined not by a mutual elementary school classroom, but by our very lifestyles, interests, and behaviors. Camp is unique in that it is capable of bringing out the essence of someone’s personality within six short weeks, and it is upon those intrinsic characteristics that we form our friendships. As such, my fears were not unfounded. It is no small pressure to be assessed in your most natural state of being for the first time in your life. What I didn’t know then was that this is camp’s most valuable quality: it makes every memory more real, every relationship stronger. Not to mention that the environment still allows for malleability—still allows for acceptance and patience and growth. Being as oblivious as I was, though, my fear was very real and very present.


Cabin Unity Campfire – Summer 2007

As it was, if someone had told me then that I was standing within ten feet of the girls whom I would soon count among my lifelong best friends, my look of skepticism would have been painfully evident. But it was undeniably, irrevocably true. Even now, after knowing my four closest friends—all of whom I met on that first day—for eleven years, it’s hard to believe that girls who are so fundamentally different can intertwine so closely, as if they are separate parts of one person. However, the situation I found myself in is not remarkable at camp: the connections happen all the time, every summer; friendships are forged in the seemingly unlikeliest of circumstances and prove to last a lifetime.


Counselors in Training – Summer 2011

The core problem was this: I believed—and I think we all did—that the friendship we fostered for the past eleven years was one based on chance. And in a shallow sense, it was. If the five of us hadn’t chosen to attend the same camp during the same summer, everything might have been different. But we attribute the success of our friendship more to the functions of the universe and fate than we do the very thing that allowed us to bond in the first place: camp.

The truth is that Camp Woodland didn’t bring us together, at least not on an emotional level. Camp opened its arms to each of us as individuals, and then proceeded to give us the tools, within mere days and weeks, to embrace diversity. So that ultimately, the young girls who were unexpectedly set apart by lifestyles, interests, and behaviors quickly learned that individuality makes us invaluable, that tolerance makes us versatile. These were important lessons to understand when it came to being a seamless addition to the fabric of the larger community. In short, we became friends because we learned to live with and love each other. I don’t think there is another place on earth that can produce the same phenomenal outcome.

Fast forward to now, my freshman year of college, which found me in a similar position as that first day of camp: standing in the doorway of a new environment that I was required to mold into a home for myself (sans stuffed animal, but equally as terrified). And maybe if I had never realized what eleven summers at Camp Woodland taught me about diversity, I would have found myself stuck in the belief that, after eighteen years, I had never been able to form my own relationships because circumstance had done it for me. Instead, I put a smile on my face, walked into my dorm room, and started making my own bed (like any true Woodland girl would) with a tranquil conscience. Because I know that camp hasn’t afforded me the privilege of making friendships for me; rather, it has given me the indispensible skill of mastering diversity and nudged me into taking my first step into a new world for which I am ready.

And if I stumble, I know my friends will be there to help me through. I have Camp Woodland to thank for that.


Junior Counselors – Summer 2013


-Natalie B, Freshman at University of Wisconsin


Took the Back to School Challenge & Became a Better Friend!

Lee @ Shamrock Marathon

Lee @ Shamrock Marathon

Hello everyone!  We hope you have been enjoying all the articles we are posting in our Camp Woodland blog.  We are posting inspiring alumni stories, camp events, cabin photos with favorite camps memories, and much more!

It is also fun to read back through all the summer posts that you may have missed, because you were having too much fun enjoying camp!  I especially loved the post that Kim wrote about setting goals and challenging yourself at the beginning of each school year.    I was so inspired, I took the challenge and got back into running with a few friends.  I started running an hour each day, just like practicing an activity for an hour at camp.  It was so much fun, that I soon built this confidence I could run a marathon again, yes 26.2 miles! I have marathons in the past but it had been a long time and 2 children ago.

Lee @ Grandma's Marathon

Lee @ Grandma’s Marathon

I got through all of my long and excruciating weekend runs, but just 3 weeks before the marathon, I got injured! I was so bummed because I had the “I can, I will, and I am going to do it right away” mantra engrained in mind. Every time I was thinking about giving up, this mantra came screaming into my head.  This is also the same mantra we tell campers when they think they can’t do a challenging activity or pass the next level in an activity. I tried and tried but my injury was not getting better and had to tell my running friends and supporters that I would not be able to compete in the marathon.  Just as I was floating into the depths of despair, I remember something Kim also wrote in the Back to school challenge…be a team player and help a friend.  So I did.  I turned my despair around and  I drove my friends 5 hours to the marathon, shuttled them to the start line of the race, cheered them on at different parts of the 26.2 mile route. I even ran the last 6 miles with one of my friends that just needed a little TLC when she thought she was not going to finish.  But you know what???  She finished (sprinted to the finish line with her head held high) and so did all my friends racing that day.  I have to admit helping others achieve their goals was  even more fun than running the race.  So even though I did not achieve my goal (but soon), the friends I supported along the journey were worth it!

Lee supporting her friends @ steam town marathon

Lee supporting her friends @ steam town marathon

 Take a leap  and try something new…..You never know the story you are going to be able to tell later!

Save the Date: Chicago Camper Reunion

Date: November 23, 2013

Location: Chicago Area (TBD)

Time: 3:30 – 5:30pm


Thinking Outside the Books: The Benefits of Summer Camp


It goes without saying that parents want what is best for their kids, right?  Since we are on the subject of “Back to School”, you may be interested to know that kids today need to be more than “book smart” in order to be successful once they leave home and are off to college.  Just because a child excels at academics or has talent in another area (sports, music, art, etc.), doesn’t mean that she will automatically rise to the top after entering the “real world” of higher education or the work force.

Todd Kestin (Huffington Post Blog – August 20, 2013) asks, “where does a person learn confidence, independence, responsibility, how to find and navigate meaningful relationships, the importance of putting attention on others, and how to surround oneself with people who bring the most value to your life?!  According to Kestin, the answer may surprise you (it does not surprise us, of course!).   These characteristics (and more!) are learned through the SUMMER CAMP EXPERIENCE!  What is learned at summer camp is important not just for success in college, but for success in LIFE!  (to read more of the Huffington Post Blog by Todd Kestin, CLICK HERE)


So, while it seems like the summer just ended, now is the perfect time to be thinking about plans for continuing the learning process for your daughter(s) once the “official” book learning has taken a “pause” at the end of another school year.  I’m sure you have fielded the question on more than one occasion, “How can you send your daughter away to camp each summer?”  After reading Kestin’s blog, a good response would be, “How can you NOT send your daughter to camp?!”

We look forward to having your daughter join us at Camp Woodland next summer where she will experience a LEARNING SURPLUS!

Stand out… You’ll fit right in!

Posted by on July 27, 2013

One of the best parts about being at camp, and one of the themes we try to focus on year after year, is that being yourself is absolutely the norm here at Woodland. At camp, we worry less about who’s going to think we’re strange, or how silly we look, or what we’re wearing. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! The louder and crazier you are, the more you fit in at camp. The more crazy clothes and face paint you pile on during Olympics, the better! The more patterns you clash and the more undergarments you wear outside of your clothes for special events, the better!


The more you be yourself, express yourself, and let your own colors shine through – the better! We make a point here never to let ourselves be dimmed by conformity, or to believe our differences make us less beautiful; infact, nothing could be farther from the truth! What makes all of us so great is how unique each of is. No two girls at camp are the exact same, or laugh at the exact same things, or wear the exact same girls. We each shine in our own ways. We each have our own talents, and our own strengths to bring to the group. Why would we ever want to diminish how amazing and singular we all are?! At camp, we get to be ourselves to the fullest – standing out is the exact right way to fit in!