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Winter Traditions Bring Memories of Summer (Featuring Tamarack)

The winter Holidays are a special time of year. You can’t help but find yourself full of joy, nostalgia, and self-reflection as the year comes to an end. Everyone has different traditions and favorite memories that help sculpt this wondrous time of year. Whether it’s baking, playing games, or enjoying the great outdoors, there is no shortage of fun to be had in the winter months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For many of us, enjoying family holiday traditions can get us thinking about camp and the traditions we enjoy most with our friends in the summer. So much of what we enjoy doing with our camp friends and cabin mates reflects a tight knit community and parallels what we cherish most with our family.

Our camp community is unique in the way that everything we do intentionally builds strong relationships through shared experiences. We eat together, sleep together, cry, laugh and grow together. In an environment like that, it would be impossible NOT to develop strong bonds. One group of girls living their best lives as a family this summer were the girls of Tamarack. These energetic goofballs had lots of fun things to share from their summer.

What is something new that you learned about yourself at camp in 2022?

“That it is so fun to try something new.” – Eloise J.

“I can do a backbend now.” – Lia D.

“How to ride a horse because I used to be scary for me.” – Morgan B.

“Don’t try to be the exact same thing as everyone because It’s Cool To Be You in ’22!” – Aria C.

“That I could make lots of friends, I don’t need to be shy to meet new people, and I can be without my parents for 4 weeks :)” – Marina G.

In what ways did you GROW this summer?

“I grew in swimming by passing a level.” – Maggie T.

“I kept trying even when I didn’t understand English.” – Ana Roberta

“I rode a horse for the first time and at first I was scared, but now I really like it!” – Olivia H.

“Getting in the lake fast.” – Roberta K.

“This year I got to level 4 in swimming and got to 20 yards in archery.” – Masyn

“I tried skiing.” – Aria C.

In what ways did you feel part of your cabin and the camp COMMUNITY?

“I enjoyed getting to know my cabin and building relationships with them.” – Isa G. (Live-In CIT)

“My counselors made me feel included.” – Clara S.

“When I was sad my cabin tried to cheer me up and when others were sad I cheered them up.” – Eloise J.

“Cabin Night brought us together.” – Lia D.

“Karaoke brought us together.” – Morgan B.

“I worked through conflict and others built me up.” – Maggie T.

In what ways did you see RESPECT this summer?

“Everyone was including everyone and they had fun together.” – Marina G.

“In my activity areas and by my counselors.” – Ana Roberta

“When I did not know what to do my cabin mates helped me.” – Olivia H.

“Cheering for my cabin.” – Masyn

“I listen and was present to people who needed me and learned to embrace peoples differences.” – Isa G. (Live-In CIT)

Happy New Year from Sunnyside

New year, new you… and we will be Soaring Free in 2023! Camp is all about growth and becoming your best self through new  experiences and building relationships that can’t be found anywhere else. The girls from Sunnyside showed tremendous growth knocking out personal goals all summer long and we can’t wait to see what they can achieve in summer ’23!

 

What is something new that you learned about yourself at camp in 2022?

“That every day I can learn new things and try my best.” – Luciana C.

“That I love being outside and having as much fun as I can at archery, riding, sailing, and all of my other activities.” – Katharine B

“I learned about how I love teaching and helping others.” – Tori N. (Live-In CIT)

“I learned about myself that when I want to pass a level or something I don’t give up and I keep trying until I do it, so I am very determined.” – Amalia L.

In what ways did you GROW this summer?

“If something doesn’t go right, try again! I learned something new every day and went out of my comfort zone.” – Olivia S.

“I tried archery again and I also passed my levels and got announced at assembly.” – Katie

“I learned how to slalom.” – Ivana R.

“This summer I tried many new things like cantering in riding and waterskiing. I passed levels and I have done things I would never normally do and I am proud of that.” – Sophie S.

“I went out of my comfort zone when I learned to ski.” – Isabel H.

 

 

In what ways did you feel part of your cabin and the camp COMMUNITY?

“I made a lot of new friends.” – Luciana C.

“When we got our birch necklaces at birthday or just simply carrying on simple camp traditions like singing after dinner.” – Katharine B.

“Cabin activities, camp games, meals, activities, canoe trip… These all helped me become closer with people.” – Olivia S.

“We worked together during cabin night and gave each other compliments.” – Katie

 

In what ways did you see RESPECT this summer?

“I saw girls in my cabin work hard to include others and make new girls feel welcome in the camp family.” – Tori N. (Live-In CIT)

“When people wouldn’t question my decisions, and when they congratulated all of my level passing, and just knowing they are all always there for you.” – Amalia L.

“In all activities if you do something good, everyone cheers you on and is happy for you. Everyone wants you to do your best.” – Sophie S.

“When I first came to camp this summer and was homesick my cabin was really kind.” – Isabel H.

 

Don’t Try to Describe a Kiss Concert if You’ve Never Seen It 

I don’t know why this particular line from one of Jimmy Buffet’s many tunes struck me as I was driving in my car recently listening to Sirius XM radio. You are probably wondering how this even remotely relates to camp?! As I see it, from those on the outside looking in, camp is hard to understand. For those on the inside, camp is really hard to explain. Unfortunately, I have never been to a Kiss Concert. I’m pretty sure that my lack of attendance would make it extremely difficult for me to describe the bright lights, pyrotechnics, and leather jacket rock-n-roll experience with any sort of accuracy or legitimacy! And, even if you are a Kiss Concert aficionado, how do you explain it to someone who has never been?!

Now Hiring 2023 Staff for the CWTP Summer “Concert” Series

This is the time of year when camps are gearing up to hire staff. Camps Woodland and Towering Pines are no exception. For those who have worked at camp before, camp is usually a relatively easy sell. For the most part, former staff already know what to expect (like having been to a Kiss Concert at least once). They just get it. 

For those who are making the transition from longtime camper to first year counselors, it is familiar in some ways, yet unknown in others. Being a camper is like watching a Kiss Concert from the nosebleed section; you’re there and have an idea of what it’s like, yet you can’t really see the stage until you have a ticket that gets you closer to the front row (being on staff).

The people who really have a hard time understanding what working at camp is like are those staff who have never been to camp before, let alone to a small, family owned, Northwoods camp. This is why we need YOU. You’ve actually been to that “Kiss Concert” because you are connected to Woodland/Towering Pines in some way.

In the next several weeks, you will most likely be crossing paths with college age students (at family gatherings, while hanging out with friends and neighbors, at church or community events, etc.) who would be a great addition to the Woodland/Towering Pines camp family. We would love for you to encourage/suggest a summer working at camp to the emerging leaders you already know or will meet while gathering at various celebrations this holiday season!

A few talking points to share (even if you are an avid Camp Woodland or TP “concert goer” – you may need a little help with some of the important details!)

  • Leadership Development: What you water, grows. A summer working at Woodland/Towering Pines provides an opportunity for both personal and professional growth. Think of the power that comes from knowing what you ‘re good at, what’s most important, what keeps you engaged/motivated, what you want to avoid, how you like to work, and the growth opportunities that can be found in the midst of challenges.
  • Transferable Skills: A job at Woodland/Towering Pines provides the perfect ecosystem to practice and develop skills that lay the foundation for future jobs, careers, and life. Did you know that as a rule of thumb, 60% of the best jobs 10 years from now have NOT YET been invented? (Thank you, Thomas Frey.) And, the average person in today’s world changes jobs 12 times?! It is rare that someone gains aptitude in skills such as problem solving, teamwork, communication, and initiative by reading about it or taking a class. Rather, it is through an experience like working at camp, where this “stuff” has a chance to take hold. Minimal experience working with kids is needed on the front end (just a desire to work with people of ALL ages). However, a vast foundation of transferable skills applicable to an ever-changing landscape will be at-the-ready on the back end for whatever comes “next”.
  • Healthy Environment: Camps Woodland and Towering Pines promote overall wellness for campers AND staff. Working at camp provides opportunities for a healthy lifestyle in all wellness dimensions (physical, emotional, financial, career, creative, intellectual, social, spiritual, and environmental). A summer at camp for staff offers home-cooked meals that fuel active days, an appropriate level of stress that helps individuals stretch and grow, a paycheck to put towards present or future expenses, skills that are applicable to just about any occupation, occasions to wear costumes and make-up games, skits, songs, etc., a built-in peer group with opportunities to connect, a better idea of what gives meaning and purpose, a chance to live simply, be outside with forests and lakes as neighbors and go mostly “unplugged” from technology.
  • Caring Community: Very few work environments have support systems in place that do everything in their power to foster success every step along the way. With the many touch points throughout the hiring process, pre-camp/ongoing training, and a “deep bench” of senior staff and leaders who are there to mentor and coach, the framework is in place to help each staff member strive to be their best. Oh, and did I mention the campers who look up to and are the biggest cheerleaders for staff? 
  • Impact on the Next Generation: Today more than ever, children need a place to belong (and not just fit in) in order to spread their wings and try new things (in an environment where making a mistake is OK). Being a role model in a community that creates opportunities for kids to unleash their innate curiosity, creativity, and sense of adventure forms a direct link to the inevitable growth that occurs. Kids will undoubtedly take the lessons learned and memories made with them throughout the rest of their lives.
  • FUN! Mentioned last, but certainly not least! Fun is a big part of everything we do. Not fake or forced, just simple and real. The BEST kind of fun!

Have a staff member you would like to refer to the Camp Woodland or Towering Pines Summer “Concert” Series (June 16-August 9, 2023)? Have them complete this SHORT FORM, and we will do the rest! Know a former staff member who wants to come back? Share THIS RETURN STAFF FORM, and we will reach out from there.  

P.s. In case you are really wanting to see a Kiss Concert in person, I’m pretty sure that they are on their “end of the road” tour in ‘22-’23. You might be able to catch them at your favorite location abroad. I can tell with complete certainty that you won’t see me there because I will be at camp where we have our own light shows (bright, starry skies uninhibited by a city’s “glow”, pyrotechnics (weekly campfires, fireworks for the 4th of July, and the burning of the Olympic flame), and face painting on random occasions. I’m sure we can incorporate leather in there somewhere…we’re creative that way!

A Gift Guide for Your Woodland Girl

We love the Holiday season for all the reasons you might expect: spending time with friends and family, enjoying traditions new and old, the anticipation of the first snowfall of the year and all of the activities that come along with it.

Presents are always a big part of the festivities, and we care about them because to us, they are more than just “stuff.” When we gift generously and thoughtfully we demonstrate our love for other peoples’ joy.

In that spirit, we are sharing our gift guide for the Woodland Girl, where we’ve compiled our best ideas for meaningful presents to encourage growth and connection. Of course, experiencing camp is the best gift ever, but these are just a few extra ideas!

Gifts for Social/Emotional Growth

  • Our top recommendation? Nothing ever beats a trip to see her camp friends! Help her bridge the gap between summers by having a reunion with her favorite people mid-year.
  • Snail mail may be going out of fashion in the real world, but we still love it in our camp community! Help her flex those muscles with a set of personalized stationary or a return address stamp.
  • Put down your technology and laugh together with a family adventure book where you can scratch off challenges to complete together. After you’re done it becomes a crazy scrapbook of the memories you’ve created!
  • Jazz up your family game nights with a new one you can all enjoy. Check out One Night Ultimate Werewolf (it’s like camp-favorite Mafia!), Skyjo, or an escape room game. This blog post has LOTS more suggestions if you’re in the market!
  • What about giving her a beautiful shadowbox to store her sweetest camp memories? She can use it to display her wish boat candle, awards, a note from her counselor or cabin mate, or anything else that reminds her of her time spent with her camp family.
  • Or, how incredible would it be to create a Boom Box Keepsake Box for your girl, filled with encouragement, memories, and messages from her camp friends and counselors? It’s a gift anyone would treasure forever.
  • Table Topics are a classic, and we love this on-the-go version that will get your family connecting and sharing.

Gifts for Mental Growth

Gifts for Physical Growth

  • Recreate her favorite camp activities at home! Look for a shooting range, a pottery studio, or a gymnastics experience in your hometown. Bring the love of friendship bracelets home with some new craft supplies or string.
  • You can also gift her an upgraded accessory for next summer. Think a new tennis racquet, riding helmet or boots, a Crazy Creek, or camera to capture her favorite memories.
  • While calling this “growth” might be a stretch, Christmas is the perfect time  to get her some new camp apparel! You could also get her a new pair of Crocs! Or maybe a new backpack to carry around to activities.

Whatever gift you choose this Holiday season, your camper is sure to love he meaning and thoughtfulness behind it!

This blog is inspired by a North Carolina camp.

Happy Thanksgiving from Hilltop!

As the month of November comes to a close, we are reminded of Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving Special.  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 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 been to the Woodland Camp Reunion this past weekend, I am 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.  It was a special time for friends to reunite and catch up on the events of our days away from camp while knowing that summer ‘23 is now closer than it was in August!  We were even able to share a similar fare to Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving feast (popcorn, pretzels, cheese sticks, grapes, juice boxes, and other tasty treats!) while watching the highlights of the summer of 2022 and playing camp bingo to increase our chances at winning some amazing camp swag in the raffle.  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!

And now, a special thank you to the girls of Hilltop for sharing some of their insights from summer 2022:

What is something new that you learned about yourself at camp in 2022?

“That when I put myself to do something and try really hard I can do great.” – Julia S.

“I learned that I can try new things!” – Clara S.

“I learned that you should never try to hide your feelings.” – Phoebe H.

“That I should focus on the good. Also that I have the power to make or break my summer (mindset!)” – Molly K. (Liv-In CIT)

In what ways did you GROW this summer?

“Passing levels in activities and by speaking up for myself when I need to.” – Norah G.

“I grew this summer by always trying new things and never saying never.” – Natalia G.

“I grew in riding because I went out of my comfort zone and tried trotting on my own again.” – Zoe C.

“I grew by being less scared about things.” – Karen R.

“I tried archery and I skied, which is scary for me sometimes.” – Julia S.

In what ways did you feel part of your cabin and the camp COMMUNITY?

“When we did our camper council!” – Alex M.

“I felt a part of camp when I got announced at assembly and I felt a part of my cabin when I helped someone and made the right choice.” – Sydney A.

“When I went to exchanges. I also felt so good about myself during Olympics because everyone was cheering me on.” – Norah G.

“Everyone was always nice and kind to everyone which I appreciated a lot.” – Natalia G.

“I felt a part of my cabin when we all worked together on things.” – Zoe C.

In what ways did you see RESPECT this summer?

“I saw it in people knowing and loving each other.” – Clara S.

“I saw respect so much throughout camp. No matter where you were, you saw kindness and excitement.” – Sydney A.

“I learned to respect people’s space. I also learned to be more patient with people’s differences.” – Phoebe H.

“Appreciation for each other and support for each other’s goals. Also being friends with all kinds of people from all kinds of places.” – Molly K. (Liv-In CIT)

***Inspired by Kim Aycock’s 2019 post.