Category: Why Camp Woodland?!

Happy Sweetest Day from Starshine!

For the month of October, we are celebrating “Sweetest Day” (the 3rd Saturday of the month) and highlighting our youngest cabin for 2018, Starshine. Sweetest Day has an interesting origin tied to the Midwest that goes back to the 1920’s and is not celebrated in every state. While there is disagreement on the true story of the beginnings of this holiday, there is consensus that the sentiment remembers those less fortunate through distribution of candy by a group of people who were trying to make a difference. Sweetest Day might be described as a tamer version of Valentine’s Day. One blog writer mentions that the October version focuses on the “actual thoughts behind the actions” that we normally associate with the popular February holiday.

In learning more about the history of Sweetest Day, I really like the ties to camp that it promotes. At Woodland, being kind to others is part of our culture and an important thread that is woven in the fabric of our community. It is who we are and what we do. I can’t think of a better cabin to “sponsor” the blog this month than the sweetest group of girls found in Starshine. Being the youngest campers and ranging from 7-9 years of age, they captured the hearts of us all. The giggles that flowed freely from this group was nothing short of contagious.   When laughter erupted, the whole cabin and sometimes the entire camp followed suit!

It must be magical to experience so many things for the very first time as did the campers from Starshine this summer. At every turn there was a song, a game, an event, an activity or skill, a food choice, a camp tradition or a budding friendship that was a path untraveled. I love watching the oldest campers nurture the impressionable beings of those who look at everything with fresh eyes gleaming with wonder and awe. The sisterhood of our camp family invites veteran Woodland girls to assist youngsters whose size is most certainly dwarfed by a horse and often by the bow used to take aim at an archery target. Being a role model for the younger campers is an honor that is not taken lightly – it is a continuation of the caring cycle of those campers and counselors who came before.

I would be amiss not to mention that another tie to camp is that Sweetest Day is often marked by a gift of candy. I can say with conviction that this year’s Starshine girls LOVED their candy!   This was verified every afternoon during Canteen at Rec Swim and Sunday movie nights.   Just ask the CIT’s if you need proof of this claim (or check out the photo below showing popsicles as a “sweet” treat)!

We invite you to read on and discover the “sweetest” or best moments from the 2018 Starshine campers.

What is one thing you know now that you didn’t know at the beginning of the summer?

Angie: How to shoot an arrow

Annie: How to survival float

Maddie: Archery

Ivana: My English is better, and I learned how to be away from my parents for 6 weeks

Eleanor: Front crawl

Mariana: Swimming, riding, and speaking English

Alice: Don’t pack off the packing list

Describe a change you made in yourself this summer:

Angie: I became more independent

Annie: I have better hygiene

Maddie: I am better at riding

Ivana: When someone tried to speak in French, I was able to answer in English

Eleanor: I became less scared of trotting

Mariana: I know more English and am more responsible

Alice: I used to get snacks between meals and now I don’t

What are ways you were kind to the campers in your cabin or in general:

 Angie: I comforted them when they were sad

Annie: I helped out

Maddie: I tried to be nice

Ivana: By making them laugh

Eleanor: Helping them

Mariana: I tried to be more tolerant

Alice: By helping them and telling them what to do if they needed help


How did others show kindness to you?

Angie: They hung out with me and comforted me when I was sad

Annie: If I made a mistake, they wouldn’t yell at me

Maddie: By helping me in activities

Ivana: By making me feel welcome at camp

Eleanor: By helping me

Mariana: By teaching me about camp

Alice: In riding the CIT’s helped me with the stirrups


More Than a Camp Meal – It’s Food For the Body & Soul!

Posted by on June 29, 2018

Treetops “Family” Enjoying a Meal Together

Thinking back to when I was a kid, I can remember how important eating dinner together as a family was to my parents.  Even though my Dad had a business to run and my siblings and I had sports practice, games, homework, piano lessons, and a number of other things I probably don’t even remember, rarely a day would go by when we didn’t sit down as a family for the evening meal.  My Mom did everything in her power to work around our busy schedules so that we could share time together around the table most nights until I graduated from high school.

Driftwood Awaits Dessert (notice the spoons!)

While I may not have thoroughly appreciated it back then, when I reflect on our family’s shared meal experience, I now realize how precious and sacred that time really was.  It’s no wonder that at camp, I always look forward to the ritual of coming together as a community to enjoy not just one meal, but 3 squares together: breakfast, lunch, AND dinner!  Let’s be honest, I also enjoy mealtime because I am always STARVING due to being on the move and keeping active during a typical camp day, so there is a basic need to be met.  Once my physical self is refueled and ready to take on the next adventure, my social-emotional self is also nourished from the act of being together with my camp “family.”

Hilltop Smiles!

What I know now that I didn’t know when I was still living at home, it that there are numerous positive outcomes that come from bonding over a meal.  Just the mere act of coming together and TALKING with one another is food for the soul.  Breakfast is usually a little more quiet than the other two meals (as you might imagine, pre-teens and teens are not fully awake just yet – unless it is Saturday which means DONUT DAY!), but there is the anticipation of an exciting day ahead while campers discuss what they are looking forward to with each girl’s schedule of activities.  Today could present the opportunity to canter for the first time in riding, learn to dive in swimming, practice a dance routine for the upcoming show, or enjoy making a picture frame in arts and crafts.

Hello, Tamarack!

Come lunch time, the dining room is filled with non-stop chatter as campers take turns giving a blow-by-blow recap of their morning and all that transpired in the past few hours.  The volume has definitely increased since we were last together, and the energy has more than quadrupled (if I had to wager a guess!).  Having a good chunk of time to sit around a table with your cabin offers an incredible opportunity to share thoughts, ideas, goals, dreams, stories, and more with the people you are getting to know in a group living setting.  In just a short period of time, campers feel comfortable and safe to be transparent and real in these conversations while enjoying a meal together.

What’s Up, Silver Birch?

When assembly rolls around following an afternoon of more fun and adventure, we once again file into the lodge for our 3rd meal of the day.  Some cabins sit in the “front” part of the dining room, while others gather in the “back.”  Both locations have their advantages!  Having a table in the front means you are close to the awesome fire that Chet builds many mornings (a plus when the air is a bit “crispy”), and being in the back means enjoying a view of the lake along with a refreshing breeze (if the weather calls for the windows to be open).  I vividly remember sitting at a table in the back as a counselor and getting to see an eagle perched in the giant pine tree right outside the door.  What a treat to have such a majestic creature join us!

Tamarack Continued

After the evening meal and another opportunity to check in with each other about afternoon activities and accomplishments, the CIT’s pass out song books and we enjoy time to sing together as a camp community.  Some songs tell a funny story (Ship Titanic), while others have motions (A Boy and A Girl in a Little Canoe) or offer a chance for the front and back dining rooms to sing in a round (Zoom Golly-Golly).  We wrap up this camp tradition every night by singing two legendary Woodland songs (W – That’s the Way it Begins… and We Are From Woodland, Woodland Are We…).

It’s the Sunnyside Bunch!

Another benefit of eating 3 meals a day together is that we take the time to SLOW DOWN and ENJOY each other’s company, which is a rarity in any other place.  We are able to relax a bit, reflect on the experiences a camp day has to offer, and revel in the laughter and fun we share as a cabin group.  Meal times are the BEST!

p.s. I should also mention that the food at Camp Woodland is delicious!  Most meals are served from “scratch” — don’t be surprised if your camper comes home with a few menu requests that are not your average fare!


It’s All Fun and Games or Is It?!

Posted by on July 4, 2017

Independence Day is quite a celebration around here!  The CIT’s kick off our multi-day event by hosting 4th of July Games the Sunday before the actual holiday.  Woodland alum will recognize perennial favorites such as the clothes relay down the Woodland Road, water balloon toss, orange pass, shave a balloon, and water relay (just to name a few!).

In addition to a multitude of laughs and memories to recount later to friends and family, there is a LOT more embedded within an afternoon of fun and games than just meets the eye.  I’m sure it is no surprise that there is a noticeable decline in the amount of time spent playing for both kids and adults.  Busy schedules drive us from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until our head hits the pillow at night.  The great news is that there is an abundance of play at Camp Woodland!  Play is what we do!

In a TEDMED Talk Jill Vialet shares that “It is easy to dismiss play as trivial and unimportant; however, there is nothing farther from the truth.  Play is kids’ work in that it is a form of experiential learning that contributes directly to a person’s ability to handle failure, to work in teams, and to take risks.”  (Jill sounds like she must have spent some time hanging out with Mr. and Mrs. Jordan at camp!)

If a very large balloon covered in shaving cream pops during one of the games, then a camper is faced with an opportunity to gracefully handle the situation.  Learning not to take things seriously and to laugh at oneself are good qualities to master for more challenging dilemmas down the road.  Being able help your teammates maneuver through the giant “spider web” requires an enormous amount of trust on the part of each individual.  The awkwardness of passing an orange from person to person is great practice being silly and not caring what other people think.  Playing offers a multitude of little ways to step out of our comfort zones and make frequent deposits in our confidence banks.  This will pay huge dividends later!

According to Jill Vialet, play matters because:

  1. it provides a brief respite from the tyranny of apparent purpose (I guarantee campers are not thinking about the final math test they took at the end of the semester during the water balloon toss!).
  2. it compels us to choose to say, “I care” and better come to know ourselves (Stuffing a giant marshmallow in your mouth is a great way to do just that!).
  3. people matter and it reminds us of our interdependence with others.  It gives us a chance to see other people and in turn to be really and truly seen (There is a whole wide world out there, and it is a lot of fun to play with others!).

Can’t wait for the annual 4th of July Campfire tonight at Towering Pines!  

References: More Than Fun and Games – Play Matters by Nancy Brown (Huffington Post) and TEDMED Talk by Jill Vialet.

A special shout out to Bill Gonio (friend and former staff at Towering Pines) for giving me permission to “borrow” a few key phrases from one of his 2014 blog posts!  As always, thanks, Bill, for your inspiration!

Choose Camp Woodland!


I’m sure it goes without saying that you have seen your share of political ads over the past several weeks and months. More than likely, these ads are telling you something about the choices you should make on November 8th.  So, instead of advising you who to vote for, we would like to give you a better choice this year. We want you to CHOOSE CAMP!


Here at Camp Woodland, we actually care about the thing that most politicians only pretend to pay attention to – your kids and your family. Our goal in what we to do is to help kids get outside and explore nature, to make new friends and connect with their peers face-to-face instead of through a screen, and to try new things and gain confidence. Regardless of who you vote for, make a great choice, CHOOSE CAMP! We hope to see you this summer!

We are Camp Woodland and we approve this message.

(inspired by Camp Ocean Pines’ video)

There is a Difference…

Posted by on July 30, 2016

There is a Difference. . .

Between playing Pokemon Go and searching for the “Mother Lode” on Gold Rush Day with your cabin.  Teamwork and persistence are key to gathering clues and puzzling out the location of the infamous gold rock.

Gold Rush

There is a Difference. . .

Between listening to your iPod and hearing the sounds of birds singing a wake-up tune, waves splashing on the shores of Sand Lake, wind whistling through the tall pine trees, halyards chiming on sailboat masts, and the echo of campers laughing.


There is a Difference. . .

Between grabbing food on the go and spending time with your cabin family sharing a meal 3 times a day.  The conversations that happen daily around the table are instrumental to cabin bonding and friendships.


There is a Difference. . .

Between watching a video on YouTube and seeing live performances of the annual Lip Sync, Song, and Ugly Counselor Contests and the end of session drama, dance and gymnastics shows.  There is no substitute for seeing the culmination of learning new skills, tireless rehearsing, and celebrating a job well done.


There is a Difference. . .

Between having a conversation on Snap Chat or other Social Media and a face-to-face “real-time” exchange with a cabin mate or camp friend.  Being able to see facial expression, read body language and interpret emotion are pivotal to understanding the intricacies of social interaction.


There is a Difference. . .

Between viewing photos on a screen and seeing nature’s splendor growing on the side of a tree by Silver Birch cabin, bald eagles flying overhead while sailing, loons swimming on the lake during canoe class, the sun setting from your campsite, and deer bounding through the Climax Forest while on a trail ride.


The Difference is pretty clear to me. . .a summer at Woodland makes all the difference in the world!