Archive for July, 2013

Tracy Bachmann | July 30, 2013

Playin’ around at camp

Seniors dash down the hill during the broom race at Games on the Hill

Seniors dash down the hill during the broom race at Games on the Hill

Hello Highlands fans! Where is the time going?! Only 11 more days left of camp. I’m on the countdown big time this year because, like you, I’m missing my own campers. While our daughter’s camp doesn’t post photos, I’ve been able to catch a glimpse or two of my kid over there and while it makes me miss her even more, I see how TAN and HAPPY she is. I can’t wait to hear about her time away. I’m happy to report her homesick letters (the ones where she begged us to “GET HER OWT!!”) have subsided and she admitted at visiting day that she “had kind of forgotten about us.” I consider that success!

This weekend was big in the life of Highlands. We turned 110 on Saturday. I feel like we are looking pretty youthful and spry given our ripe old age! We celebrated in traditional Highlands style, with the Steeplechase on Saturday morning. At 7:30 a.m. instead of being woken by the bugle, instead, campers were roused from their beds by the crazy Army/Navy staff entrances. You’ll see photos of this nonsense (staffers sitting on the hoods of cars, the mom in me does NOT approve). But the kids LOVE this. There’s music blaring and it’s a great way to kick off the fun that then ensues.

As you know camp is divided into two teams, Army and Navy and they competed in countess events. Each boy participated in at least one leg of the race, and often two. These events ranged from jumping off the towers into hula hoops, to dribbling a soccer ball around cones, to kayaking around Five Pines island, to casting a fishing line into a spot in the lake. It is my favorite day at camp. And while the weather left much (VERY) to be desired, that didn’t stop the boys from having a GREAT time. The highlights of the race are the water boil and the baker tent race This year, the teams were neck in neck until the very last event, which was the long kayak race around Five Pines . Woah. It was crazy! Two second generation Highlands men competed, Trey Taylor and Reed Altorfer. While Kent had the lead early in the race, Reed must have paced himself, because he pulled it out for a Navy victory. His prize? A kiss from the Lady of the Lake. (Just ask your boys for an explanation.)

The fun didn’t stop there. Camp was treated to the senior carnival in the afternoon and a picnic supper and Games on the Hill.

This is a week where many of our oldest campers are out of camp. They have headed off on their big trips to Pictured Rocks, Boundary Waters, sailing in Lake Superior and kayaking north woods waterways, among others. It sort of changes the vibe in camp and lets us act a little smaller. Tonight we’ll be treated to the music of Jim DiDomenico, lead singer of Underwater People, and we’ll roast marshmallows and have a big old dance party! Tomorrow is Division Day and the Juniors will head out of camp to play laser tag and picnic on a local lake. That’s a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, your boys are having lots of it. I had the rare moment of just hangin’ out on Junior Hill yesterday, soaking up the sun and watching our young teens play giant jenga (again, thank you to our craft instructor, Becky D.), goof around with some funny balloons that make totally inappropriate noises when you let the air out of them, and throw a Nerf football around. It’s amazing what boys will do when left to their own devices on a sunny afternoon for an hour or so. In the incredibly scheduled times in which we live, I think the few unstructured moments at camp are so good for our boys. I believe in these moments of freedom is where real creativity and growth can happen. I saw boys share, laugh, play and lollygag. In the wise words of Snow Nothdurft, “How lucky we are.”

Keep those postcards and letters coming. It’s not the packages that the boys love so much, but instead the excitement of something real in the mailbox. They check it every day (sometimes 16 times a day). Tomorrow the real zoom-time begins.

And on that note…

One Response

  1. hilda sitges says:
    July 31st, 2013 at 4:36 am

    cant wait to hug Esteban and listen to all the traditions of Highlands like the kiss of the lady of the lake!!!
    thanks a lot for keeping us updated.
    i love to think of Tracy as a mom from a girls camp as well as part of the staff of a boys camp.
    nobody could have a better understanding of a parent with a kid on a summer camp. it´s a blessing to have her and read her notes.

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Tracy Bachmann | July 25, 2013

The sweet spot at Camp

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Livin’ the sweet life in the boating bay at Camp Highlands

If this weather could make up it’s mind, that sure would be great! At this exact moment, it’s balmy and over cast. Ten minutes ago it was sunny and warm. As long as it’s not raining, we will take it!

I have to tell you, we have hit the sweet spot here at camp. Those first week jitters are over, the boys haven’t been living together long enough to be on each others nerves and the end of term fever has not yet set in. Most of the Colt cabins (except for cabin 16) have already come and gone on their canoe trips, and the Juniors will all be back from their trips by Friday night. It’s nice we have this mellow week before this weekend hits…

This weekend. It’s huge. I mean, you don’t turn 110 every day. We’ve invited alumni and friends of Highlands to help us celebrate. If you are in the neighborhood, we’d love to see you. The Steeplechase starts around 9:30 a.m. and finishes up around 11:30 a.m. At 2:30 p.m. you can be entertained and amused by the Senior Carnival (silly games, rewarded with Bachmann Bucks). You’re invited to eat a picnic supper on Junior Hill, followed by Games on the Hill. It’s an action-packed day!

While it’s true we are only half-way through the term, we know many of you are starting to make your end of term plans. If you have not noted your son’s travel home plans on your account page, please do so as soon as possible.

Remember the final banquet is on Friday 8/9.
• 3 p.m. CH water carnival (more silly games, one involving a greased watermelon)
• 6 p.m. picnic supper (please RSVP on your account page with names of all attendees)• 7 – 8:30 p.m. banquet and awards

You may take your son home that night, or you can take him home before 9 a.m. on Saturday morning.

But for now, let’s not talk about the end. Let’s talk about 16 short days of breezy afternoons sailing, shooting bulls eyes at archery, getting up on skis and repelling down the stone chimney on the club house!

And on that note…

I ❤ CH // tracy b.

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Tracy Bachmann | July 25, 2013

Dear Highlands Staff

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Yo’ T., Noah T., Ben C. and Jordan T. are just some of the incredible Camp Highlands staffer that bring the perfect combo of fun, safety and experience.

 

Dear Highlands staff,
We probably don’t say it enough, but we are so thankful for YOU. Without you we’d just be a spot on the map. You are special to us in so many ways.

From the CIT who taught me the proper way to mix the sanitizing bleach mix for the pots and pans in the kitchen, to the 70+ year-old guy who insures each trip goes out with the right tools and food – we appreciate you.

We notice when you take the extra effort to roast marshmallows with your cabin on Five Pines in the evening. We notice when you holler words of encouragement to that boy who is almost to the top of the clubhouse chimney. We notice when you put your arm around a fellow when he’s feeling blue and just listen.

We notice when one boy asked another boy to “smell his ice-cream” and then pushed the cone in the other boy’s face, and you didn’t yell at anyone. You said, “I’m waiting to see if they’ll work it out.” And guess what? They did.

We notice when you tell your guys to brush their teeth and blow their noses. Really.

We notice when you get up at 5 a.m. to start baking muffins and when you stay up until 11 p.m. to put turkeys in the oven. Thank you for keeping our bellies full and happy with homemade food!

We appreciate the time and energy you put into keeping Highlands clean and tidy. Lodge staff, we appreciate the hours you spend beating rugs and serving meals to our guests and making sure everyone feels welcome at camp.

When you truly appreciate the boys in your cabin – when you laugh at their jokes and make them feel incredibly loved – we notice.

You know how you are spending the better part of your waking hours with a zillion boys of varying ages, backgrounds, abilities, personalities and volume control? Well, we know that’s the hardest job out there. We know.

In a 17 short days, camp will be over. But long after the last cabin window is pulled closed, the time and energy you put into each boy will continue to permeate their lives – like a slow-release medication. The 11-year old you took a little extra time with in skiing might translate that attention into success in school and with his peers. Can you imagine that?

When you showed an extra measure of patience or humor with your cabin, you were modeling powerful behavior. Your dedication to the I’m Third motto, your commitment to the Worthwhile way and your appreciation for the men that came before you is contagious and inspiring.

We know Highlands is a special place, not merely a spot on the map. Highlands is a vortex for manhood. A place where boys can try, climb, learn, fail, succeed, fall and soar (in no particular order). And without you, the most powerful ingredient, that magic would not exist.

For all you do, we notice and we are thankful.

And on that note…

I ❤ CH // tracy b.

Rocket building with Nick K., our Cub head counselor

Rocket building with Nick K., our Cub head counselor

Archery with CIT John M.

Archery with CIT John M.

 

It's always a party at the slack line with Alex M.

It’s always a party at the slack line with Alex M.

One Response

  1. Kris Milner says:
    July 26th, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Coming from a mother of many-year, camper-turned-staffer this year, I think this post has touched me more than any other. I’m learning this summer that now that my camper is a CIT, I’m not wondering about him less, I’m wondering about him differently and maybe even more. You see, all the appreciation I’ve felt over the years of the wonderful CH staff and your ability to take care of my boy while he was at camp is converted into an even greater appreciation of your invitation to and confidence in him to become one of you, an example of a Worthwhile Man. Thank you CH!

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Tracy Bachmann | July 21, 2013

Reflect on Sunday

Ross and Andy talking during Sunday Assembly

Ross and Andy talking during Sunday Assembly

As many of you know, Sunday is a quieter day around Camp. There are open activity periods in the morning and a required soap swim before Sunday Assembly. Assembly is a great time for boys to slow down and reflect on some of the changes that might be taking place in their minds and souls during their time in Never-never Land. Today’s reflections offered by Andy and Ross were some of the most poignant we’ve had to date, in my opinion. They talked about being a Worthwhile man, and what it means to be “Third,” but they both came at it today with a fresh perspective and energy. It was great. Ross relayed the story of Lucas Winter washing his trip’s dishes in the freezing cold rain after a 20 mile hike. On his birthday. And Andy relayed the story of being recently rescued from the side of the road by two incredibly generous strangers.

It could very well be that I’m just tired, but I got misty eyed when Andy recited the Worthwhile Man prayer, calling specific attention to the verse, that goes, “Give me the strength to stand for right when other folks have left the fight.” I watched the Cubs, our littlest boys, listen to Andy and Ross, completely mesmerized. To me, these are some of the greatest moments at camp. Whether they learn these lessons by actually listening or by osmosis, I’m not sure, but it’s pretty cool either way.

If you’ve been keeping track of the weather, you’ll know we’ve had some relief from the heat. Thank goodness! Yesterday was in the low 70s and gorgeous. A perfect afternoon for “clubs.” Your guys got to sign up for their selection of: “Top Shot” (riflery competition), soccer tournament, juggling, slack line, Frisbee golf tournament, craw fish gathering for a craw fish boil and model rocket building. Walking around camp, I thought, “man, camp looks fun!” Club days are a great time for boys to hang out with boys not in their cabin, or even in their division!

Tonight is “walk-through” dinner, AKA leftover night. Boys have to write a letter to gain admittance to supper! So if you haven’t gotten a letter yet, you can start looking for one mid-week! Just hope that they don’t choose to write their Grammy and Pop first.

Two of our big Senior trips to Isle Royal went out this week, and the Colt division (all but two cabins so far) went on their three-day canoe trip. We are all starting to look forward to our birthday celebration this weekend on the 27th. 110!!! Amazing! This is a great weekend to come for a visit. The Steeplechase is a BLAST, and of course Games on the Hill is a big crowd pleaser.

This first week has gone beautifully. And listen to this: only 20 more days left. That’s FAST. Before you know it, you’ll have these guys back in their beds, making tons of laundry and eating you out of house and home.

And on that note…

I ❤ CH // tracy b.

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Tracy Bachmann | July 17, 2013

The H Word

Three days into camp. I don’t know about you, but I miss my kids. One is 11 and here at camp. While I do have the benefit of catching a glimpse of him now and again, he hasn’t lived under my roof in going on four weeks. The other one is eight and is at camp for the first time starting this past Monday.

I’m in the business of swooping off with other people’s children for three to seven weeks. I talk a mean game when it comes to kids being lonesome for home. We preach about preparation, we talk about what good hands your kids are in, we post inspirational messages from other parents, heck we even broadcast on National Public Radio with New York Times best-selling authors talking about the subject. I’d like to say we know a thing or two about how to deal with the dreaded “H word.” We’re talking about homesickness.

Despite all my training and knowledge on the topic, and the years upon years of watching kids thrive at camp – without their parents – I had no idea how I’d feel when I got this letter in the mail today.

Stella's first letter home

Stella’s first letter home

My first reaction was, “Boy, her spelling is terrible.” My second reaction was, “Oh, poor baby!” I set it down, walked away from it and came back an hour later. I took a photo of it and posted it to Instagram. I texted it to my mom, my sister and my girlfriend. I wasn’t really sure the emotion I was having. Sad? Proud? Amused? Worried? Lonesome for my kid? Yes.

What I do know is that she’s in a loving environment, with a bunch of amazing young women who will teach her things about being a woman and a human in ways that I can’t. Like the NYT article titled Why Camp Counselors Can Out-Parent Parents, by afore mentioned NYT best-selling author, Michael Thompson says,

“Children love to learn, but they get tired of being taught by adults. Children want to learn from older children, and, at a camp that means older campers, C.I.T.’s (counselors in training) and camp counselors. They want to live with them, emulate them, absorb them.”

So today, in this moment, I’m just excited for her to be there – with so much on the horizon for her – so much to absorb. Canoe strokes, backhand, how to be a decent roommate, and how to overcome feeling homesick. Maybe it’s the Marine brat in me, but at this moment, I’m not worried in the least.

Talk to me in five minutes. I’m sure I’ll have changed my mind.

Remember moms and dads, your kids will be sending letters home from Highlands that they wrote in their first moments at camp. Take them with a grain of salt. The first week is, well, the first week. It takes time to adjust to any new living environment. Our staff is working around the clock to keep your boys busy and healthy. And they are here to validate feelings of sadness, and to remind them that it’s ok to feel sad, but the idea is to not let it overtake them. Try not to write every day (it can actually make homesickness worse), but when you do write, keep encouraging them and keep it positive.

Keep checking the blog and the gallery. Hopefully you’ll get your fix. Be easy on yourself, you’ll adjust, too! And goodness, you only have 3.5 more weeks to go! Let’s try not to wish it away too quickly!

And on that note…

I ❤ CH // tracy b.

 

3 Responses

  1. Marcela says:
    July 18th, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Hi Tracy,
    Is really touching your blog, and I understand you, I have both of my kids out of home, but the thing that makes me feel very happy and thankful, is that my son is in the hands of people like you, and he most be very happy and learning a lot of things and making new friends. Thank you, I enjoy your blog. Please keep posting photos, is very exciting and make feel I’m also in the camp.
    Best regards.

  2. hilda sitges says:
    July 18th, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Tracy, its so nice to know you are this summer on both sides: camp staff and mother! for us, other parents, its a blessing… i do appreciate your words enormously!
    and i completely agree: our kids are at the best place at the best moment
    there cant be a greater blessing than that.
    I can only thank the Universe for places like camp that place love and values at the first place of the list.

  3. Becky Kuntz says:
    July 18th, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Tracy- you and your family have been so good to my boys but now you know how I feel. I have a green painted “bog rock” on my desk that Tom gave me years ago that I often hold when I am thinking of him. It is all good, just a little uncomfortable in the middle. Thank you for making it easier for all of us and know tat Stella is in good hands.

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