Archive for the ‘alumni’ Category

Andy Bachmann | June 29, 2016

ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE

This morning, walking up to flag raising I overheard one of our staff guys comment to a young camper as he was gazing out over the boating bay, “Another day in paradise, eh?” The young man simply grinned and nodded. Another day in paradise, indeed.

It’s been quite a week at Camp Highlands. This past Saturday we had our 4th of July Army/Navy Track Meet (on the 25th of June…don’t ask…) where it was LITERALLY neck and neck the entire time, INCLUDING our final lap on our final relay which saw an absolute TIE at the finish line, resulting in the first ever TIE of the track meet. At the announcement in the Dining Hall, with the anxious Admiral Armstrong and General Fox waiting to hear who would bear the brunt of the challenge, what I thought would be a disappointing announcement actually produced the opposite result. The hall erupted in cheers, and a spontaneous chant of, “Highlands! Highlands! Highlands! We’re all friends!” Everyone was thrilled—and the General and Admiral thought it only fair that they BOTH participate in the challenge. Go Highlands!

On Sunday at our Assembly, after telling the boys the story of I’m Third, we had some powerful testimonies from some of our men from Cabin One. It was great. Then, with a heavy heart I inducted Ross Freeland into the Camp Highlands Hall of Fame, and announced that we have renamed our ball fields, “Freeland Field.”

And then we added a new Honor Camper Quality to our list of 17. The new quality added is one that is exemplified in the I’m Third motto. This trait encourages us to measure our sense of self esteem and pride against a higher moral code; a moral code that places our value in the ways in which we act and interact with the world around us, not by the amount of “likes” we get on our selfies.

Truth is we are flawed people; we make mistakes and fall short; we let our vanity take advantage of our morals, and our desires overcome our hopes and visions. And that is just part of who we are. Which is why this value is a good one to have.
This value affirms us in our brokenness, and invites us to give life a go again; to try, and to fail, and to try again.

So we add our 18th honor camper quality. It is, “Humility.”
Author CS Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Contrary to what popular culture may want us to believe, we believe that the greatest rewards in this life come from our ability to live well, love others and be of good service. And this trait is the cornerstone to understanding that and living into it well. And this place is one where we are affirmed in our willingness to try again, to be good to one another, and to have a great time while doing it. Another beautiful day in paradise, indeed.

Better. Wortwhile. Highlands.

2 Responses

  1. John Zokovitch says:
    June 29th, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Love this post Andy. I know how much Johnny thought of Ross and I am glad he will think of him every time he sets foot onto Freeland Field. I’m so thankful for you, your staff and family, and everyone at Camp Highlands.

  2. LIz powell says:
    October 7th, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Nicely said Andy. I love how you brought the number of likes into their reality in contrast to what we “mature” and broken adults know about leading a worthwhile life.

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Andy Bachmann | July 15, 2015

CHOF’s on Parade

I had an interesting realization the other day.
I was sitting with THREE of my former counselors at supper. And there were only 4 of us at the table.

How lucky am I?

Someone recently remarked to me that they thought it might be odd that we have SO many CHOF’s on staff. To me, it would be odd NOT to have them here.

I’m a big fan of depth; whether it is on my staff here at Highlands, or really in any worthwhile organization. At a camp, having guys who are 19 years old is important. They can be your high energy, every minute is an opportunity to do something zany, let’s go ahead and play dodgeball for two hours kind of guys. And their energy and enthusiasm drives camp—keeps it action packed and adventurous. And we need that- and we love that.

But it is also important to me to balance that with our seasoned veterans- our 24 year old guys who are swinging through Highlands during their grad school years, or as a last gasp before they head into the corporate world. These guys can still bring the enthusiasm, but they’re also the guys who are willing to step up to leadership opportunities; whether it is leading our big trips or teaching fellow staff members about trip safety and cabin bonding. They are gold.

And then I have our CHOF’s (Camp Highlands Old…Fellas). The CHOF’s are those of us (yes, us…) who range in age from 27-77. Dave runs the trip room. Otter helps there, and pretty much anywhere else he’s needed. When not at Highlands, Loren is a teacher in Kansas; here he teaches canoeing. Kent is a retired teacher and cross-country coach. Here he leads our low-ropes course, and is the head counselor of our youngest guys. I have 14 guys over the age of 40 on staff.

The value of having this 60 year swing in staff age is that I have a grounded, well-rounded group of guys who can bring their passion for all things Highlands, and provide the kind of coverage and decision making skills necessary to ensure that our campers have an incredible experience here. Their history at Highlands (heck, I have a few 19 year old guys who already have 10 years at Highlands!) means our values and the qualities we hold dear run deep. Both (2!) of our new staff men caught on pretty quick to the Highlands Way. My hope is your campers catch the spirit as well. I believe that having the old guys around is just as important as having the young. And I consider myself quite lucky to have the opportunity to bring them all back, year after year after year. To me, this is just one of the reasons why we have thrived for so long at Camp Highlands. And, to me, it is so cool to have my first counselor here, my last counselor here, and not one but TWO of the guys in the middle.

Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.
AB

From right to left, AB's last counselor, Craig Ericksen, his first counselor, Dave Baker, and one from the middle, Jim DiDomenico

From right to left, AB’s last counselor, Craig Ericksen, his first counselor, Dave Baker, and one from the middle, Jim DiDomenico

3 Responses

  1. Jackie Langas says:
    July 15th, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    The varied ages of all the counselors is one of the things that makes Camp Highlands a very special place!

  2. Kris Milner says:
    July 15th, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Absolutely, such a great strength of staff at camp for my son’s five years as a camper and now in his third year as a counselor. It is amazing! He is just departing for an 8 day hike on Isle Royale leading a group of 6 guys carrying in and out all of their food and supplies to hike 110 miles.
    Please pray for their good weather and fortune. Highlands Rah!

  3. Julie Ott says:
    July 20th, 2015 at 12:38 am

    What a great article. As a mom of campers (and now seasoned counselors), seeing young counselors made me confident that my campers would benefit from the electric energy that youth provides. Seeing the more mature staff allowed me, as a mom, to be confident that the electric energy would be safely contained! Older counselors provide security to parents who may be separated from their children for the first substantial length of time, but more importantly, they allow campers the security of exploring and growing while knowing that someone who looks and acts just a bit like mom or dad (or grandpa or grandma) will know exactly what to do or say if they encounter a rough spot or just need some advice.

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Andy Bachmann | July 12, 2015

The Stage is Set…

We were anticipating rain and not a drop has fallen. The bus has arrived and campers have been settled. I once again feel the excitement in the air; but now the voices that echo out, “Ga-Ga-Ball!” are different than the ones I heard just two days ago. Second Term has officially begun, and I am already so excited for this new batch of campers to be here.

One quick glance through the cabin list this year and you might think we were in the 1980’s or 1990’s. It has been so fun seeing all these alumni drifting through camp—guys of my generation—dropping off their sons for their first (or fifth) Highlands summer. And we have a great crop of newbies, too! (I’m listening to an “old” camper explain the mailboxes to a new camper as we speak…and it’s kind of hilarious.)

The next 17 hours will have us memorizing names, listening to rules, learning about water safety, gun safety and archery safety; as well as learn how to be waiter and request an activity. Then swim tests, and BOOM! Right into the flow of camp.

Exciting times are in store for us this summer. Our staff is outstanding – one of the best I can remember (and no, I don’t say that every year…) and they are all pumped for Second Term.

So the stage is set- the players have arrived, and it’s time to raise the curtain on Act 2 of our 112th season. If it’s anything like Act 1 we are all in for a treat.

Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.
AB

thistothis

Boys race off the bus, everyone grabs gear and the field is cleared in 8:23 flat!

4 Responses

  1. Carol Bachmann says:
    July 13th, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Tracy,
    LOVE your blogs!
    Many thanks, Carol

  2. Carol Bachmann says:
    July 13th, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Oops, Andy too, love your blogs!

  3. Maria Castro says:
    July 15th, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    I love your blog !!! Thanks for sharing with us what our children are doing in the camp throught their stories and photos, that causes us tranquility and makes us very happy!! thank you very much !!

  4. Suzanne Stamm says:
    July 17th, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Better. Worthwhile. Highlands. Says it all–thank you!

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Andy Bachmann | June 29, 2014

ANYONE! ANYONE! ANYONE!

Perhaps you’ve heard of “gagaball?” It was new to me—but for the last couple of years the fellow who trains our lifeguards every summer has been STRONGLY encouraging me to get one. So this year, I did. And it’s a blast.

Players enter the “pit.” A hexagon frame about two feet tall, 17’ across. Then they take this little ball, bounce it, then start to bat it around trying to hit the other players on the leg, from the knee down. You get hit below the knee, you’re out. Pretty simple. But the campers go crazy for it.

One great thing about gaga is it is a self-policing game. Players know when they’re out, and they go out. Games rarely last more than 3 minutes. And they’re FUN!

A few days ago, a bunch of Cubs and Colts were playing, and the chants started. “Cubbies! Cubbies!” vs. “Colts! Colts! Colts!” I don’t even remember who won; but someone did. Then, during the NEXT game, when there were only two players in the pit, they started chanting again. But this time it was, “ANYONE! ANYONE!”

Today we celebrated the Fourth of July (on the 28th of June- I know! I know! But YOU try to get 21 trips in and out of camp in 21 days. The first Saturday of the term we have everyone in camp, so we do our All-Camp games) and it was a testament to the art of friendly competition.

As you know, we divide all of camp in to two teams: the Army and the Navy. Once you’re on a team you’re on a team for LIFE. And so are all of your offspring. I’m a third generation Navy man myself. There really is no rhyme or reason for it- it’s just how we can divide into two teams for our all-camp competitions.

So this morning we had our Army-Navy Track Meet. And it was a great one- it came down to a 25-point difference at the end—and with over 700 points at stake, that is a slim margin! We run, jump, put and throw- and here’s the thing. MOST of these guys have never competed in track events before. Many don’t even really know about them. So the amazing thing is when we see kids who have never run a 50-yard dash in their lives before run one and then WIN. And suddenly they have a whole perspective on what they can and can’t do. And maybe- just maybe this one win in this one event will change the shape of their lives forever. I know of more than a few Highlands men who learned to love the track and field thanks to their participation in our track meets here at camp. It’s a great event. It can make a hero out of anyone.

And here is another thing I love about the track meet- at the end of the day we all just love to watch a good race. The Senior Relay is the big event at the end. When our fastest, oldest 4 guys from each team run about a 400-meter lap each. It is SO exciting- with everyone cheering for their team and shouting for their guy, and hoping for your team to pull through in the end. And sometimes they do! But sometimes they don’t. And today, what I loved seeing was that at the end of the big race, with all of camp gathered around hooting and hollering and shouting their teams, when the winner crossed that finish line -he stopped. And waited. And the first hand he grabbed was the guy he just beat. Then all of the relay guys gathered around, from both teams, and shared a smile and a hug for a race well run- and suddenly we weren’t Army or Navy anymore. We were Highlands. They did this with no prompting from a counselor. They did it because that’s how we do it at Highlands. This is the art of friendly competition. And it was on proud display today. It was a great day at camp.

Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.

Andy B.

 

 

2 Responses

  1. Mike Moen says:
    June 29th, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Glad GAGA Ball is working out. If it works for all three grades at middle school recess it should work for any group. Keep up the good work.

    Moen

  2. Jackie Langas says:
    June 29th, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    This entry brought a big smile to my face~
    Thank you!

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Tracy Bachmann | July 8, 2013

Camp-sick alumni writing “home”

As you might expect, former campers and staff members contact us from time to time to share memories and ask if certain staff is still around. Below is some correspondence we received today. It just astounds me to know that after all these years, when summer time rolls around, Highlands alumni get a little camp-sick (official terminology). Below is an email we got this morning with Mike’s response and a photo to boot. [Can you believe they used to wear water belts to teach skiing!? Yikes! Parent’s, you’ll be happy to know those days are long past. Boys wear proper PFDs!] Remember, we are celebrating our 110th camping season this summer. We are having big alumni reunion the weekend of July 27, the day of the Steeplechase and the camp birthday. Remember, if you need a camp fix, the Highlands Lodge is a great place to stay and relive your memories, and even better is Friends and Family Camp!

From Scott Nelson, former camper

Hello Highlands! I wanted to pass on my very best wishes for a great summer to all my old friends at Camp. It’s July 5th and memories of track meets (Army Victories!) water carnivals, steeple chases are running thru my head. Who’s General? Has anyone come to lunch with a tie on? And walked off Tower 3!!
I will remember my wonderful memories of Camp (teaching Tim Bachmann how to ski behind the Red Highlander with a 40hp Johnson off Cub Midget Pier) Sawbill Trips, and Siedel trail pack dinners for days, and all the great guys and friends especially Artie Kuesel,  Jim “Otter” Ott Mike and Sharon on and on.

All my best
Scotty Nelson
Former Camper/Counselor/Cabin 9 14 & 5
Ski instructor
Tampa, Fl

Response from Mike Bachmann, director

Hi Scott!

Scotty Nelson teaches skiing circa 1970

Scotty Nelson teaching Jeff Bayliss to ski. Nelson was a CIT with Dave Baker as counselor.

How nice to hear from you.

For all the information you asked about and much more go to the web site. The gallery has lots of pictures – even some of Jim Ott!! He is Cub Head Counselor. In fact, Otter asks about YOU often. You had better give us a good update.

We are having a gathering time on the Camp Birthday this year. Butch will be up, and Jaimie Casas intends to come. It will be July 27. Steeplechase, Games on the Hill – you know the routine. Some things are not supposed to change. Of course we are way past 40 hp ski boats.

Dave Baker and Kent Taylor are running the trip room. Artie Kuesel has two sons on the staff. He stopped by yesterday. Ross Freeland is Senior Head Counselor – that is Jani’s son. She, Sharon, and Jill are all here this summer. Alec Winter is David’s son. He is an assistant counselor.

Facebook is also pretty busy with regular updates. Here is a photo of a ski instructor you may recognize.

Thanks for touching base.  Now come visit!!

Mike

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