Archive for the ‘staff’ Category

Tracy Bachmann | March 9, 2016

Share the love: Let’s give Ross the gift of our memories

Ross in the stern of the war canoe about 2014.

Ross in the stern of the war canoe about 2014.

Dear Highlands Friends,

One of the most powerful Sunday Assemblies from the past decade was when Shaun Trenholm unpacked his trunk, but instead of bringing forth clothes or camping gear, he pulled out letters that he had written to the people who had most influenced him in his life. In that assembly, he encouraged each of us to write those letters to the people who have made a significant impact on our lives.

In this spirit, we invite you to send a verbal letter to our most worthwhile man, Ross. As you know, Ross is in a fierce battle with gastric cancer right now. He and Anna and Eli are doing everything they can to wage this fight. But it is an exhausting battle. And the difficulties weigh heavy on everyone’s hearts. In a recent visit I had with him, the best time we spent was when he and Anna and I could laugh about stories from this past summer and other great moments from our past. It was clear that the cherished memories bring a smile to his heart, and to Anna and to Ross, those smiles are golden.

So we invite you to participate in keepsake CD of cherished memories and stories with Ross. The instructions are simple.

Call in to the number listed below. Enter the 5 digit code. And, when prompted, share your name and then share your story. When you are done you can simply hang up, or listen and re-record your message if you are so inclined. It’s as simple as that. We will keep the recording lines open for one week, ending next Wednesday, March 16th. Then the CD’s will be sent to Ross and Anna by the end of next week.

We think he would love to hear your voice talking about a special time you shared together, a story about him that always makes you smile, or what you think makes Ross uniquely special. Remember when leaving your message that a meaningful story or shared memory will make the most impact. 

This is simply one more way we can boost Ross, Anna and Eli’s spirits and let them know how loved and cared for they are by people the world over. So, if you are so inclined, prepare your thoughts, remember the joy, and share your story with our most worthwhile man.

Thank you for your love and support.

Here is all you need to do: 

1) Call LifeOnRecord, 1-800-606-0697 by midnight Pacific Time on March 16.

2) When prompted, enter your Invitation Number: 16075

3) Record your message after the tone. Remember to say your name. When finished you can either hang up or press the # key. If you press the # key you’ll be given options to listen to your recording, accept your recording, or re-record it.

Feel free to forward this onto other people that know Ross so that they can contribute to the keepsake as well. Callers outside of the US and Canada can reference this link for dialing instructions: ‪

Thank you for helping to make this a wonderful gift for Ross, Anna and Eli.

One Response

  1. Laura Gilkey says:
    March 9th, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    This is so wonderful. Thank you for the opportunity. Banyan and I have been struggling to find a way to show him how much we are thinking of him. This is so perfect and so genuine.

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Tracy Bachmann | November 15, 2015

What makes a Worthwhile Man?

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Andy took a very long walk!

I am fresh back from a 500 mile walk across Spain, where I followed in the footsteps of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who, for the last 1600 years or so have been making the journey to Santiago de Compostella, the purported final resting place of St. James the Apostle. It’s a journey I’ve wanted to make since I was 15 years old, and, thanks to the good graces of my wife and family, was able to do it.

Obviously a 500 mile walk will give one plenty of time to think on things. And one of the things I thought on was, “What makes a man worthwhile?” It’s a term we use a lot at Camp Highlands – due to it’s central place in the philosophy of the Highlands Way. And it’s a good question for each of us to consider (as is, for that matter, what makes a person, man or woman, worthwhile?), and one that provides terrific insight into our own expectations of character and quality.

Now – spoiler alert – I am not going to divulge to you the characteristics that I feel MOST exemplify a worthwhile man. But I will gladly share with you that each summer (and this past summer in particular) I can proudly say that I saw outstanding qualities of worthwhile men played out every single day by our exceptional staff. Whether it was in the kind way they offered encouragement to a boy trying to water-ski for the first time, or the gentle way they steered some rambunctious campers towards more peaceable solutions to who gets to play teatherball next. Our staff is the secret to our success at Highlands – and I am always so proud to say that we have an almost 100% return rate for our staff. That means consistency in character, in values, in heritage and in fun. The men and women who make up our staff are the ones who define what a worthwhile man or woman is. And they are the examples your sons look to to help steer them right.

It is time for me to start hiring our staff for next year – and while I know we will have an extremely high percentage of returnees, we are always open to the next outstanding young man (or woman) who will help us round out another excellent season at Camp Highlands. Do you know a great young man (or woman) who would be an outstanding addition to our Highlands family? Then please, send them my way! And, if you haven’t yet done so, don’t forget to sign your boys up for our upcoming season. Because I can guarantee that they will be cared for and counseled by outstanding men and women who exemplify the Worthwhile way. So what are you waiting for? Join us for our 2016 season!

Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.


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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.

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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Tracy Bachmann | June 30, 2015

Take a trip


From sailing to hiking to kayak or canoeing trips. Highlands trips teach boys self-confidence, appreciation of the natural world and life skills they will take with them through all the days of their lives.

“We put out more trips this week than [other camp that shall remain nameless] does all summer.” –Craig Ericksen, Program Director.

Editor’s note: This was said not as a slight on another camp. Craig was just stating a fact!

Sometimes I stand back and watch in awe as our Program Director, Craig Ericksen works his magic. It’s no easy feat making camp run as smoothly as it does. Craig keeps track of who is on their day off, who is teaching what activity, who is cleaning the bathrooms, who lifeguards at 4:30 swim, who is working in the kitchen, who is driving out what trips, who is ON trips and where our campers will be scheduled for their activities (keeping their activity requests as a high priority). It takes a special brain to manipulate all that data.

So in a week like this one, where we have six senior campers and three staff canoeing the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, eight campers and four staff hiking Isle Royale (from one of the island to the other), seven campers and two staff hiking from one end of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to the other, one junior cabin canoeing our local lakes, another hiking the Porcupine Mountains AND four campers and two staff sailing through the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, I marvel at his wizardry. Did I mention that HE is one of the staff members sailing on Lake Superior? Oh, and tomorrow we’ll send out four more trips!

Meanwhile we have those of us in camp fully assigned and cared for, scheduled and covered for a regular day in the life at camp.

Why do we inflict this kind of pressure on ourselves? Because we’re Highlands, of course.

Our cabins are about as rustic as you can get. We have no screens on our windows, no electricity, and the closest running water is about 20 yards away. Yet these four wooden walls become our second home away from home – and when we hit the trails and the lakes we appreciate even more how little we truly need to be content and cared for. Suddenly our rustic cabins seem like the Ritz!

Our tripping program has been part of our fabric since our inception. We believe it is important for our campers to experience the joy and wonder of nature; and learn the skills required to care for themselves and the wilderness around us. That is why we inflict the high level of scheduling madness upon ourselves that we do. Because we believe that the men of Highlands are better men for the wilderness experiences we offer. We believe that the challenges one faces out on the trail are character-shaping opportunities that help prove to ourselves that if we set our minds to something, we can accomplish it. It also happens to be a ton of fun.

Thank you, Craig Ericksen, for your ability to help us deliver the Worthwhile experiences we do.

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Tracy Bachmann | July 25, 2013

Dear Highlands Staff


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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