Archive for the ‘summer 2013’ Category

Tracy Bachmann | August 5, 2013

The last of ’13

There's still plenty of time to get those last ACs in activities.

There’s still plenty of time to get those last ACs in activities.

We had a long discussion at lunch about how today was the last turkey dinner until Thanksgiving. Wait, WHAT? The last turkey dinner? That means tonight is the last Sunday Night Sing, and tomorrow is the last Monday (and so on). And while it’s true that we are verging on five days left of actual camp, Andy pointed out in Sunday Assembly (also the last) that we still have a quarter of second term left. Plenty of time for boys to accomplish new things in this summer of ’13.

In fact, in the past few days my kid accomplished two of his goals for the summer: to drop a ski and to climb to the top of the Clubhouse chimney (don’t mind this proud mama). But he’s been working on these things since June 23. Can you imagine? I watched that boy climb that chimney dozens of times this summer. Dozens. When was the last time you saw your kid try, fail and try again? And AGAIN? And again. (and so on). To me, more impressive than the actual accomplishment, was the effort. Perseverance. Grit. I’m lovin’ it. And trust me, it’s happened to your boys, too.

The past few days have been cool and beautiful. Of course we wish it was 78 and tanning weather, but I guess I ought to be celebrating I’m not at home in Gainesville, FL where it’s 97 every day. The boys have been amazing. In fact, you’d never know it was chilly. They’ve been running, playing and swimming every day.

This coming week starts to get a little crazy, so I’ll give you the run down on what’s going on, that way in case I can’t knock out as many blog posts as I’d like, you’ll still have a sense of what’s going on. Monday and Tuesday there will be several open activity periods so that boys can choose which activities they’d like to go to. That way if they’re really close to graduating tennis (or riflery or whatever), they’ll have the chance to get the last ACs (achievement credits) necessary. On Tuesday, we’ll have our last Division Day. Everyone will be in camp, and I’ve heard from reliable sources that the Juniors will be having some sort of Survivor Day. I’m hoping someone will tape it and make it into a movie for…..

Stunt Night. Which is on Wednesday evening. As many of you know, Stunt Night is the Highlands version of a talent show, however, history has proven that one needs not talent to perform in said show. It’s always a laugh. Thursday is the Kerchief Ceremony, a solemn, lovely ceremony. And then of course it’s Friday. The noon meal will bring with it the Honor Tripper awards, and starting at 3 p.m. is the Water Carnival and family picnic and banquet.

We love being able to share some of the camp spirit with you during this last day. In our eyes it brings a sense of closure to this remarkable experience your boys have had. They have grown so much, endured cooler temps and rainy weather. Blazing heat and pretty much the worst mosquitos I’ve seen in my 15 years up here in the North Woods. This night gives everyone the opportunity to process the summer. And when your son mopes around for a week or two as he readjusts to “the real world,” you’ll have a good idea of what it is that’s happened to him these four (or SEVEN) weeks. And of course, in my opinion, the best thing is hearing Mike read “Goodnight Little Cabin.” That coupled with the last Taps is magic.

Don’t worry, I’ve still got a post or two left in these fingers this summer. I’m still processing the INCREDIBLE Sunday Assembly this morning where we heard from long-time Highlands men express their love for Highlands. Let me just say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. But that’s another story.

And on that note…

I ❤ CH // tracy b.


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Tracy Bachmann | August 2, 2013

Somewhere over the rainbow

As many of you saw, we were graced with an incredible perfect double rainbow on Wednesday afternoon. To date, the photo we posted on Facebook has garnered the most likes and shares of anything we’ve ever posted. While it’s a great photo, I didn’t think it was THAT good. It kind of got me thinking. Why? Why was that picture such a hit?


The rainbow started in my front yard and moved to the Cub/Colt ski pier.

I have to tell you, what you don’t know about that photo is that when I walked into my living room with a feverish and sleepy toddler in my arms, it looked like that rainbow was IN MY HOUSE. Both Remy and I started hooting and hollering, and I dashed out into the rain shower without shoes. By the time I got to the end of the dock, I was literally standing in the end of the rainbow. While there were no leprechauns or pots of gold, I did feel like I might get sucked into Narnia or whisked off to Hogwarts. I flipped out. I absolutely sounded like that guy Hungrybear9562 on YouTube.

While I don’t know what standing in a rainbow’s end means, it’s does have me thinking about these things:

1. We are so plugged in it aches. Screens and images and the hum of the computer follows us everywhere we go. In this day and age, finding a quite spot to appreciate the abundance and beauty of this world in which we live is increasingly difficult. That we know over 110 boys and young men are running and playing and yelling and getting dirty in this wide, wide natural world – right this minute is reassuring. Even if we can’t sit on the lake shore as the perfect rainbow-making storm rolls by, our future fathers, husbands and leaders ARE.

2. Camp is a moment in time. Those rainbows came and went inside of ten minutes. Just like moments of refracted light slip quickly by, so to do these precious moments of summer and, indeed, these precious moments of boyhood. I am particularly sensitive to how fast this time goes by. We recently had a former camper and staffer visit Highlands who is now a crew chief flying around in helicopters for the US Marine Corps. I have photos of him as a 9 year old rolling around on the ground with our old dog. It seems like yesterday!

3. Rainbows are LUCK. They are filled with symbolism. And despite being a pretty unsentimental person, the fact that I danced in the end of the rainbow on Wednesday is soaked in meaning. We are SO lucky. Lucky to belong to this community. Lucky to be under the careful and loving wings of Mike and Sharon Bachmann who make this whole thing possible. Lucky to have happy and healthy boys. Lucky to have the support of families near and far, spanning the decades. But mostly lucky to be here now.

4. People loved that photo because it reminds them that there is something incredibly magical about Highlands. A summer at CH is not just learning to throw a perfect spiral football, or dropping a ski. It’s about building a special kind of inner strength. One all their own, without moms, dads or siblings to help or hinder. It’s about how they may leave Highlands, but Highlands will forever be in their hearts. That perfect double-rainbow is a metaphor for this experience. Gorgeous and fleeting.

5. With just a week left of summer 2013, I’m left feeling full. Full of excitement for what your boys will come home with; stories, jokes, tans, a certain calmness after a summer of running amok. I’m feeling full of purpose as an administrator and communicator. Full of refracted light and full of luck.

And on that note…
I ❤ CH // tracy b.


This was the best shot I got. Mainly because I was so excited I didn’t notice my finger was in EVERY other photo.


7 Responses

  1. Dana says:
    August 2nd, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Beautifully stated, Tracy! I like how the land is perfectly centered under the rainbow in the picture. Enjoy the last week! Thinking of you all!

    • mark says:
      August 2nd, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Your best blog of the summer!!!

    • August 4th, 2013 at 11:39 pm

      Thanks, Dana! We miss you!

  2. jorge ferrer says:
    August 3rd, 2013 at 12:39 am


    • August 4th, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      We love these children like our own! Thank you for entrusting them to us!

  3. Mike Moen says:
    August 4th, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Great picture. Better from your house than half way down the lake.

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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


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


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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