Archive for the ‘summer 2014’ Category

Tracy Bachmann | August 6, 2014

13 Stunts, 100 Kerchiefs and one Banquet

The packages and letter has tapered off and that can only mean one thing. Summer is nearly over. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get my kids back. I’m lucky. I get to see Judah on occasion, but our middle child is in her fourth week at girls’ camp and I’m about to burst. It feels a little like the night before Christmas when I was eight, only it’s been going on since Sunday. I can barely stand it! Three more days and our band will be back together. I know you guys are excited to get your kiddos back, too. While these last few days of camp have been the warmest and best of the summer, I know campers are ready to be back with their families.

But the fun isn’t over yet! Our Highlands boys enjoyed an archery competition with Red Pine Camp this afternoon while the rest of the campers enjoyed one of the last days of activities. Tonight is our 2014 second term Stunt Show. We’d call it a talent show, but that would be false advertising. Somehow even I got roped into a skit. Tomorrow we’ll have a football tournament, a tennis tournament and a baseball game and more. We are going to squeeze every last minute of FUN out of this summer!

These last few days are filled with activities and tradition. Thursday evening the boys will receive recognition for their efforts at camp as their name and ACs earned are read off. Boys will add their twig to the Friendship of Fire symbolizing a connection of all Highlands men that went before. It’s a special night, and in my opinion, it’s the most magical night of the summer.

Friday is the last day of camp fun. For you moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and friends, you’ll need to know that activities will start at 3 p.m after rest hour is over, followed by a picnic supper and the final awards and ceremony. We call it a wrap when taps blows for the very last time this summer around 8:45 p.m.

And on that note…

I ❤ CH // tracy b.

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Tracy Bachmann | August 3, 2014

Strength in Failure

It’s official. We’re in our last week here at Camp. It’s a series of “lasts” now. The last turkey supper (my waistline will be happy about that), the last Sunday Night Sing, the last Sunday Assembly.

Andy and Ross went out with a bang today during Assembly. Our discussion was about vulnerability and failure. Wait, what? Aren’t we here to make your boys into strong young men? Failure?


Boys shared their greatest achievement at camp and what else they'd like to accomplish this summer.

Boys shared their greatest achievement at camp and what else they’d like to accomplish this summer.

We talked about how through failure and perseverance comes experience and ultimately success. It teaches us GRIT. Falling down on skis over and over again can be frustrating. Judah B. shared how he’s been going for his “drop a ski” Achievement Credit (AC) for two years. He did it last week, and this week he easily got his “deep-water slalom AC.” Success­–after a lot of falling down. Charlie Z. shared his experiences in baseball this summer working on a particularly difficult AC. Ross would hit the highest fly ball possible and Charlie had to catch it. It took him try after try to do it. Lots of failure there. But guess what? He did it.

So often we think that if we fall down we’ve failed. In our culture of Facebook bragging and Instagram showoffing we don’t want to admit when things don’t go quite right. But your boys heard it loud and clear today. Fail! Do it often! Get back up! Try again! Andy even made us chant it: “Don’t give up, don’t give up. You can do it. Try again.” (I’m paraphrasing, but it was something along those lines!)

Your guys are out running around today, making the most of their last few days at Highlands. Tomorrow will be the last regular day of camp. Tuesday is Division Day, Wednesday will bring us the stunt show, Thursday the Kerchief Ceremony and Friday… well, you know, Friday’s the end. Saturday morning by 9 a.m. camp will quiet.

We get let down easy, though! We don’t have to go right back to it, thankfully, as Friends and Family Camp starts on Saturday evening!

And on that note…

I ❤ CH // tracy b.

Things you’ll need to know for these coming days:

Friday’s festivities: Please arrive at 3 p.m. for some end of term fun. The picnic supper is on Junior Hill at 6 p.m. followed by the banquet ceremonies in the dining room and wrapping up about 8:30.

If your child is traveling by car you may take him home that night, or you may pick him up in the morning at 9 a.m.

If your child is traveling by bus, he’ll be on his way by 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. The bus will arrive in Madison at the Pinecone Shell at 1 p.m. The bus reaches Rockford at 2:15 p.m. and then depending on traffic is scheduled to arrive at O’Hare

Airport about 3:30 p.m. Once boys are dropped off at the airport the bus travels over to the O’Hare Oasis and should arrive between 3:45 and 4:00 p.m.

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Tracy Bachmann | July 30, 2014

Smallest to tallest

Today I ventured into no-woman’s land. That’s to say, I ate lunch in boy’s camp. [Side note, did you know that women were not allowed past the infirmary until 1966? That’s a whole other blog post!] And OH, how much fun did I have?!

First of all, lunch was incredible. Pork loin cooked to perfection (thank you Lois), mashed potatoes, apple sauce, broccoli, bread and pumpkin cake for desert. I *tried* to avoid the cake, but Lordy, it was just too good.

The bugle calls the waiters to lunch ten minutes early. They line up in the kitchen, trays of food in hand, and once the rest of camp is in the dining room, the waiters process in.

Smallest to tallest.

Boys line up in order from smallest to tallest!

Waiters line up in order from youngest cabin to the oldest cabin.

And I have to tell you guys, I got choked up. I watched the smallest boy, a young man that I don’t know much at all, walk past me – carefully, wobbly, balancing the tray of food for his cabin. Next, the Colt division, slightly more confident. Then the Labrador puppies of camp, the Juniors (their bodies haven’t quite caught up to their feet, you know?!) sort of gallop past. And finally our oldest waiter. Senior, Davis Altorfer, *fourth generation* Highlands man and a boy I’ve known since he was *this big*, strolled through the door, confidently wielding his tray, looking around, laughing. It was like I saw the face of *my* son pass quickly by, through the ages to ultimately end up six feet tall, with a goofy bandana around his head (but totally rocking it, you know?!). You don’t know when these moments are going to sneak up on you, but man-oh-man. It got me today.

All weepiness aside, there are incredible moments in that dining room, hidden away from us lady-folk, specially reserved for campers and staff men. Moments like when Kent Taylor was recognized by Kent Overbey for climbing the stone fireplace blindfolded and then teaching a class to graduate Adventure/Ropes. Like when the boys that got stuck in the kitchen just before announcements reappeared from the kitchen and everyone clapped for them! (So funny!) Like when Andy blessed the mysterious aroma of the garlic bread (what?!). We all know that breaking bread with people is sacred, but I’d offer that at Camp, these meals are extra special.

The boys haven’t realized it yet, but they’re changed beings after this third week. As we ease into the last week, it’ll sneak up on them. And they’ll be processing the changes that have taken place this summer all year long. Camp just gets under your skin that way.

This summer. This life! It MOVES, folks. Here we are ten days out from the end of our 111th summer. I don’t want it to stop! We have so much further to hike! So many more balls to throw. So many more times to jump into Plum. But it’s looming out there.

For now, I’ll sit lakeside, talk to my future Senior campers in the boating bay and discover the mystery of garlic bread. I’m not ready to pack up yet!

And on that note…

I ❤ CH // tracy b.

6 Responses

  1. Carol Viliani Bachmann says:
    July 30th, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    Tracy, thank you once again for your down to earth, comedic and inspirational mom thoughts. I so look forward to it them:)))

  2. Becky says:
    July 30th, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Crying over here…

  3. Scott Altorfer says:
    July 30th, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Beautifully written, Tracy! I can sooo picture Davis from your description.

  4. Kevin Robertson says:
    July 31st, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Ok Tracy, I just craughed (cried/laughed?) for the first time. Didn’t know those two emotional responses could be elicited from a blog. If only there were cyber tissues.
    And now I’m hungry.

    Thank you. Really.

  5. Kristin says:
    July 31st, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Tracy—You got me!! Wasn’t expecting the tears……the beauty of camp….

  6. Jose Cubillos says:
    July 31st, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Thanks so much for your posts. Laura and I read them religiously as they always bring smiles to our faces just thinking about our boy and how many awesome experiences he is having. We can’t wait to get to Camp next week and see everybody. Thanks again for the wonderful writing. Jose.

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Andy Bachmann | July 29, 2014

Tales from Tower Three

Anyone who has been to camp knows of our famous towers. Our lake neighbors love to come down and gawk as the boys perform feats of courage and craziness as they leap into the air, 18 feet above the water.

From down on the dock, the towers are really not that daunting. But once you climb them, and stand on that third platform in particular, it can seem like you’re 500 feet off the surface. And it can be intimidating. I still get nervous when I stand up there.

So the other day when I saw a camper from way down in Cabin 25 take his first step off Tower Three I knew I got to witness one of the greatest moments of the summer.

There are lots of “firsts” at Camp. First time you paddle a kayak, first time you get up on water skis – heck! – first time you are away from your parents home for more that a night! And we love to celebrate those “firsts.” We celebrate them because we know how special they are. We know how important they are in helping to shape these young men lives into our Worthwhile Man line that says, “Give me the courage of the man who knows that if he will, he can.”

Give me the courage of the man who knows that if he will, he can.

“Give me the courage of the man who knows that if he will, he can.” The little guy who *jumped* pictured above.

That little guy from Cabin 25 stood on Tower Three for 45 minutes. Then the bugle blew, calling the waiters to come get supper ready. But the lifeguards didn’t budge. And neither did his cousins (all 4 of them). Everybody stood by, eyes to the sky, waiting.

He’d walk to the edge, then skitter back. He’d try to take a running start, only to stop short. He stood there for an eternity. Finally his cousins climbed up, and jumped off, to show him how easy it can be. One of our lifeguards went up and jumped off, showing him how he could do it. But still, he waited…

Finally, first call blew, calling all of us to supper. And suddenly he did it – he took off of that tower and even before he hit the water the roar of the crowd erupted. It was awesome. He emerged from the water triumphant – beaming with pride and accomplishment.

All of our sons are experiencing plenty of soul-stretching, discomforting moments of first-ness all the time. And when they do something new the smiles that shine forth from their faces are those of young men who know that they are living into a new reality; a world where they are beginning to get the sense that if they set their mind to something, then chances are good that they can accomplish it. Whether it’s jumping off Tower Three for the first time, or simply being away from mom and dad for four weeks. It is a special thing to witness those breakthrough moments. And it is a moment that I don’t think any of us will soon forget.

Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.

Andy B.

4 Responses

  1. Kevin Robertson says:
    July 30th, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Good morning Andy,
    What a beautiful, moving, tear-inducing post. Your words make me want to jump off something. Perhaps I’ll start with this sofa and move on fiercely to leaving the comfy confines of my executive chair.
    What you and your staff, as well as Tracy and her poetic blogs, do for these boys, and for us tearfully appreciative families back home, is beyond worthwhile. We’re all better off for CH.
    Thank you so much for making this happen. For making my boys into solid, tower jumping little men.
    Now push Ty and Noah off that darn thing.

  2. Donnie Adams says:
    July 30th, 2014 at 8:10 am

    I will never forget the cheer when I finally made it off of there; truly one of the most affirming moments of my life. I’m not sure I even realized the impact of those moments on my life, but I don’t think anyone could put it better Andy – it is because of these moments, surrounded by such support and encouragement, that I continue to push myself into an unknown, knowing I’ll be ok.

    Thanks CH

  3. Jim Loomis says:
    July 30th, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    I was also one of the campers that stood on tower three for a long time before I got enough courage to jump off. That was my first year at camp, as a Junior. After that first jump you couldn’t keep me off of it. Soon I was diving off of it. I was even afraid to go water skiing. Again once I got the courage I never stopped skiing. I even was a ski instructor once in a while when I was a counselor. Camp is the best place in the world to try and excel at new activities.

  4. Hayden Bingham says:
    August 7th, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I realize that this is for parents, but I’m going to come back as a CIT next year so… (close enough?)
    Anyway, I will say that the Towers (specifically T. III) are some decent practice for (supervised!) cliff jumping on some of the trips (Chapel Beach Cliffs on Pictured Rocks Nat. Lakeshore, and the Pictograph Cliffs on the Basswood River in BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness))
    “Hands on life-vest, Elbows against sides, Push away from cliff-face, Legs straight, Feet pointed, Enjoy the ride.”
    Although, the towers at camp are somewhat less rudimentary than a rock precipice jutting out from a 65 ft cliff (BWCAW).

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Tracy Bachmann | July 27, 2014

Highlands Time

Whew!! What a weekend! Have you had a chance to look through the gallery? Yesterday was a gorgeous day. Hot and sunny. It may have been the best day all summer! The Steeplechase, Senior Carnival and Games on the Hill were EPIC. Call me crazy, but it’s a day like yesterday that really makes camp feel like a big family. We are bonded after participating in decades-old traditions. One hundred and eleven. Now that’s a birthday, you guys. We did our very best to celebrate in style!

The biggest Seniors start off the race with a bang.

The biggest Seniors start off the race with a bang.

Today it seems like someone must have known that we were tired and gave us a cool, quiet and intermittently rainy day. The kind of day that makes turkey dinner taste especially good!

During Sunday Assembly, we got to take a look at some old medium-format photos of camp from *way* back in the day. Andy walked us through a little history of the first few summers at camp, when the boys simply felled trees and cleared the space for what is now Junior Hill (not sure what that activity would have been named. Lumberjacking?). You might find the history of camp interesting, too, and if you haven’t already, take a look at the Highlands Archives for all sorts of fascinating stories about former campers and staff members.

After our brief history lesson Shaun Trenholm offered a reflection on the art of saying “thank you” in a letter. Shaun’s words remind me how lucky we are to know each other here at Camp and how each one of us has something unique and important to offer to the group. Shaun’s legacy at Highlands is legendary. He started Highlands as a camper in 1968 and then started coming back as a counselor in 1984. I’ve not met many people that illustrate the Highlands Honor Camper Qualities so well. THANK YOU Shaun for all that you do for Highlands!

After the noon meal, we enjoyed an extended rest hour. Then boys enjoyed open activities this afternoon. The best thing about Sunday, though, is Sing. The fun just keeps on coming!

We are looking forward to the week ahead. Week three of four, my favorite week at camp. The boys know each other now, and real friendships have developed. Many guys have been on their trip. They have attended all the activities and had the opportunity to experience trial and failure and then…success! I am incredibly happy that *my* kid has the time and space to work on dropping a ski. He’s been at it for two whole summers, and he got very close on Friday. He’ll get assigned to skiing this week, and he’ll turn up at free-time and I bet he is slaloming by this Friday. That’s the true gift of four weeks at Camp. Time and space to figure out what you are good at, and what you would like to improve upon.

These boys amaze me. From the Cub that’s learning to repel in Adventure, to the Senior that’s hiking 100 miles across Isle Royale – I’m inspired by them. I’m inspired by our counselors that have the patience to teach and coach them. I’m inspired by the opportunities for leadership our older campers have.

Your boys will have four (or maybe seven) weeks to play, grow, learn, stretch and lead. And Camp has had 111 years to play, grow, learn, stretch and lead.

How lucky we are.

And on that note…

I ❤ CH // tracy b.

One Response

  1. Enrique Azcarraga says:
    July 27th, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Its been around 40 years since I was a Highlands camper. The experiences I had and what I learned then, will allways be a part of whom I am today.
    111 years is a lot, but there are surely more to come.

    Enrique Azcarraga
    70’s camper

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