We are family owned and operated and have been for more than 50 years. This consistency in leadership is special in the camping world. We can't help it, it's just in our blood.
- Job at Camp: Director. I oversee the day-to-day operations of camp; starting before breakfast and ending after taps. Whether it is encouraging campers to give it another go at a challenging activity, or praising a counselor-in-training for a job well done, I get to do it all. I've been known to pull skiers on sunny days and play "Knock Out" on the basketball court. I got to play carpenter when we built a new cabin in Senior Row. I work to maintain the Highlands spirit in everything that we do. And I am often the first line of communication to the parents about how their sons are doing at Camp. I love it all!
- First summer at Camp: I've been coming to camp since I was 4 months old, so my first memories are a bit foggy. I think I literally have a great memory from just about every square foot of camp. I remember my counselor waking me up when I was 8 years old to bring me out to the Row to see the Northern Lights. I remember the first time I got up on water-skis. I remember dropping my tray when I was the waiter in the dining hall, and how nobody made fun of me and everyone swooped in to help clean it up. I remember how my counselor who had just returned from the Peace Corps in Costa Rica used to speak Spanish in his sleep! I remember how proud I was to complete every trip I've ever been on. I remember my counselor reading us the book, "The Cay" at night. I have WAY too many memories to share in this little space!
- Best thing about Camp: I love watching our campers try something new. I love hearing our staff encourage and support them as they try it. I love hearing the frustration ALMOST take over, and then the huge celebration as the goal is accomplished, the deed is done and the victory is achieved. There is nothing better than watching breakthroughs happen. It is a momentous occasion, not just for the campers, but for the staff men and women who help usher them through as well. And that happens all the time at camp. It's contagious, and inspiring.
- Favorite meal at Camp: For breakfast, I love muffin and sausage morning. For the noon meal, I love the chicken tenders with the wild rice and brocolli. And for supper, taco night is hard to beat. But to be honest, I can't think of a single meal that I don't get excited for at Camp. Chef Lois is amazing.
- Favorite Sunday Night Sing song: It's hard to beat the Highlands Hymn. "Here we gain strength to meet each future hour, with courage, joy, and love through thy great power." With words written by Mable Monilaw back in the 1930's, the yellowed slides and the lantern slide projector make Sing a timeless event; and the connection with our history gives me pause every time we sing that song. Set to the tune of "Finlandia," it is a beautiful song to sing. And we sing it at the end of every Sunday night Sing. I have to say that "Camp Highlands, We're True to You" never ceases to get my heart rate pumping and spirits raised. That's always the first song we sing! So I love the "bookends." Although...I love all the songs we do in-between, too!
- Not everyone knows... I am also the videographer at Camp. I love to shoot and edit video, and camp allows me the opportunity to pursue that hobby. And it gives me inspiration to get out of the Office!
- Job at Camp: Director. I've had many jobs through the years. Starting with Lodge girl, office worker, helper to Mike with camp business during the school year. Today, I purchase all the food, plan the meals, talk and plan daily with the cooks at Boys Camp and the Lodge. I coordinate Lodge reservations and run the Lodge during the summer with the help of my sisters, Jani and Jill. I do the mailings for the Lodge and Friends and Family Camp during the school year.
- First summer at Camp: In 1943, my dad Orville Nothdurft was hired to be a counselor of the youngest boys and to teach tennis. That year, my mom and I stayed in the Lodge area of camp. When my sisters were born they also grew up in the Lodge. Girls or women were not allowed in Boys camp in those early days. It was not until Mike and I took over the leadership of camp in the 60's that women were allowed past the Infirmary.
- Best thing about Camp: Seeing young boys and staff members having so much fun while learning or teaching the many activities we have available at camp. I love watching our campers come as young 8 and 9 year olds, and grow each year into what we call Worthwhile Highlands men. I remember many staff members as little boys! With our hand-picked staff our lucky campers are surrounded by people that care greatly about them and help them to become the best they can be.
- Favorite meal at Camp: So many, my head is always full of menu ideas that the people gathered at Camp Highlands will love. Lois, Jill and I, and our other cooks have for years tried to find recipes that will taste great to everyone. I don't purchase pre-made items, we make our own dishes and desserts. Years ago I purchased much of our bread, but today the frozen bread items you bake yourself are wonderful – big hit with everyone. The good smells that come from the Highlands kitchens make everyone hungry for what's being served.
- Favorite Sunday Night Sing song: I love all of our camp songs. What could be more fun than having so many boys, men and guests having such a ball singing and jumping around? But if I had to pick one, I really love “Now the day is Over.” It used to be the last song sung at Sing. All the men and boys would stand to sing. Because of the men and adult women the harmony would be so beautiful. Those old sunset lantern slides followed while Taps was being blown.
- Not everyone knows... As a girl, I always wished that I were a boy so I could do all those great things that the boys were getting to do.
- Job at Camp: Communications Director. I keep parents connected by updating the website and social media. I also spend lots of time on the phone with parents, fielding questions and checking up on how kids are doing. Mike and I team up in the winter months to handle enrollment and all that winter-time mail you get!
- First summer at Camp: 1997, I came to visit Andy on a road trip when I was in college. 1998, I was the babysitter for Family Camp. 1999, Andy and I were married in the Clubhouse. The rest is history!
- Best thing about Camp: The change of pace. We work extra hard at Camp (24 hours a day, really!), but I walk to my office, notice when the wind changes direction on the lake and spend an inordinate amount of time on a wooden swing overlooking Plum. I love being unplugged from the real world and seeing how much my kids grow and change after a summer of lake swimming, berry foraging, dirt digging and running to each destination! There is nothing like a summer outside!
- Favorite meal at Camp: Turkey Tetrezzine from scratch. Made with Sunday dinner turkey leftovers. YUM.
- Favorite Sunday Night Sing song: Fast: “Make New Friends” (Highlands style), this includes a wild “settle in your chair and stay there” and the word “foodle.” It’s kind of one of those weird camp-things that’s hard to describe! Slow: “Highlands Hymn” and then “Taps.” It puts tears in my eye each time I hear it.
- Not everyone knows... When I have a hard time falling to sleep, I imagine the drive from the Corner Store to my driveway at Highlands.
- Job at Camp: Program Director. I assign each boy to their day's activities, whether it's playing soccer in camp or coordinating their trip to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota!
- First summer at Camp: My first summer at camp was 1972. During the summer of 1972 I first met some of the people who would be among the most important in my life such as Shaun Trenholm, Kent Overbey, Dave and Helen Baker, Mike and Sharon Bachmann.
- Best thing about Camp: The best thing about camp is the amazing variety of people, of all ages, that I have the opportunity to spend time with and the fantastic, supportive environment where each person is appreciated for what they are. I love the natural environment. Camp has a wonderful feel especially in the evening when campers begin to return to their cabins and everyone has the chance to quietly interact with their cabin mates.
- Favorite meal at Camp: Every meal is the best!
- Favorite Sunday Night Sing song: My favorite song at camp is the best song at camp – "Anchors Aweigh"!
- Not everyone knows... During the past 28 years I have only missed one camp season. During that summer my family and I retraced the route of Lewis and Clark.
Health & Safety
We are serious about your son's health and safety at Camp Highlands. We have a full-time registered nurse on-site. Also living at Camp, is our caretaker Kevin Rasmussen, who also happens to be the fire chief of Sayner, as well as an EMT!
There is a unique sense of family at Highlands. Our intergenerational staff – men and women from their 20s to their 80s – help to maintain special traditions, stories and values. Almost everyone on the Highlands staff has attended Camp as a camper. (We like to say we “grow our own.”) This consistency in leadership allows us to focus on what’s most important – your son. Counselors’ varied backgrounds contribute to the well-rounded environment of Highlands. With so many different points-of-view and personalities on our staff, your son will learn new ways to approach problems and communicate with others. Our counselors are taken through a week of special training where they learn the most effective ways to teach an activity, team building skills and how to redirect behavior. They are given the tools necessary to nurture and encourage a cabin full of boys.