Posts by Tracy Bachmann

2021 Protocols: Your Questions Answered

May 14, 2021

  1. Planning, preparation, and perseverance

    We are so excited to have boys back on the ball fields and in the cabins on Plum Lake. As you know, we have been working very hard this spring to understand evolving COVID-19 protocols so that we can have a safe and fun summer. Our policies and procedures have been devised using the most up-to-date information from the CDC, the American Camp Association, local health officials, and our own trusted infectious disease consultants.

    All pertinent links are listed at the bottom of this page.

    Here are the answers to the most asked questions about our 2021 Summer protocols:

    14-Days of Pre-Camp Quarantining

    We’re asking that campers and their families use common sense and consideration in the 14 days before camp. Please maintain COVID-19 best practices: wear your mask, wash your hands, maintain physical distancing, and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Please refrain from eating inside restaurants, attending large inside gatherings, etc. during this period.

    Seven Days of Pre-Camp Symptom Monitoring

    In the week leading up to camp, please track the symptoms of your camper in our simple health log. Your camper will return this form completed and signed on opening day.

    Pre-Camp Molecular PCR Test Sampled 3-4 days Before Sunday Arrival

    Because there is still a small chance that vaccinated people can have COVID-19, all campers must arrive with a recent (48-72 hrs) negative PCR COVID-19 test result, whether your child is vaccinated or not. You may arrange this test with your pediatrician, by using a mail-in service like VAULT or at Walgreens or CVS. Once you have taken your PCR test, we ask that you strictly quarantine (a.k.a. shelter in place) in the days before camp. Please upload your test results here. A rapid antigen test is not acceptable. This extra step helps us ensure that your child’s camp experience is uninterrupted. Thank you for your cooperation.

    Testing Positive or Recovered from COVID-19

    If your camper has recovered from COVID-19 (tested positive in the past), we must know this. Please email us directly with details of your child’s test and recovery.

    Is Vaccination a Requirement?

    We strongly encourage campers 12-years old and older to get that shot (well, two shots, technically)! The more vaccinated people we have in camp, the less likely we are to have COVID-19 entering and/or spreading around camp. To have your child fully vaccinated by First Term (June 20), including the two-week post-second shot waiting period, they will need to have their first shot no later than May 16. Second-term campers should have their first shot no later than May 30.

    We are still requiring a PCR test within 72 hours before the start of camp. However, vaccinated boys will not be surveillance-tested during camp.

    Please complete the 7-day symptom monitoring log and quarantine during the days leading up to camp to be turned in when your camper checks in on Opening Day.

    We require a photocopy or photo of your child’s vaccination record. Upon completion of the second shot, please upload it here.

    Testing at Camp

    We will be testing non-vaccinated children on day-3 and day-8 of camp using a saliva PCR test. The cost of this test is $30/test and will be added to your child’s store account.

    Masking at Camp

    Campers will not need to mask when they are with their cohort. They will not wear a mask in the swim areas or while participating in water activities. We are adhering to the 2-out-of-3 rule. Meaning, boys must satisfy two of the following three safety requirements: Outside, Distanced, Masked.
    Outdoors + No Distance for extended periods (15 min+) = Mask Needed
    Not Outdoors + Distanced = Mask Needed
    Outdoors + Distanced = No Mask

    Boys will likely go long periods of time when they do not need to wear a mask.

    How Many Masks Should I Pack for my Camper?

    Please pack your child with 5-7 clearly labeled 100% cotton masks. Old Navy makes an inexpensive, high-quality mask and they come in packs of five.

    What if My Camper Feels Sick at Camp?

    Our medical staff will be monitoring for common COVID-19 symptoms. If we decide your camper’s symptoms require a COVID-19 test, camp will notify you. If your camper’s COVID-19 test is positive, we will ask that you pick your child up as soon as possible, as they will be isolated away from other campers. We have a special location for sick campers to be cared for and monitored by our staff.

    Vaccinated children will NOT have to quarantine in the event they have been exposed to COVID-19.

    Will the Program Look Different this Summer?

    We expect our program to remain largely unchanged because of increased vaccinations, safety precautions, and testing protocols. Our tripping program will be slightly different, with most trips coming directly in and out of camp like way back in 1904! We will not take trips into town for Division Day. Sunday Assembly and Sing will be outside. We will start camp eating in shifts in the dining hall with announcements between shifts. We have built several hand washing stations that will not only help us keep COVID-10 out of camp but pink eye and summer colds, too! Beyond that, camp will mostly operate as it always has.

    Who Will be Vaccinated at Camp?

    Our entire staff will be vaccinated as well as most 16+ children. We have high hopes that many 12+ children will also be vaccinated before camp. While a certain percentage of camp will be vaccinated, we do not plan to alter our health and safety measures. However, we remain flexible. We have all experienced how quickly recommendations shift, and we will continue to monitor all State, CDC, and American Camp Association recommendations closely.

    What is Our Refund Policy?

    Typically, we do not offer a refund for early departures or late arrivals. However, due to the unusual nature of this summer, if your child must leave camp due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, we will refund a prorated amount based on the days he is unable to attend camp.

    Now More Than Ever.

    Time outside with our friends is now more important than ever. We take the responsibility of caring for your child and the whole of the camp family very seriously. We are grateful for the opportunity to be with your amazing boys this summer. If you have any questions, please call us!

    Important Links

    Vaccination Record Upload Health Log Record PCR Test Upload


  2. Bringing back the Rangers in ’21

    2020 was a weird year. Our young people bore much of the burden of a closed-down world with missed opportunities and rites of passage. At Highlands, our oldest boys missed their opportunity to be the big men on campus: to sub for counselors on their day off or to take the youngest camper for their first sail on Plum Lake. One of the biggest losses, though, was their opportunity to take that last big trip as a camper—what many alumni have called a life-changing experience.

    In an effort to ease this loss, we have BIG NEWS. After many months of planning, we are proud to introduce The Rangers — Highlands Wilderness and Leadership Experience.

    What is the Ranger Program?

    To bridge the gap for boys who missed their last year as a Senior—a critical capstone to their Highlands experience—we’ve rekindled the “Ranger Program” run at Camp Highlands for 14 years from 1963–1977.

    The Ranger Program is a full-immersion experience into the Highlands Wilderness and Leadership Program for young men ages 16 and older. Since our inception, our goal as a camp has been to provide “real wilderness experiences” that help us become more Worthwhile Men. Rangers will participate in multiple wilderness experiences, both hiking and paddling, in and around the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Additionally, each Ranger will become fully certified in Red Cross lifeguarding or Wilderness First Aid and participate in the Highlands pre-camp leadership experience.

    Boys who participate in the Ranger Program will be the first in what we hope to be many years to come and will have their name placed on a special Rangers plaque.

    We hope that boys will then go on to be CITs for the second half of the summer, drawing a salary and beginning their life on the Highlands staff!

    Who is eligible to participate?

    Boys who would have been last-year Seniors in 2020. They should have finished their 11th-grade year of high school in 2021.

    Space is limited to 8-10 participants. Applications are due to Camp Highlands on March 28.


    $3,600, includes all Red Cross certifications and transportation, a special quick-dry Rangers t-shirt. Parents must also purchase trip insurance for approximately $180.

    Leadership: Two terrific Highlands men, Brian Boos and David Kuesel will be leading this year’s trip. David K. is a second-generation Highlands man, a trained EMS, and has worked with kids in a school setting and at camp for a decade. Brian Boos is a teacher, coach, dad of three kids, and the son-in-law of Kent Overbey, Sr., our last leader of the Ranger program from 1969-1977 (need we say more?). Finally, Program Director, Craig Ericksen (a former Highlands Ranger himself), has been helping us plan the trip and is working on finalizing our permits.

    The Itinerary*

    • June 10: Rangers arrive at Camp Highlands to become Wilderness First Aid or Lifeguard certified. Rangers will participate in pre-camp preparation for the summer of 2021, including leadership training, landscaping, painting, etc.
    • June 21-24:  Travel to Escanaba, MI on the Little Bay de Doc and do three days in kayaks exploring sea caves through the Penninsula Kayak Company
    • June 25-29: Travel to Munising and hike Pictured Rocks
    • June 29: Travel to Hancock Portage Canal in Houghton and fly via Sea Plane(!) to Isle Royale.
    • June 30-July 4: Hike portions of Isle Royale
    • July 4-6: Canoe the fast waters of Boise Brûlé River

    *based on permit availability and capacity, our itinerary may change slightly.

    How to Sign Up

    Log into your CampMinder account to apply today.

  3. Built to Last

    We hope this message finds you well in body and spirit at the beginning of this holiday season. We are writing today because we have exciting news to share with you. 

    Tracy and I, as well as the entire Bachmann family, are committed to Camp Highlands’ ongoing success. It is in this spirit we are proud to announce that Camp Highlands for Boys is now Camp Highlands for Boys Foundation, Inc. 

    Camp Highlands for Boys Foundation is our newly formed 501(c)3 non-profit that will ensure the magic of Camp Highlands will endure for future generations. The foundation will serve two purposes. First, we will incorporate our camper scholarship program, the Mike Bachmann Campership, into our management. Through this scholarship, we will steadfastly continue the mission of making it possible for children to experience the gift of camp. (We are grateful to the American Camping Association of Illinois for their stewardship of this fund to date.) 

    Our second purpose is to bolster Highlands’ programs and facilities. While the rustic charm of Highlands is part of what sets us apart, maintaining our facility in a way that is best for our campers and the environment is an ongoing effort. With your support, we will offset the costs of maintaining cabins and buildings, updating tennis courts and athletic fields, improving our bathroom facilities, and updating our equipment.

    An advisory board of five members will oversee the Camp Highlands for Boys Foundation. We are thrilled to announce that Mark Ulfers, Anthony Moore, David “Fuzzy” Zoeller, and Mike Pinney have already agreed to serve on our board. I will continue serving the Foundation as the Executive Director.

    We want to assure you that the traditions and values that have sustained Highlands for 117 years will continue under our leadership. With the help of our board members and YOU, Highlands friends, we can look forward to another century of character-building for boys and men.

    We hope you will join us in celebrating this new adventure and help us secure the future of CHfBF by making a gift to the Highlands Honor fund. All gifts qualify as charitable contributions (under the CARES Act for 2020 only, a taxpayer can make up to a $300 cash donation to a 501(c)3 without itemizing the deduction) and will be used to increase accessibility and enhance the camp and camping experience for generations to come. 

    You may donate online or by mailing a check made out to Camp Highlands for Boys Foundations, Inc. (Please mail checks to our winter address: 1319 NW 30th St., Gainesville, FL, 32605).

    Tracy and I consider ourselves two of the luckiest people on the planet. We have been entrusted as faithful stewards of Camp Highlands, and we intend to remain so for decades to come. We are so fortunate to be able to invite you to join us on this journey. Thank you for your ongoing support of Camp Highlands. 

    Andy Bachmann
    Executive Director
    Camp Highlands for Boys Foundation, Inc.

    PS. We’re trying to reach out to as many Highlands Men (and families) as possible. Can you help us spread the word by sharing this news with your former cabin mates, counselors, and CHOFs of old? Please direct them to the Highlands Alumni Network page, where you–and they–can sign up to receive updates on all that’s happening at camp.

  4. Planning, Preparation, Perseverance

    What is the plan for Summer 2021?

    We are 100% focused on making the upcoming summer an awesome experience for your boys. As you all know, we did not convene camp last summer. There were just too many unknowns in the spring when we had to make our decision, coupled with our county health department’s request that we not open. However, many camps did convene, some didn’t go so well (Tennessee and Georgia made big headlines) but many camps did so safely and without incident.

    We’ll be heading into 2021 using guidelines from the CDC and the American Camp Association as well as using best practices that safely-convened camps implemented. That includes (but is not limited to):
      • quarantining staff before children arrive,
      • cohorting children while at camp,
      • masking/physical distancing when children are not in their cohort,
      • testing before kids come to camp,
      • a closed campus (i.e. people are not coming and going—once we are in camp, we stay in camp),
      • monitoring of children’s temperatures,
      • new handwashing stations,
      • special protocols if a cohort does end up with someone with covid (i.e. they’ll still have fun!),
      • eating outside as much as possible and if not outside, then in shifts, physically distanced
    While we can’t guarantee that there won’t be an isolated case of Covid at camp, we can put all the procedures in place to ensure there isn’t transmission between groups. Additionally, we are optimistic that testing becomes better/easier. We are working hard to ensure this coming camping season is fun, safe, well organized—and that you’re looped in all along the way. We will be holding Zoom hangouts on the first Monday of the month starting in February, so stay tuned for details about those.

    Save Your Spot

    Is it too early to consider what your boy’s summer plans are? We don’t think so! (Summer can’t come soon enough if you ask us.) As we coast into the early winter months, our hearts long for the pristine shores of Plum Lake, new friends, disconnecting from our screens, and plugging into nature. 

Many families have already signed up for 2021—and that’s fantastic—Second Term is nearly full, in fact. If you haven’t saved your spot, now’s a great time to do it.

  5. Opportunity to Live Third

    It is mid-spring, and I am sitting in a coffee shop attempting to get organized for the week. Everything is great, besides the fact that I am incredibly camp-sick. Camp-sick is the phrase that I use to describe my longing for the summer- to be in the Northwoods of Wisconsin again with my best friends on the planet. I use this camp-sick phrase most often when talking through homesickness with some of the young, Cub Division campers. I make it very clear to them that while they are definitely going to miss their parents while they are away from home, these are completely normal feelings, its emotional toll pales in comparison to waiting 300 days each year for camp to return. A day does not go by where I am not thinking about Camp Highlands for Boys. Sometimes I feel bad for my non-camp friends who are with me when I start laughing to myself about camp happenings. It is impossible to accurately portray how important and deeply rooted my passion for Camp Highlands is.

    I am going to attempt to explain why Camp Highlands’ message is so important to me, and why I feel it is an important message that all young people should have the opportunity to hear; why it ‘works’. While it’s impossible to isolate just one reason why Camp Highlands’ message is so important. It is simple, with opportunities for application at all hours of every day. In short, Camp Highlands’ message to me is about living and embodying the best version of oneself, to be someone who knows the difference between right and wrong and is firm in their steadfast commitment to doing the right thing even if no one will catch you doing the wrong thing. It is about putting others before yourself because you cannot go through life alone. The “I’m Third” motto is the base, but for many years it was too difficult a concept for me to understand in terms of what it actually means to ‘Live Third.’ You need people to live into the slogan for others to be able to understand how it truly looks. I am inspired by the examples that the men and women of Highlands have consistently displayed, from my childhood through the present.

    It is very easy to be angry at the world–it can be an incredibly unfair place with nowhere for you to place your emotions, with no one to blame for your situation. This is an uncomfortable position to be in, and often one people are not sure how to navigate; no one practices handling uncomfortable/unfortunate situations. But, when you interact with people on a daily basis who are committed to living differently, who are committed to the growth of someone’s character, it is inspiring.
    Each person adds their own ‘flare’ to what it means to be a Highlands Man/Woman–to live Third–and I am constantly developing my personal definition as well. Consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: until you feel truly safe and secure in your situation, you are not able to step out of your comfort zone to make a mistake. This is the environment that Highlands is passionate about creating for its campers from the second that their parents leave them, whether that is at the camp bus stop, or on the stoop of their cabin. The Camp Highlands staff is committed to helping you navigate the difficult situations that you will inevitably confront as a young man via structured, safe, situations, as the boys are learning how to manage their independence for the first time. What will you do when there are high winds and you turtle your Sunfish sailboat? How will you choose to continue the hiking trip when you are hungry and you have blisters on both of your feet? These situations translate directly to real life where there is not one solution. There is something tangible about the energy at Camp Highlands- the vibe if you will. It is contagious, and a great lens to look at life through.

    I am near the end of my first year as a teacher. I became a teacher because I wanted to be like my counselors at Camp, many of whom were teachers. I want to continue to come back to camp because there is nowhere else in the world where you can have an awe-inspiring conversation with a guy no older than 8 years old, and then immediately follow that with a story that has you on the ground laughing, told to you by a guy who is somewhere between 70 and 80 (but you are not quite sure because he has never answered you straight-up about it and you have been asking for 14 years). I digress.
    One day, I had a police officer come speak in my classroom with my students, and one thing that he pointed out that made a ton of sense to me was that in today’s world, it is possible to find/see things on social media that anger you from the start of your day until you go to sleep. For example, you check Instagram and you see a picture that upsets you, then later in the day you follow a Twitter thread that makes you impossibly frustrated, you think Facebook may have something nice but since they were stealing your data it is just more of the same things that upset you earlier that day, and then at the end you check Snapchat only to see that the person you wanted to Snap you back opened your Snap 4 hours ago and did not respond. Sleep, Repeat. This is the reality of the current social media era that we are in. I know this because I see this with my 7th graders every day.

    If you are never shown another way, if you never have a role model who lives their life different from this, anger may be the most common emotion that you experience (self-doubt, self-loathing, confusion, etc.). I was very angry as a child. That is why Camp Highlands is important now more than ever. All of the 7th graders in my school could benefit from having Shaun Trenholm (ST) remind them that the difference between doing a good and great job at something is about 10 minutes. All of the parents in the world would benefit from watching the most senior counselor at camp hang out with the youngest campers at camp without any technology (for the last 25+ years) and continue to work to relate to them, to be stern when appropriate, but to provide each camper with the opportunity to make their own mistakes even when society tells us that these children are too young to truly know the impact of their personal decision-making.

    Even though I hate that stinking pot that Kent bangs at 5:55 am on the Thursday mornings after a Division Day Cubbie overnight, we have 7-year-olds taking down tents and being responsible for ensuring that we leave our space better than we found it. These opportunities are authentic, and they are crucial to a young person’s growth and development, especially in adolescence. Even though I was struggling with Calculus during my senior year of high school, it was a challenge that I chose to take on because I had the personal confidence of having completed a 7-day, 100+ mile hiking trip in Isle Royale through Camp Highlands the previous summer. I was given a safe opportunity to experience some of the purest, strongest, most difficult emotions that I had ever felt to that point. I also learned the power of perseverance, and how far I was able to push myself mentally to achieve what I set out to; there was no other choice.

    Here’s Seth decked out for Highland’s 115th birthday. He’s full of pep, one of our favorite Honor Camper Qualities.

    Thus, in a world where it is so easy to be angry and to remain angry, to see people who choose to live in opposition of this negativity is why I feel that Camp Highlands’ message is so important, and why it is so important to me. Without the examples that the Highlands men before me displayed, I am not sure where I would be today… who would I look up to? Who would be my group of friends that I would go to first when my parents got divorced? I do not know, but I am glad that this is just hypothetical. In truth, I became a teacher so that I could continue to work at Camp Highlands.

    I am so grateful for the opportunities that my parents gave to me being a camper for 8 years and beyond, and I am so thankful that people like the Bachmanns, Kent Overby, Craig Erickson, and Lois Craig prioritize character development over anything.

    Trust the process. I’m Third.

    Seth Fox (this is my 14th summer at Camp, I am from Wilmette, IL, and my favorite activity is footsketball).