1. Dear Highlands Supporters,

    We’re in the middle of our 118th season here at Highlands, and I’m proud to say that the magic on Plum Lake continues. We have our highest enrollment numbers in years, with both first and second terms “full.” And nearly all our staff is comprised of returnees. How lucky we are!

    We are also lucky, thanks to the generosity and thoughtfulness of so many of you. This year, because of your donations to the Highlands Honor fund, we have improved our beautiful facilities while honoring our history. THANK YOU.

    At Highlands, we’ve been climbing for more than four decades. In 1981, two staff men built our first “Adventure” course. But Kent Overbey oversaw it for the better part of thirty years. Countless young men learned one of our core Highlands values, the “courage of the man who knows that if he will, he can,” thanks to the gruff and loving encouragement of Kent Overbey. He often said, “Confidence expands proportional to the distance from the ground,” to boys as they struggled with their first experiences of climbing and rappelling down our Adventure wall. After 41 years of life lessons and use, it was time to update our facility. And update it we did!

    We are proud to introduce our new climbing wall and zip line, newly dedicated as “The Overlook,” in honor of Kent Overbey’s guidance and leadership for all these years. Thanks to your generous donations, Highlands campers will learn the essential lessons that Kent taught us for decades to come. Thank you for your support.

    Tune in tomorrow, Saturday, July 23, as we celebrate Highlands 118th camping season with our Steeplechase and Birthday Army/Navy Fundraiser. Former Admiral Jim Ott and Former General Loren Shinn will be checking in all day on Instagram and Facebook to encourage our respective teams to out-raise one another for this year’s friendly competition. Please help us spread the word!

    See you tomorrow and go Highlands!

  2. What you need to know about 2022

    “It’s time to start thinking about the importance of your summer.”

    —Craig Ericksen, Program Director

    A Summer of Potential and Adventure

    We are getting geared up for 2022, and we hope you are too! We know you have questions about this summer, and we’re here to answer them.


    Have you signed up yet? If you haven’t, that’s OK, but don’t wait! We start working on cabin assignments in the late spring, and it’s helpful for us to know your plans. Are you interested in camp but would like information about scholarships? Email Tracy to find out about availability and our process.

    Health & Vaccines at Camp

    One thing we have learned through the pandemic is that we can’t predict what Covid has in store for us. Health and safety are our top concerns at camp. We strongly recommend a Covid vaccination for all camp participants, but it is not required at this time.

    We’re staying vigilant and fluid and working with our health team, (including a pediatric cardiologist and two infectious disease doctors) to help us create policies as necessary. We will inform parents if policies change.

    We require all camp participants receive a negative Covid PCR test within 72 hours of their arrival at camp. You will submit this form on your CampMinder account before opening day.

    If you have any questions about why we have made this decision, please reach out! We are more than happy to discuss this with you.

    Medications at Camp—New in 2022!

    In our ongoing commitment to meet the needs of our campers who require medication while at camp, as well as comply with all the state regulations regarding medication dispensing for summer camps, we require that you:

    • Send all prescription medications—including pills, inhalers, epi-pens, HGH, topical creams, etc. clearly labeled in the original packaging in a gallon Ziploc bag.
    • Please write the camper’s name in Sharpie on the Ziploc bag.
    • The Ziploc bag must contain the Prescription Medication Form, which gives dosage time and quantity. (this form is also in your CampMinder account).
    • All medications brought to camp must be submitted to camp health staff during check-in and must be fully documented on the Health History & Exam in your CampMinder account.
    • A physician must prescribe vitamins (gummy or otherwise).

    Remember, we stock common over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen and Tums. You do not need to send your child to camp with these medicines. Please call us with any particular concerns.

    Travel to Camp

    If you plan to ride the bus from Chicago to camp, please complete the travel form no later than May 1. Thank you!

    Gear and Packing

    We love gear at Highlands! By following the packing list, your camper will have just what he needs. You can find the packing list on the website and on your CampMinder account.

    Parent’s Handbook

    One of the best things you can do to make preparation for camp go smoothly is to give the Parent’s Handbook a good review. Even if you’re an old hand at Highlands, we’ve updated some things and it might save you a few minutes of wondering or confusion throughout the months leading up to camp. As always, Andy and I are always available for a conversation

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. A Different Kind of Summer

    Dear Highlands Families, 

    Thank you for your continued support during the last few months as we have worked to understand the current health crisis and its effects on camp. This has not been an easy time for any of us and Tracy and I appreciate your patience as we have grappled with how to proceed this summer. After weeks of intense discernment, we have come to the heartbreaking conclusion that we cannot safely operate camp this summer, and we have to cancel our 2020 camping season. 

    We did not come to this decision lightly. We have consulted with our staff, state and local health officials, the American Camp Association, and numerous camp directors. We also have talked one-on-one with many of you, as well as our families and campers. We have examined just about every conceivable way we might be able to offer a bit of the Highlands experience for our boys. Unfortunately, at the end of every discussion, the risks for our campers and staff are too great and do not outweigh the benefits.

    We are so sorry. And we are so sad.

    We know this is a profound loss for you and for your campers. We know it will be especially hard for our last-year Seniors, those fellows who have come up through the ranks at Highlands and were looking forward to being the kings of the hill, the mentors of all, the leaders of the camp. To them, we say: Gentlemen—stay tuned. We are cooking up a very special program just for you for next summer before you join us on the staff. 

    And to all our Highlands men and families: Stick with us fellas—we’re gonna be back bigger, bolder and better than ever next year and you don’t want to miss out on the magic. You can enroll today for summer 2021, and any tuition you’ve already paid will be credited to next summer. Of course, if you’d like a refund, we will return all monies paid via check. You also may consider making a donation to the Camp Highlands Scholarship Fund so that boys who might not otherwise be able to come to camp may attend. (You will receive a subsequent questionnaire asking you to share your intentions in regard to 2021 and refunds.) 

    Highlands is more than just a summer camp in the Northwoods. It is a philosophy that seeks to put the other fellow’s needs before your own. It is a community of worthwhile men who help us discover the strength of our own character. It is a constant reminder that when we can unplug from the busy world and spend some time in the wilderness, we are better people for it. These truths are universal and can be lived by each of us, every day. 

    We know you will have questions. Please take a moment to review our Frequently Asked Questions. And don’t hesitate to reach out via email or phone call.

    Stay safe, stay strong, and until we meet again, fare thee well good Highlands men. 

    Yours in Camp Spirit, 

    Andy and Tracy Bachmann

  7. Dinglebat: May 2020 Edition

    New Honor Camper Quality: Patience

    We have all sharpened our skills of patience in the last two months. Heck, maybe we need to add that to our Honor Camper qualities this year in honor of the strangest spring any of us can remember. Camps across the country are waiting to hear the recommendations from the CDC and the American Camping Associations. They’ve promised we should hear from them soon and as soon as we’re able to review the guidelines, synthesize their recommendations, and formulate our summer plan, you will be the first to know, no later than May 22.

    While we don’t have any revelations about this summer to share yet, we do have some Worthwhile things for you and your family to think about, read, watch, create, and discuss this week.

    The Power of Fire

    What is it about staring into a fire? It’s one of the best things about summer at Camp—roasting marshmallows, the Fire of Friendship during Kerchief Ceremony, the water boil during Steeplechase. Did you know we teach boys how to start a one-match fire? We consider it one of those life skills, like knowing how to tie a proper square knot.

    Check out this guy using advanced maneuvers with his cord drill and pump drill. If your boy needs something to occupy his time, set him out to see if he can pull this off. We will all be really impressed!

    We’re going to put Andy Bachmann to the test this week. Can he start a one-match fire? Keep an eye out for him on Instagram and Facebook. It sounds easy, but is it?

    Questions to Ask Your Camper Over Dinner

    “How have you changed over your time at camp?” Or, for the new camper, “How do you think you will grow at camp?”

    What We’re Listening To

    Andy and Tracy are big fans of business-oriented books and lectures. We really enjoyed this interview with Disney CEO, Bob Iger. Our favorite part of the podcast was when he explains that his greatest legacy is knowing that he’s put the right team in place for the future.

    An Anthem for The Great Pause

    This song, “Heavy” by Birdtalk, has been on repeat at the Bachmann house lately. The words “Leave What’s Heavy” resonate with us as we take time to consider what our priorities in life and business are. What are you going to leave behind from your life before C-19? What have you learned about yourself that you’ll carry forward?

    The Power of a Handwritten Note

    At least once a summer someone talks about the power of a handwritten note at Sunday Assembly. The great Sharon Bachmann was the master of the note—they don’t have to be long or fancy. Heck, decent spelling and handwriting are optional! What’s not optional is the intention it takes to put pen to paper, find a stamp, and get it in the mail. We hope you’ll reach out to your friends both young and old in the coming weeks. Email me to get a list of last year’s campers and staff.

    1918 at Camp Highlands

    As you know, 1918 was a devastating year for our country with the end of World War I and the 1918 Flu pandemic. We asked our camp historian, Tim Bachmann if there was anything written about it in the CAHIBO, the camp yearbook. In fact, there was no mention of the epidemic, but there was a long list of Highlands men who served in the Great War. Those who died in combat were noted with an asterisk.

    From Andy: Get out Into the Woods

    In this time of social distancing and quarantine confinement, I’ve found that my saving grace has been getting out to our local parks and greenways and spending some quality time in nature. I’ve always loved getting out into the woods. When I was a counselor one of my favorite activities to teach was Expedition. I loved teaching tree identification and tracking. So here is a challenge to you: can YOU name 5 different trees in your neighborhood? Do you have any white or red pine trees (like we do at camp)? What about maples or birch trees? It is empowering to stretch our brains and our relationships with the natural world. When we know the world around us, we feel a deeper connection to it, and in this time of social separation, we can use all the friends we can get!

  8. Staying Healthy and Safe in 2020

    The health and safety of our campers and staff is always our highest priority. We are watching events closely and are working with the local health department and following state and federal guidelines regarding COVID-19. We all have questions about what the next few weeks will teach us, but in the meantime, here’s what we can tell you.

    How will COVID-19 affect camp this summer? 

    • Our dates remain the same—we are Highlands—which means we are optimistic, realistic, resilient, vigilant and flexible. 
    • We are monitoring things closely, and staying in touch with our families regarding school closures and/or modified schedules. 
    • Please keep us posted on what your school district plans are. 
    • We will keep you up-to-date via email and on the blog

    What are your plans to keep everyone safe during the summer?

    • We will implement our screening during check-in (as always) and update it as prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Camp Association (ACA). 
    • We always have hand sanitizer on the tables at meals, but will also set up additional handwashing stations as necessary. 
    • We will increase our cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and objects during camp, including equipment.
    • We will follow all health department and CDC guidelines regarding sending staff or campers home if they become ill. 

    Who is responsible for keeping Camp safe and healthy?

    • We have two registered nurses on staff that work closely with Andy, Tracy, Craig and our head counselors to ensure all protocols are followed. 
    • Our caretaker Kevin Rasmussen is also the Sayner Fire Chief and an EMT. He is an invaluable link between Camp and the community. And his wife Barb, is a paramedic and they live on the property with us. We are so lucky to have them on our staff.
    • We work closely with the Vilas County Health Department and the ACA to create policies that have camper and staff health at the forefront.
    • We will follow all CDC guidelines.

    Links you might find useful

    On a personal note, I’ve been examining my priorities this week. It turns out they mostly revolve around food, family and dogs. We are lucky that we have a stocked pantry (which I cleaned out this weekend!), warm beds to sleep in, and friends and family to call or video chat with. We are thinking about ways we can be “Worthwhile” either in-person or virtually. Starting today, I’m going to write one letter per day to the people I love. What ideas do you have to keep focused on the good things in life? I’d love to hear from you. 

    I ♡ CH, Tracy B.

  9. Chicagoland Meet and Greet CANCELLED — FacebookLive instead!

    When life gives you Coronavirus, make a Facebook Live event! (catchy, right?)

    In the name of social distancing, we’re going to take our meet and greet online this Sunday. We will do a short presentation and take a quick peek at some unseen camp footage and be available to answer your questions online. Come join us as we try out some new technology maneuvers (could prove entertaining for that alone!) and get you schooled up on this summer at Highlands.

    Here’s the scoop: Just log on to Camp Highlands Facebook page on Sunday, March 15 between 1:30—2:30 CST and see what’s cooking! We’ll see you on the interwebs!

  10. Milwaukee + Chicago, Here we Come!

    Calling all new and returning campers, alumni, friends of camp and people that want to know more about the amazing place we call our summer home…Please join us for a casual information session and to get excited about the upcoming summer. We’ll watch the videos from 2019, do a brief information presentation for those who are new to Highlands and Horsengoggle for some sweet Highlands swag. (If you don’t know what Horsengoggle is, come on Sunday and find out!)

    If you can’t make it, but know someone that would like to know more about Camp, please send them our way.



    Sunday, February 9, 2020 / 1–3:30 PM


    1447 E Goodrich Ln, Milwaukee, WI 53217 (the Kuesel home)



    Sunday, March 15, 2020 / 1–3:30 PM


    Chicago Highlands Club, 2 Bluebird Trail, Westchester, IL

    Please RSVP