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  1. The track meet is almost as old as Camp Highlands itself. It’s a reminder of the early close ties to the Chicago Lab School and an emphasis on worthwhile pastimes such as track and field.
    Today? Today, we took it up a notch. After a tie in last year’s meet, Andy and Craig had a moment of brilliance and the decathlon was born! Ten events, lots of boys and staff and a few rubber chickens – that’s what a decathlon at Highlands is made of. (Well, actually, a decathlon at Highlands is made up of the long jump, shot put/softball throw, 50 yd. dash, Frisbee relay, riflery, archery, canoe race, chicken launch**, a cross country run, and final division relays.)
    76 boys ran in the cross country race on Friday evening.
    S E V E N T Y – S I X  B O Y S – over three quarters of camp ran in that race. Boys like *my kid who is not a runner (never has been) and RAN! I guarantee you, the lion’s share of boys who participated aren’t runners, but they took the initiative and showed up. Isn’t that what life is all about?

    Not being sure if you’re capable, but showing up anyway.

    I was proud of each and every boy who turned out for that race.
    The other cool thing about the decathlon is that it took up the. whole. day. Yep. We finished at 5 p.m. with an ARMY VICTORY, and were quickly ushered off to supper (Sloppy Joe’s) and then into the world-famous (no, really) Games on the Hill. Games were damp but fun and welcomed a NAVY VICTORY. So we’re all pretty much winning here, see?
    As you may have noticed, the weather has been kind of…meh. But these young men haven’t shied away from going for it. They’re learning, playing, paddling, tossing, batting and RUNNING toward life.
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH,
    Tracy B.
    **

    Those are rubber chickens in sling shots being caught in baskets. Check out the Instagram Story for some action shots.

  2. They Made It!

    So, this happened tonight! We’re taking it as a good omen for a great season!

    They made it to northern Wisconsin, Highlands friends! For those boys returning to camp for another summer, it’s like riding a bike. They chose their bunk, found their friends from last year and waited for the bugle to call them to supper and – VOILA – it’s like they never left. For first-time boys, it’s incredibly exciting, if not a little nerve-wracking (Which is OK – it’s just the first of many things to build confidence!) – if they rode the bus, they disembarked and were directed to their smiling counselors who sweep their trunks and gear off to their cabins where they’re met with more smiling faces (new friends!). They chose their bunk, made their beds with their counselor and the bugle called at 18:00 when they headed off to the dining room and – VOILA – it’s like they’ve always been here.
    Spaghetti for 200, anyone? That’s what was for supper tonight. Can you imagine how many pounds of pasta that requires? Usually around 20 or so! Lois actually stirs the pasta with her special pasta canoe paddle (I’m not kidding!) which she keeps store in a secret location (so the CIT’s don’t use it to make bug juice, I’m told).
    The weather was a little indecisive tonight, but that didn’t stop the boys from getting tours of camp and hearing the basic ground rules. The damp weather is a stark contrast to the energy and excitement flowing through Highlands right now. The staff has spent the last week painting, trimming, cleaning, inflating balls, rigging boats…..and on and on. They’ve spent hours learning how to best instruct, guide and lead your boys during their time at camp. To say our staff is excited is an understatement.
    Thank you moms and dads, caregivers, grandparents and friends of camp for sharing your boys with us. We don’t take 114 years of Highlands lightly – we stand on the shoulders of many knowledgeable, kind, skilled, fun-loving and generous men and women. While humility is one of our camper qualities, we are very proud of the traditions and values that make Worthwhile men. 
    1-2-3…It’s 114 summers at Highlands!
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH,
    Tracy B.
    P.S. Keep an eye on the gallery. The password is in the Highlands Handbook, and in many of the emails I’ve sent you over the last few weeks.

  3. We're preparing for the best summer ever!

    Check out this beauty! (can you see the ice still on Plum!?)

    I don’t know what I’m most excited about: a new pier and diving towers in Senior Row, new dugouts on the ball field or two new cabins. There’s a LOT to get psyched for in 2017!
    Have you filled out your forms?
    If you have enrolled, you’ve got forms to complete. Here’s a quick to-do list for you:

    1. Schedule your child’s physical if necessary.
    2. If your child takes medication, you must fill out the Personal Rx (formerly Camp Rx) forms. You’ll need copies of your child’s prescriptions for that.
    3. Make your travel reservations. If your son is traveling by air, please forward us a copy of his itinerary.

    Will you be staying at Camp during drop-off or pick-up?
    Did you know you can make a reservation to stay in the CH Lodge? We’d love to have you!
    Friends + Family Camp Registration is open!
    “Man, I wish I could go to camp,” said every parent ever. YOU CAN! Arrange an alumni reunion with your camp buddies and their families, bring a future camper to CH to catch the vibe or just come by yourself to sit on the dock, paddle a kayak down Star Creek or jump off of Tower Three. Now’s a great time to reserve your favorite cabin!
    Feel free to give us a call
    We’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions at all, please give us a ring. Do you have a nervous first-timer or you have a question about shipping a trunk? Sometimes a quick call can make all the difference. We’re counting down…Let’s do this thing!

  4. PEARLS OF LAUGHTER

    One of my absolute favorite things about camp is the laughter. I think I laugh harder and more often here than I do anywhere else.
    We’ve reached that time of the season where the smiles come easy, the nods are affirming and everyone leans on the best of intentions in our interactions with one another. It’s a special time of year.
    Today I was walking around and I was caught off guard by what I suddenly noticed. Friendship. All around. Everybody’s got a buddy. There are packs of boys lumbering and strutting around with the calm cool confidence of a boy surrounded by his pals. The little guys sprint as a posse to the next great thing. Whether it’s the last notes of the mess call at flag raising that mark the “GO!” of the sprint to the dining hall, or the bugle call announcing free time (and store time!), there is an urgency to EVERYTHING for pretty much all of them. And it’s awesome.
    But what caught me off guard was when I realized that back home, there aren’t packs of pals. There may be a few if you’re lucky. Maybe one “best bud” to yuck around with. But not packs like this. Our guys are surrounded by fellows who will be their best friends their whole life long. And here, in this week, at this time of the season, they are so comfortable, so casual and so cool just hanging out. And when they do, they laugh. And that laughter is a beautiful thing to hear.
    How lucky we are.
    Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.
     

    1916 or 2016? It's all the same.

    1916 or 2016? It’s all the same.

    IMG_0262

    These guys will be pals for a long, long time!

  5. FULL MOON FEVER

    There is something magical about the full moon this time of year. It peeks up above the treeline about the time the fellows are headed down for evening dip. The beautiful skies the last few days, combined with the magical silver bridge that starts small but stretches across the water as the night grows is a wonder to behold.
    On Sunday night during our brief intermission at Sunday Night Sing, the sun broke out of the clouds and an incredible double rainbow appeared above Hooks Point. Sunday would have been my Dad’s 76th birthday, and it definitely felt like a warm greeting from the man who has meant so much to this place. So I did what I figured he’d do. We all ran outside to ooh and ahh at the skies before heading back in for the second half.
    Life has shifted into a gentle flow around camp. The boys are in the routine; the new guys aren’t as baffled by all those bugle calls and the kids who were proclaiming to be homesick are having a harder and harder time proving they’re not having a blast. Most cabins have made it through all our activities, and some new favorites are popping up. It’s great to watch these guys go from Archery to Ultimate Frisbee to Water Skiing to Crafts. Yet another reminder how awesome camp can be.
    Most of our trips are either out and back, out on the trail or about to head out. Seniors are in Pictured Rocks, Isle Royale and about to head out to the Boundary Waters and Apostle Islands. This Wednesday Cubbies head out for their second overnight camping trip of the term. This time they go to Pallate Lake, a place Kent Overbey proclaims to be one of the best campsites in the northwoods.
    Life is good up north.

  6. Adventure is Worthwhile in itself

    adventureWho wouldn’t want their child to have a real-life adventure?
    Your boys have arrived and the fun, challenges, self-discovery and friendships begin exactly…NOW.
    The adventure starts the minute boys get off the bus and counselors and campers alike swoop in, grab trunks and bags and things are delivered to cabins in about 6 minutes flat. Boys who ride the bus will make their beds and head to the infirmary to check in with our two outstanding nursing team members Madi K. and Nathanial B. The bugle will blow (yes, we still use a real, live bugle at Highlands) for supper at 5:50 and then we’ll settle down to the traditional first night’s supper of spaghetti and meatballs. It’s a crowd pleaser!
    Tonight the guys will play division games and get to know each other a little bit. Andy has a rule that boys can’t “throw balls at each other” until they know each other’s names. So the games tonight are all about FUN and team building. After games, they’ll get a lay-of-the-land and hear the basic rules of camp. We sweeten the deal with campfires and s’mores. At 9 o’clock, taps will play and the guys will head to bed.
    I have to admit, the weather is a little glum (I’m from Florida, so I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to the temp!). But tomorrow we’re expecting 87° weather, so we’ll bundle up tonight and wake up to the best kind of camp weather. Warm and sunny!
    You can find all the passwords you’ll need for the gallery and instructions for how to use the email system in the Highlands Handbook (or in one of the many emails you’ve probably gotten from me). You might also want to take a look at our Instagram account to take a peek at the hidden corners of Highlands. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email us!
    Andy and I are so thrilled to have your boys with us. They are each unique, creative, energetic, brilliant creatures – 130 of them – that will make second term amazing. Thank you for sharing them with the Highlands family!
    I ♥ CH!
    tracy b.

  7. A CELEBRATION OF INDEPENDENCE

    Flag in Dining Hall

    Our flag from 1908 (Camp was 8 years old by then!) hangs proudly in the dining room

    The Fourth of July is a little funny around here. Really, it’s just like any other day–except that we have the boys board buses to head into Sayner for a front row seat at the Sayner firework display. Although it’s SUPPOSED to be a surprise, truth is most of them already know. But that doesn’t make it any less fun.
    Yesterday morning I had an all camp contest to see who could tell me the year and presiding President was when the flag that hangs in our Dining Hall hung over the capitol. There are 46 stars.
    Believe it or not, a number figured it out. Whether it is because they are history buffs (which a few folks are) or because they remembered from our Teddy Roosevelt Theme Day last year, in total 14 boys got it right. (The answer is 1908, Teddy Roosevelt; but it’s special because the 46th state was admitted to the Union on the 4th of July of that year. Cool, huh?)
    Here at Camp Highlands we celebrate the gifts of independence. Not in a, “Rah, Yay, America!” way, but in a way that is perhaps a little more in tune with the character of independence that fostered such actions to make this country great so many years ago. The gift of self-rule; self-control and personal responsibility are high on our list of what celebrating independence is all about.
    Another contest I had (and will continue to have until Wednesday noon) is to see who can memorize our 18 Honor Camper Qualities and recite them in front of everyone in the Dining Hall. It’s a daunting feat; one that Hans F., Brewster H., Declan M., Jack R. and Quinn B. have already taken on, and accomplished. Impressive acts of initiative and leadership that are serving to inspire us all.
    This is the kind of independence we cherish at Camp Highlands. When young men aren’t afraid to take on a task and see it through to completion, for the honor, pride (and ice cream) the accomplishment merits.
    How lucky we are.
    Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.
    AB

  8. ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE

    This morning, walking up to flag raising I overheard one of our staff guys comment to a young camper as he was gazing out over the boating bay, “Another day in paradise, eh?” The young man simply grinned and nodded. Another day in paradise, indeed.
    It’s been quite a week at Camp Highlands. This past Saturday we had our 4th of July Army/Navy Track Meet (on the 25th of June…don’t ask…) where it was LITERALLY neck and neck the entire time, INCLUDING our final lap on our final relay which saw an absolute TIE at the finish line, resulting in the first ever TIE of the track meet. At the announcement in the Dining Hall, with the anxious Admiral Armstrong and General Fox waiting to hear who would bear the brunt of the challenge, what I thought would be a disappointing announcement actually produced the opposite result. The hall erupted in cheers, and a spontaneous chant of, “Highlands! Highlands! Highlands! We’re all friends!” Everyone was thrilled—and the General and Admiral thought it only fair that they BOTH participate in the challenge. Go Highlands!
    On Sunday at our Assembly, after telling the boys the story of I’m Third, we had some powerful testimonies from some of our men from Cabin One. It was great. Then, with a heavy heart I inducted Ross Freeland into the Camp Highlands Hall of Fame, and announced that we have renamed our ball fields, “Freeland Field.”
    And then we added a new Honor Camper Quality to our list of 17. The new quality added is one that is exemplified in the I’m Third motto. This trait encourages us to measure our sense of self esteem and pride against a higher moral code; a moral code that places our value in the ways in which we act and interact with the world around us, not by the amount of “likes” we get on our selfies.
    Truth is we are flawed people; we make mistakes and fall short; we let our vanity take advantage of our morals, and our desires overcome our hopes and visions. And that is just part of who we are. Which is why this value is a good one to have.
    This value affirms us in our brokenness, and invites us to give life a go again; to try, and to fail, and to try again.
    So we add our 18th honor camper quality. It is, “Humility.”
    Author CS Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
    Contrary to what popular culture may want us to believe, we believe that the greatest rewards in this life come from our ability to live well, love others and be of good service. And this trait is the cornerstone to understanding that and living into it well. And this place is one where we are affirmed in our willingness to try again, to be good to one another, and to have a great time while doing it. Another beautiful day in paradise, indeed.
    Better. Wortwhile. Highlands.

  9. Riding the Winds

    IMG_5635“If you surrender to the wind you can ride it.” – Toni Morrison

    The 28-mile an hour winds have blown in a camp full of boys today. We are incredibly thankful for the energy and spirit they bring with them.
    All the bus campers arrived before 5 p.m., beating Jim DiDomeninco’s predicted arrival time of 5:07 p.m. (Winning!) As tradition dictates, we’ll be eating spaghetti tonight – 20 lbs. of spaghetti, that is! Lois and Greg do an great job in the kitchen. Did you know Lois has been our head chef for more than 20 years? And Greg our awesome sous chef is joining us for his second season. We are psyched!
    I wish you could see the scene when the busses arrive. In a matter of just a few moments all boys, duffels, trunks, lacrosse sticks, backpacks and tennis racquets are unloaded quickly and delivered to their cabins. As a mom, I watch the scene and think, “isn’t there some sort of system here?” Apparently you don’t need much of a system when you have 113 years of Highlands magic (and experience) in your pocket. In fact, nearly 100% of our staff has been here before, and of those returning, most of them have been campers here their whole life. They know how it goes! Check this time lapse from this afternoon out (note the end when a pick up soccer game starts!)

    Tonight after supper, the boys will play games by division, get the lay of the land, hear some baseline rules and cap the evening off with s’mores. Yep. It’s a hard job but someone has to do it.
    Because the camp gods are smiling down on us today, it’s WARM. But our guys will have to wait until tomorrow’s swim tests before they dip. By lunch tomorrow, every boy will be tested and given the low-down on how our buddy system works. We take our waterfront activities very seriously. As Andy always says, “You never walk alone when you walk with safety.” 
    There’s a vibe in the atmosphere, and I think it’s more than these gale-force winds. It’s something bigger. 113 years of magic, excitement, heritage, tradition and love is in the air.
    113 years. We’re ready for you.
    And on that note…
    I ♥ CH,
    Tracy B.

  10. Countdown to Summer!

    IMG_3964
    We’re 29 days away from the start of our 113th camping season. And we can’t wait!
    We have an incredible array of campers and staff coming this season—and we have made some exciting improvements in our camp facilities to ensure that, while we’re still the oldest continuously-operated boys camp in the midwest, we’re still making the necessary improvements to keep camp awesome. Just wait until you see the TWO new cabins we’ve built!
    Right now we’re starting to review travel plans, consider cabin assignments and order t-shirts. If you haven’t finished filling out your forms, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible. We especially need to know if your son is going to be riding the bus by May 25. If your son will be taking prescription medication, you are required to register them with CampRx. Those directions can be found in the forms section of the website. We stock most over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Benedryl, etc. at the infirmary to be distributed by our health staff.
    If your son’s physical isn’t until closer to the start of camp, that’s OK! While we’d prefer to have them in as soon as possible, we understand the headaches joys of trying to get your kids into the doctor during this busy time. Please make sure to photo copy both front and back of your insurance card and to sign the bottom of that form. That is the medical release form.
    Finally, we have two helpful resources that will be like gold to you—especially if you’re a first-time Highlands parent. That is the Highlands Handbook and the Packing List, both of which are located in the Forms and Documents section in the parent log in page. Almost any question you have can be answered in the Handbook. Mail, email, packages, homesickness, medication – you name it – it’s in there.
    We are so excited for this upcoming season. We’ve got another incredible lineup on the staff, including a few new faces that I know are going to be awesome fits at Highlands. And we’ve still got a few spaces in our first term—so if you know some great young guy that would benefit from the Highlands experience, send them our way!
    We can’t wait for another incredible season at Camp Highlands!
    Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.
    –Andy