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This Matters

July 07, 2017

  1. Friendship, unplugged, fun, outside of our comfort zones, nature, becoming our best selves. This matters.

    I was recently talking with a father of one of our campers. He shared how his son was receiving a LOT of pressure to attend the summer clinics of his chosen sport. The coaches were holding out starting position offers like bait, and head-shaking shame if this boy chose a path different from the one they were suggesting. Fortunately for us, the boy (and family) didn’t take the bait.
    We have staff here who still remember when Division I athletes would come to Highlands. Our program director remembers how during free time, these athletes would pull out every heavy object at camp to haul around Senior Row. Meanwhile, they were also leading trips through the wilderness of the north woods; teaching boys the importance of hard work and perseverance in achieving one’s goals; and modeling for them the honor dignity of being a well-rounded human being. Not just an all-star athlete.
    This father I was speaking with said the decision for their family was an easy one. “My son is not going to be a professional athlete. So skipping the summer sessions should not feel like he’s sacrificing a career. Five, ten years from now, none of that stuff will matter. THIS matters.”
    I couldn’t agree more.
    Better, Worthwhile, Highlands,
    AB

  2. Welcome Second Term

    And just like that, second term has started! Drop off was a bit damp, but you’ll be happy to know that today the skies are clear, the lake is gorgeous and the boys have a great northern Wisconsin day ahead of them. Today’s schedule includes safety talks in the various areas of camp and swim tests. After that’s complete, the guys will get to it with activities.

    The Instagram Story is a great way to get a quick taste of what’s going on around camp. But keep up! The clips disappear after 24 hours!

    We’ll start uploading photos to the gallery this evening, but in the meantime, don’t forget to check out the Instagram Story – it’s where we’re doing a lot of posting this year. You’ll love it.
    As a side note, Andy and I will be living out your reality, as we drop our middle daughter off at her camp this morning. I’m full of jitters – a mix of excitement and heartache – you guys might know a thing or two about that! Even after five years of going to camp, she gets excitedsadnervoussuperhappy on drop off day. This is one of those profound concepts that Michael Thompson talks about in his book, Homesick and Happy – the idea that we can have simultaneous conflicting emotions. You can be completely thrilled to be having an amazing time at camp AND also feel really sad missing your family. Can you tell I’m trying to talk myself into having the right attitude about today’s excitedsadnervoussuperhappy drop off?
    And on that note…
    I ♥ CH,
    Tracy B.

  3. What? It’s Over???

    Happy Independence Day, we had an awesome time here at Camp Highlands yesterday. After lunch the individual divisions grouped up for their “Division Day.” Cubs took the busses into town to Jim Peck’s and pizza, Colts made PVC marshmallow-shooters, and Juniors and Seniors yutzed around camp, playing on a giant slip-and-slide and cooked out. The weather was wonderful. At 9, all of camp loaded up on busses to head into Sayner to watch the amazing fireworks show. Our caretaker also happens to be the fire chief and reserves a VIP location for Highlands every year. The boys reportedly hung out in “cuddly piles”! Ha! And did you check out this video of the eagle that was swooping around camp yesterday?! Amazing!
    Here’s what you need to know about the final days of camp:
    Wednesday: Stunt Night…our infamously famous talent(less) show. 7:15 p.m.
    Thursday: Kerchief ceremony in the evening.
    Friday, July 7: Parents are invited to arrive at 3 p.m. to hang out, watch the football tournament, meet your child’s counselor and bunkmates. Please sign in at the water carnival or the office to get your name tag when you get to camp, thank you! Picnic supper is at 6 p.m. followed by our final banquet festivities which conclude around 8:30 p.m.
    You are free to take your son after the banquet, please communicate that with your son’s counselor and with the office.
    Boys depart camp Saturday, at 8:45 a.m. on the bus back to Chicago. **If your child disembarks in Madison (1 p.m.) or Rockford (2:15 p.m.) PLEASE contact the CH office.
    If you haven’t updated your travel information in your parent log in area, please take the time to do so. If you still need to RSVP to the final banquet, you can do that by emailing us at camp. THANK YOU!
    It’s going to be a great week!

  4. Strong Foundations

    Cairns – not just a pile of rocks.

    Several cairns have popped up around camp. At it’s most basic, a cairn is a pile of stones. But cairns have meanings other than *just a pile of rocks. Cairns mark the trail for our guys hiking across Isle Royale right now. Cairns can be found on the beaches of Lake Superior, possibly denoting a place or a time of significance for somebody. And at last week’s Sunday assembly, I talked about how our honor camper qualities and our camp motto can serve as cairns or wayshowers for us in our time at Highlands—and beyond. Now, we’ve got all these rock piles around camp. Which I love.

    It’s a nice reminder that these guys aren’t just running around, tossing Frisbees and balls, paddling canoes and kayaks, sailing or skiing across the lake, or jumping in to the chilly waters for kicks. It shows that they’re also taking to heart the things that make camp so worthwhile. They’re recognizing that the words, “if he will, he can” aren’t just words; they’re goals accomplished, new friends made, new experiences tried. They’re building their own little way showers, using the stones of experience and opportunity to become a better, worthwhile, Highlands man. And they’re doing it all with a big ol’ grin on their faces.

    Better, Worthwhile, Highlands.
    – Andy
    And now for some general updates…
    We’re heading into our last week of first term, if you can believe it! Our trippers start to return this weekend – the Seniors have been hiking on Isle Royale and Pictured Rocks, sailing on Lake Superior and canoeing in the Boundary Waters. Juniors have been hiking in the Porcupine Mountains and will all return by this afternoon. If your kid is anything like ours, trip stories will trickle out over the coming year – it’s one of my favorite things about Camp.
    Today’s theme day is Hobbit Day! The weather is gorgeous this morning – sunny, clear and calm. A great day for waterskiing. Tuesday night we’ll head into Sayner for the fireworks show, Wednesday night is Stunt Night, Thursday is the Kerchief Ceremony and then….we’re on to Friday and the final picnic and banquet!

  5. Track meet, meet the the decathlon

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.