Blog

FULL MOON FEVER

July 19, 2016

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. Sad news

    89889545-B3C5-479A-AF60-608EF5051F5FIt is with deepest sadness that we pass along the news that our beloved friend and Highlands man Ross Freeland has passed away.
    After a valiant battle with late stage gastric cancer, he passed away earlier today with his wife and son, Anna and Eli, and his mother and father Jani and Jim by his side.
    Ross influenced hundreds of young men and women through his teaching, coaching and counseling. One of his most outstanding traits is that he brought out the very best in all of us; inviting us to his positive world view and the simple but honest belief that if we will, we can. His never-ending positivity, optimistic view and heart of deep kindness will be a beacon for all of us to look to in all the days ahead.
    Memorial service plans are have not yet been determined, but as soon as we have a time, place and date we will be sure to let you know.
    In the meantime, do what Ross would want us to do. Have a catch. Watch the sunset. And live your life with meaning, putting God (however God is known to you) first, others second, and be third. Just like Ross.

  8. Share the love: Let's give Ross the gift of our memories

    Ross in the stern of the war canoe about 2014.

    Ross in the stern of the war canoe about 2014.

    Dear Highlands Friends,
    One of the most powerful Sunday Assemblies from the past decade was when Shaun Trenholm unpacked his trunk, but instead of bringing forth clothes or camping gear, he pulled out letters that he had written to the people who had most influenced him in his life. In that assembly, he encouraged each of us to write those letters to the people who have made a significant impact on our lives.
    In this spirit, we invite you to send a verbal letter to our most worthwhile man, Ross. As you know, Ross is in a fierce battle with gastric cancer right now. He and Anna and Eli are doing everything they can to wage this fight. But it is an exhausting battle. And the difficulties weigh heavy on everyone’s hearts. In a recent visit I had with him, the best time we spent was when he and Anna and I could laugh about stories from this past summer and other great moments from our past. It was clear that the cherished memories bring a smile to his heart, and to Anna and to Ross, those smiles are golden.
    So we invite you to participate in keepsake CD of cherished memories and stories with Ross. The instructions are simple.
    Call in to the number listed below. Enter the 5 digit code. And, when prompted, share your name and then share your story. When you are done you can simply hang up, or listen and re-record your message if you are so inclined. It’s as simple as that. We will keep the recording lines open for one week, ending next Wednesday, March 16th. Then the CD’s will be sent to Ross and Anna by the end of next week.
    We think he would love to hear your voice talking about a special time you shared together, a story about him that always makes you smile, or what you think makes Ross uniquely special. Remember when leaving your message that a meaningful story or shared memory will make the most impact. 
    This is simply one more way we can boost Ross, Anna and Eli’s spirits and let them know how loved and cared for they are by people the world over. So, if you are so inclined, prepare your thoughts, remember the joy, and share your story with our most worthwhile man.
    Thank you for your love and support.
    Here is all you need to do: 
    1) Call LifeOnRecord, 1-800-606-0697 by midnight Pacific Time on March 16.
    2) When prompted, enter your Invitation Number: 16075
    3) Record your message after the tone. Remember to say your name. When finished you can either hang up or press the # key. If you press the # key you’ll be given options to listen to your recording, accept your recording, or re-record it.
    Feel free to forward this onto other people that know Ross so that they can contribute to the keepsake as well. Callers outside of the US and Canada can reference this link for dialing instructions: ‪http://www.lifeonrecord.com/faqs.htm#countries
    Thank you for helping to make this a wonderful gift for Ross, Anna and Eli.

  9. What makes a Worthwhile Man?

    Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

    Andy took a very long walk!

    I am fresh back from a 500 mile walk across Spain, where I followed in the footsteps of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who, for the last 1600 years or so have been making the journey to Santiago de Compostella, the purported final resting place of St. James the Apostle. It’s a journey I’ve wanted to make since I was 15 years old, and, thanks to the good graces of my wife and family, was able to do it.
    Obviously a 500 mile walk will give one plenty of time to think on things. And one of the things I thought on was, “What makes a man worthwhile?” It’s a term we use a lot at Camp Highlands – due to it’s central place in the philosophy of the Highlands Way. And it’s a good question for each of us to consider (as is, for that matter, what makes a person, man or woman, worthwhile?), and one that provides terrific insight into our own expectations of character and quality.
    Now – spoiler alert – I am not going to divulge to you the characteristics that I feel MOST exemplify a worthwhile man. But I will gladly share with you that each summer (and this past summer in particular) I can proudly say that I saw outstanding qualities of worthwhile men played out every single day by our exceptional staff. Whether it was in the kind way they offered encouragement to a boy trying to water-ski for the first time, or the gentle way they steered some rambunctious campers towards more peaceable solutions to who gets to play teatherball next. Our staff is the secret to our success at Highlands – and I am always so proud to say that we have an almost 100% return rate for our staff. That means consistency in character, in values, in heritage and in fun. The men and women who make up our staff are the ones who define what a worthwhile man or woman is. And they are the examples your sons look to to help steer them right.
    It is time for me to start hiring our staff for next year – and while I know we will have an extremely high percentage of returnees, we are always open to the next outstanding young man (or woman) who will help us round out another excellent season at Camp Highlands. Do you know a great young man (or woman) who would be an outstanding addition to our Highlands family? Then please, send them my way! And, if you haven’t yet done so, don’t forget to sign your boys up for our upcoming season. Because I can guarantee that they will be cared for and counseled by outstanding men and women who exemplify the Worthwhile way. So what are you waiting for? Join us for our 2016 season!
    Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.
    Andy

  10. Fare thee well from Friends + Family Camp

    A note from F+F coordinator, Tim Bachmann…

    “Fare thee well for you must leave us, do not let the parting grieve us, but remember that the best of friends must part, must part. Adieu, adieu good Highlands Friends, Highlands Friends! We’re sorry, that our days must end, days must end – But we’ll be back next year as happy as can be, fare thee well, fare thee well, fare thee well!”

    fandfcampThe 47th annual Friends and Family Camp Week has come and gone. The last of our guests has driven out. Staff members have put away the kayaks and canoes, sailboats and paddle boards. The outboards are out of the water. The tennis nets are down. The kitchen staff is busy cleaning out freezers and refrigerators. It’s leftovers for one last lunch. It’s a sad day – but a beautiful one. It’s warm and the lake beckons, though seems much quieter.

    We had a banner year this year at Friends + Family Camp. Every cabin was occupied. With our late father, Mike, not here – we simply did what we had to do. We stepped up on the bench of the Doc Monilaw dining room porch and filled his shoes with ours. Andy, Ross and I were no funny-one-of-a-kind Mike – but we were still full of caring, and this was enough. We found that Highlands is still Highlands, and that the ever present void left by Dad’s absence was not something so powerful so as to steal our joy. Camp is still here – if not on an ascent. Thank you, Dad – we saw you all summer in the breathtaking rainbows and moments of pause. We remembered your specialness so many times, and in so many ways.

    One of my first campers, Rob Rousseau (Cabin 23, 1985), was here with his two sons. Who do you think taught them to water ski? It was David Kuesel, the son of Artie Kuesel. Artie taught Rob how to ski – now 30 years ago. Others had the same experience, perhaps with Kent Overbey teaching their children at Adventure. We had 34 alumni on the Peninsula with their respective friends and family. They were universally surprised by the number of faces they knew!

    In 1963, Norvil Beeman made a decision. It was yes or no – to sell camp to a 23 year old staff member named Mike Bachmann. Norvil’s answer was yes, and the rest is history. Those of us at CH this summer have Norvil to thank. In fact, this was true more than ever as Norvil’s extended family was with us for a family reunion. Daughters Dottie and Marty were with us – stars of their clan. Memories, reflections, and gratitude for Norvil and his wife Cleo were recorded. Thank you, Beemans!

    Tonight, we will take the post camp staff out to dinner. For me, it is one of the highlights of the year. Despite the fact I wasn’t here for Boys Camp, I love these men and women. They have worked SO HARD! They are true Highlands! We will dine at the Clearview Supper Club on Big St. Germain Lake. It will be a wonderful night full of reflections, stories and laughter. Most of all, it will be night full of appreciation –  for the beautiful North Woods, each other, and Camp Highlands. There will be a bittersweet feeling we already feel in our hearts – the realization that another beautiful, happy season at Camp Highlands is over.

    Check out the photos on the gallery of all the fun we had. The password can be requested by emailing tracyb@camphighlands.com.