Bringing back the Rangers in ’21

February 21, 2021

  • 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.