Byron Shinn 1934-2015

June 12, 2015

  • Byron Shinn spent 49 summers at Camp Highlands for Boys.
    Recruited as a young man by the man who was the director of Highlands before Mike Bachmann (William J. “Doc” Monilaw), Byron was one of the unique figures who could speak to the history of Highlands dating back to a time before those of us familiar with Highlands could even comprehend. Other than Mike and Sharon Bachmann, no one has spent more seasons at Highlands than Byron Shinn.
    He was an integral part of camp life. He will be most remembered for his love and dedication of the sailing program. You could often hear Byron’s booming bass shouting cryptic sailing lingo out across the lake, telling boys to “Ease the main sheet!,” “Don’t pump the tiller!” or “lift up your daggerboard!” He was a stickler for proper terminology; and many befuddled boys quickly learned the importance of knowing what was what. Byron took special pride and pleasure in leading the sailing trips at Highlands. He would skipper a 32’ foot sailboat on Lake Superior with 4 or 5 boys on board; and by the end of their journey each of them would know the pride and joy of taking the helm while under sail. He was well known for his cooking skills on those trips, and boys would often return to camp regaling their cabin mates with tales of Byron’s hearty breakfasts and delicious steaks.
    Though never a camper at Highlands, he did climb the ranks of the staffing positions; as counselor, trip leader, and eventually one of our head counselors. He took great pride in the fact that he was one of the trip leaders of Mike Bachmann’s first canoe trip, and was the man who taught Mike’s grandchildren to sail.
    In his later years at Highlands, Byron played an intregal role in probably the most important place in all of camp; the kitchen. At Highlands, the boys are tasked with serving as the waiters for their cabin mates; and as you can imagine, not all 9 year olds are up to the task of properly setting the table, serving the food, or cleaning up efficiently afterwards. Byron masterfully made clueless young campers feel at ease with the proper protocols. He would arrive early before every meal, entertaining the campers with tales of why the knife blade always faces the plate (a ritual enacted by the knights of the middle ages, he claimed) as well as remind us all of the most important tool on the table, the ever present spatula!
    His service and dedication will forever be remembered. Already a member of our Camp Highlands Hall of Fame, Byron Shinn will live on in our hearts as a most worthwhile and true Highlands man. He will be missed.
    There will be a service of remembrance at 2 pm on Saturday, June 13th at the First Congregational Church of Western Springs. 1106 Chestnut, Western Springs Illinois.