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Category Archives: activities

Strong Foundations

July 07, 2017

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 10 Day forecast – for fun

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    It’s hard to not have an awesome time at CH!

     
    I just had a parent text me and tell me how sweet our 10-day forecast looked. True story. Our apologies to you folks in Texas, Florida and even Illinois (who are experiencing the weirdest summer weather ever). But the amazing outlook doesn’t just stop at the weather here at Highlands.
    How can you have a bad day that starts off with pancakes!? That’s what the boys enjoyed this morning before they set off on their wild adventures.
    How can you have a bad day when after your awesome breakfast you then end up at the adventure ropes course with Kent Overby (cabins 21, 17, 9, 13). Or maybe you’re like cabins 1, 24, 17, 25 looking down the barrel at some time skiing on Plum Lake. I’m a big fan of the stand up paddle boarding (SUP) activity – cabins 22, 13, 6 and 7 will be exploring the lake that way today. I can smell the smoke from the fire that the expedition activity built this morning and figure the guys from 14, 13, 22 and 21 are going to have a ball boiling water. The fellows from 24, 25, 10, 15, 16, 18, 9 and 14 will be hooping it up on the basketball court today. I mean honestly. What’s not to love?
    There are several trips out on the trail or lakes and waterways right now. Two Isle Royale hiking trips are out, and cabins 12 and 11 are in the Porcupine Mountains on a three-day hiking trip.
    I’d say we have a 99% chance for a great time.
    Birthday Weekend Approaches
    We are 112 years old this Saturday. One-hundred and twelve summers, you guys. Now that’s something to celebrate! Per our tradition, we’ll kick off our Steeplechase event at about 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. If you are in the area, you’re more than welcome to swing on by to watch the fun. It’s my favorite day of the whole summer. Steeplechase is an Army/Navy relay that covers not only all parts of camp but a good part of Plum Lake. Whether it’s casting a line into a hula-hoop or pin bowling, kayaking around Five Pines island, or being a part of the water boil team, each boy has his own special part to contribute to his team’s success.
    Saturday after noon we’ll have a Senior Carnival down in The Row with all kinds of wacky homemade games including a dunk tank, pillow fighting and bug juice pong. This is good clean fun.
    We’ll have our picnic supper on the hill at 6 p.m. followed by Games on the Hill. The day literally does not stop.
    And on that note…
    I <3 CH,
    Tracy B.
     

  4. GO WITH THE FLOW

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    Completely in the Flow on Plum Lake

    And just like that, we’re in the flow…
    “Flow” is a big thing at Camp. There is only one way for our waiters to flow around the kitchen to pick-up food or drop off dishes. When we remove the tables and benches from the Dining Hall there is only one door that we use; and whether we’re clearing it out or putting it all back in determines which way we will flow. When we all are in the flow then things are running smoothly, all systems are “go” and life is good.
    This week we work towards flow in a more pseudo-psychological way. When things are flowing then that means campers no longer have to ask where to put the wash buckets, which way they should go to Riflery or what we do during rest hour. When we all know where we’re going and what we’re doing, then life is good.
    I’m happy to report we’ve found the flow.
    Camp is bustling. Our activities are in full-go mode. Cabins 15, 17 and 18 are out on their three-day canoe trips, and our two Isle Royale trips and Pictured Rocks trips are already on the trails. We’ve played Capture the Flag, had our first Division Day and the ladies from Red Pine Camp came over for a social. We know each others names, have figured out who goes where and with what and we know what all those bugle calls mean.
    I love it when we hit the flow. It means the odds of homesickness have dropped dramatically. It means our staff and full termers have gotten over the “newness” of second term and are feelin’ good. And it means we can all get out and do what we’re here to do; which is make the most of our Highlands days. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s 78 degrees and there’s a sweet wind blowing!
    So on that note, I guess I’ll get my own flow on and get outside! It’s a beautiful day at Highlands!
    AB
    Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.
    Ps. Check out the new pic’s on our gallery and catch a glimpse of your favorite camper in the flow!

  5. The Stage is Set…

    We were anticipating rain and not a drop has fallen. The bus has arrived and campers have been settled. I once again feel the excitement in the air; but now the voices that echo out, “Ga-Ga-Ball!” are different than the ones I heard just two days ago. Second Term has officially begun, and I am already so excited for this new batch of campers to be here.
    One quick glance through the cabin list this year and you might think we were in the 1980’s or 1990’s. It has been so fun seeing all these alumni drifting through camp—guys of my generation—dropping off their sons for their first (or fifth) Highlands summer. And we have a great crop of newbies, too! (I’m listening to an “old” camper explain the mailboxes to a new camper as we speak…and it’s kind of hilarious.)
    The next 17 hours will have us memorizing names, listening to rules, learning about water safety, gun safety and archery safety; as well as learn how to be waiter and request an activity. Then swim tests, and BOOM! Right into the flow of camp.
    Exciting times are in store for us this summer. Our staff is outstanding – one of the best I can remember (and no, I don’t say that every year…) and they are all pumped for Second Term.
    So the stage is set- the players have arrived, and it’s time to raise the curtain on Act 2 of our 112th season. If it’s anything like Act 1 we are all in for a treat.
    Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.
    AB

    thistothis

    Boys race off the bus, everyone grabs gear and the field is cleared in 8:23 flat!

  6. Whaddaweek!

    Division Daydreams

    What an amazing first week we’ve had! Boys have had so many new and fun experiences. Wednesday was Division Day, (a.k.a. cook’s night off). Boys hang out as a division and have great time. Cubs went on an overnight campout on a local lake. Colts were all out on their 3-day canoe trip. Juniors got to go out of camp to play laser tag and get ice-cream at the Corner Store. Seniors canoed and kayaked en masse all to the way down the lake to Sayner where they ate a picnic supper and played softball in town.

    Senior Social Surprise

    Thursday we surprised the Senior boys by going over to one of our fantastic sister camps, Red Pine for a social. It’s been reported to me that staff waits to break the news to the guys right up until they are about ready to go. Apparently it helps with nerves and cuts down on excessive cologne use (ha!).

    On Track for Fun

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    Many young men have learned to love track at Highlands.

    Saturday we celebrated our all-camp Track Meet. We had an incredible day. Perfect weather, really, warm and sunny, cool in the shade. Each boy participated in all events and when the points were tallied up, Army was a clear victor. The afternoon brought clubs, where boys could sign up for different activities ranging from slack line to rocket building. The day wrapped up with a picnic on Junior Hill, followed by the world-famous Games on the Hill. I didn’t run in any event, didn’t play any game and I fell into a puddle of exhaustion at the end of the day!

    Sunday Reflections

    Lucky for us Sundays are very mellow around Highlands. After a delicious breakfast of egg casserole, fruit and cinnamon swirl coffee cake, boys took care of cabin chores, had one activity period and then headed off to soap swim. Boys put on their nice white Highlands t-shirt and headed up to Sunday Assembly. They look so handsome quietly lined up on the Hill before filing into the clubhouse.

    Assembly is a great time to reflect on the accomplishments of the week. Andy posed the question, “Who tried something new this week?” to the boys and I’d guess 85% of the room stood up. A few boys shared what they tried: Cooper T. shared he tired the adventure ropes course, Drew L. taught lacrosse by himself, Michael C. slalom skied for the first time, Mason W. learned to bridge playing cards (!!) and Tanner S. kayaked for the first time. I’d say the new experiences covered the gamut.

    Hula-hoop of Safety

    Andy talked a good bit about our hula-hoop of safety and how we’ve all had to step out of that hoop slightly this first week of camp. It’s in this next “hard-but-safe-ring” where we are challenged and learn the most. Boys were tasked with three things this week: to continue trying new things, to “be somebody,” (ask your camper about what this means) and to put the other fellow before ourselves. Probably good advice for all of us!

    And on that note…

    I ❤ CH // tracy b.

  7. We're Rolling!

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    After a brief storm last night, this full double rainbow appeared over the lake!

    Well after yesterday’s crazy weather: wind, rain, beautiful hot sun, more wind, a storm and then a double rainbow (!!), we’re glad today’s just plain perfect. It’s breezy enough for sailing (cabins 8, 12, 4, 1, 9, 11), but back bay is plenty calm for skiing (cabins 16, 8, 15, 10, 22, 3, 4, 1). It’s sunny and mild, perfect for land sports like baseball (17, 23, 13) and Ultimate Frisbee (4, 12, 1, 2, 22, 23). Honestly, you can’t go wrong! If you don’t know your son’s cabin number, then click here for the Cabin List.
    Boys started this great day off with a pancake breakfast. AND….tonight is TACO NIGHT. That means crazy costumes and a party vibe. Everyone loves taco night. But the big news of the day is that tonight’s game is all-camp capture the flag! Boys will get their Army/Navy assignment and play the game in two giant teams. The guys love this night!
     
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.
     

  8. Fourth of July Fun!

     

    We're feeling extra proud of our flag today!

    We’re feeling extra proud of our flag today!

    Hey Highlands fans! Happy Fourth of July! We drag our celebration out over the week here at camp. As you know, we celebrated the Fourth last week during our annual track meet, but the fun doesn’t stop there. We’re cranking Motown in the office and getting geared up for a great day! Today, we’ll be eating a red, white and blue fruit salad with strawberries, blueberries and bananas along side Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes, peas and fresh carrots. To finish off that all-American meal, we’ll have blue cake with cream cheese frosting. YUM.
    The weather is gorgeous. Cool in the shade, warm in the sun. Nice and crisp. The perfect day for land sports like baseball (cabins 11, 14, 21, 24, 15 and 18) and soccer (cabins 21, 16, 17 and 25). There’s also a sweet breeze on the lake. It’s a nice day for a sail (cabins 25, 18, 23).
    First term is a whirlwind of trips. As you know, each boy goes on an age-appropriate trip. Cubs have a weekly overnight on Wednesday, Colts enjoy the sweetest canoe trips on a local chain of lakes, Juniors hike in the Porcupine Mountains. Cabins eight and 12 are out on the trail as I write this. The Seniors go on an assortment of big trips. Right now we’ve got Seniors canoeing in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and boys hiking 100+/- miles on Isle Royale.
    Tonight the boys that aren’t on a trip will load up on a bus to head into the booming metropolis of Sayner, WI (pop. 207). I have traveled around the world, and have seen fireworks in Sienna, Italy and Okinawa, Japan – and I’m here to tell you, the fireworks in Sayner, WI are astounding. Our very own caretaker Kevin Rassmussen (also the Sayner fire chief!) heads up the festivities and saves Camp Highlands a primo viewing spot and positions our buses for a quick getaway. It’s a late night for these guys, but so fun!
    Can you believe that this time next week, you’ll either be here at Camp or about to pick your son up at the airport or bus!? Time flies when you are having fun.
    Remember if you haven’t RSVP’d to our family picnic on FRIDAY, we encourage you to do so. We would love to see you!
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.

  9. ANYONE! ANYONE! ANYONE!

    Perhaps you’ve heard of “gagaball?” It was new to me—but for the last couple of years the fellow who trains our lifeguards every summer has been STRONGLY encouraging me to get one. So this year, I did. And it’s a blast.
    Players enter the “pit.” A hexagon frame about two feet tall, 17’ across. Then they take this little ball, bounce it, then start to bat it around trying to hit the other players on the leg, from the knee down. You get hit below the knee, you’re out. Pretty simple. But the campers go crazy for it.
    One great thing about gaga is it is a self-policing game. Players know when they’re out, and they go out. Games rarely last more than 3 minutes. And they’re FUN!
    A few days ago, a bunch of Cubs and Colts were playing, and the chants started. “Cubbies! Cubbies!” vs. “Colts! Colts! Colts!” I don’t even remember who won; but someone did. Then, during the NEXT game, when there were only two players in the pit, they started chanting again. But this time it was, “ANYONE! ANYONE!”
    Today we celebrated the Fourth of July (on the 28th of June- I know! I know! But YOU try to get 21 trips in and out of camp in 21 days. The first Saturday of the term we have everyone in camp, so we do our All-Camp games) and it was a testament to the art of friendly competition.
    As you know, we divide all of camp in to two teams: the Army and the Navy. Once you’re on a team you’re on a team for LIFE. And so are all of your offspring. I’m a third generation Navy man myself. There really is no rhyme or reason for it- it’s just how we can divide into two teams for our all-camp competitions.
    So this morning we had our Army-Navy Track Meet. And it was a great one- it came down to a 25-point difference at the end—and with over 700 points at stake, that is a slim margin! We run, jump, put and throw- and here’s the thing. MOST of these guys have never competed in track events before. Many don’t even really know about them. So the amazing thing is when we see kids who have never run a 50-yard dash in their lives before run one and then WIN. And suddenly they have a whole perspective on what they can and can’t do. And maybe- just maybe this one win in this one event will change the shape of their lives forever. I know of more than a few Highlands men who learned to love the track and field thanks to their participation in our track meets here at camp. It’s a great event. It can make a hero out of anyone.
    And here is another thing I love about the track meet- at the end of the day we all just love to watch a good race. The Senior Relay is the big event at the end. When our fastest, oldest 4 guys from each team run about a 400-meter lap each. It is SO exciting- with everyone cheering for their team and shouting for their guy, and hoping for your team to pull through in the end. And sometimes they do! But sometimes they don’t. And today, what I loved seeing was that at the end of the big race, with all of camp gathered around hooting and hollering and shouting their teams, when the winner crossed that finish line -he stopped. And waited. And the first hand he grabbed was the guy he just beat. Then all of the relay guys gathered around, from both teams, and shared a smile and a hug for a race well run- and suddenly we weren’t Army or Navy anymore. We were Highlands. They did this with no prompting from a counselor. They did it because that’s how we do it at Highlands. This is the art of friendly competition. And it was on proud display today. It was a great day at camp.
    Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.
    Andy B.
     
     

  10. Boys Will Run

    Sometimes I take the little things for granted. And then something as simple as watching a flock of boys run past me will remind me of just how special summer camp can be.
    This morning I had one of those moments. I was sitting on the office porch enjoying one last cup of coffee before the onslaught of the day, and the bugle blew- and there they were- a flock of Cubbies clomping past the porch on their way to their activities. Running. I don’t know what it is about these little guys, but it seems like they are always in a rush to the next great adventure. They greet the day with enthusiasm and pep (Honor Camper Quality #3), and they don’t let a moment go to waste.
    Some of that zest probably comes from the compressed energy of the last two days. Long car or plane rides. A forever-taking bus. Then all those safety talks! Riflery, Waterfront, Boating Bay, Free Swim. Then the instructional talks- how to be a waiter, how to request an activity, how to put up a tent, how to sweep the cabin, how to make a bed! And then the swim test! And then the bad weather drill! It’s no wonder they’re ready to rock on this second day at camp.

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    Waterfront safety talk. Boring? Maybe. Important? You bet!

    Ross gives the thumbs up after a successful storm drill. Boring? Maybe. Important? You bet!

    Ross gives the thumbs up after a successful storm drill. Boring? Perhaps. Important? Definitely!

    But all this preparation is what makes for an exciting and a safe summer. So today, it is time to RUN. The fellas in Cabin 24 told me they have the BEST day today. Kayaking, Archery, Adventure (our ropes course) and Riflery. Then they couldn’t wait for Clubs this afternoon. Two will be making model rockets. Two have signed up for our Soccer tournament. All four were brimming with enthusiasm and excitement for this great adventure called “camp.” And all four were running all around, with nobody telling them to stand still or calm down or be quiet or act right. Because they were acting right! They were boys, being boys.
    I can’t remember the last time I ran just for running’s sake, but next time I see that flock of Cubbies blazing by, I think I will join them.
     
    Better. Worthwhile. Highlands.
    Andy B.