Category Archives: end of camp

What? It’s Over???

July 07, 2017

  1. 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!

  2. End of Camp, what you need to know

    Today marks the beginning of the end of the term (excuse me while I dry my eyes!). Here is what you need to know about this week.
    Tuesday: Our final Division Day. The boys hang out as a division, cook out and our cooks enjoy a night off.
    Wednesday: The evening brings us Stunt Night our infamously famous talent(less) show. 7:15 p.m.
    Thursday: Kerchief ceremony in the evening.
    Friday, August 7Parents are invited to arrive at 3 p.m. to hang out, watch the football tournament, cheer for our 5K racers, meet your child’s counselor and bunkmates. New this year: Please sign in at 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!

  3. Making the most of our days

    As our days grow shorter, we are still jumping, running, playing and growing.

    As our days grow shorter, we are still jumping, running, playing and growing.

    My kid has been working toward graduating from skiing for three, maybe four years. But what does that mean? And why is it taking such a long time? Here at Highlands we mark our progress through an activity by Achievement Credits (ACs). Each activity has a long list of measurable and achievable goals that boys work through. Week by week, over the years. Once a boy has made his way through all the ACs, there is usually some final piece of the puzzle to complete: a written test, teaching the activity or some other major hurdle to jump.
    Our counselors take awarding ACs seriously. Boys really have to work for the credits. It’s not a gimme situation!
    On Thursday before final banquet we have an event in the club house called the Kerchief Ceremony. Each camper is recognized for ACs earned over the summer and their achievements are memorialized forever when each boy upon leaving the club house places his stick into the Fire of Friendship. It’s a powerful marker for the hard work our boys have put in. But it marks not only the baskets shot, riflery scores made or whitecaps sailed. It marks the four weeks of living without the comforts of home! It marks the growth and independence each boy has exhibited. It marks the friendships forged through living the Honor Camper Qualities.
    We are a week away from our final banquet, and rest assured, our sons are still thriving, growing, learning and challenging themselves! As the sun starts to lower in the sky and the days grow shorter, we are still running, playing and making memories. We will make the most of these last sweet days of summer.
    On that note…
    I <3 CH,
    Tracy B.
    Today's schedule is action packed – per usual!

    Today’s schedule is action packed – per usual!

  4. First term winds down

    It’s started, you guys. The rush toward the end of the term. This morning boys are out at open activities trying to rack up as many ACs (achievement credits) as possible, as this is the last day to have them awarded. ACs are the way we track progress through an activity; they’re a list of skills and achievements that we mark in the all-mighty AC book. On Thursday evening we have a Kerchief Ceremony where we honor each boy’s hard work over the summer.

    The rest of this week just flies by. Yesterday was the last Division Day and the Cubs headed into town to Jim Peck’s and the Lumberjack show. They really live it up, those Cubs, lead by Kent Overby. They ended the night with ice-cream at the Corner Store. The other divisions picnicked together and hung out knowing this is the last of the typical days at camp.

    Tonight we look forward to the world famous Camp Highlands Stunt Night, which is our answer to a talent show. Boys have been working on their skits for at least a couple hours now (ha!). What we lack in actual talent, we more than make up for in kookiness and fun. Thursday night is the Kerchief Ceremony and Friday is the final banquet. Poof! And just like that we will pack your boys up and send them with their parents or on the bus back to Chicago on Saturday.

    Of course a lucky handful of boys will be staying all summer with us. Those guys have an action-packed day on Saturday including a trip to The Waters, a movie, pizza at Alexander’s and ice-cream at the corner store. Full term boys have the luxury of knowing they have another FOUR weeks to meet new people, perfect their shots on goal, get up on skis, and hang out on the most beautiful peninsula on the planet. If you think your boy might want to stick around for another four weeks, give us a shout. There are a few spots left for second term!

    Here are some things you’ll want to know if Saturday concludes your son’s time at Highlands this summer:

    Friday is the final banquet. Parents are invited to arrive at 3 PM. You’ll be directed to parking in the upper lot or on the football field. You’ll be able to watch your boys at assigned activities, meet their counselor and finish packing up their trunks. You’re invited to join us at the picnic supper on Junior Hill at 6 PM. The awards and banquet follows and wraps up about 8:30 PM. If you have not RSVPd online, that’s OK, you can just email Tracy and let her know and we’ll add you to the list. See you soon!

  5. 13 Stunts, 100 Kerchiefs and one Banquet

    The packages and letter has tapered off and that can only mean one thing. Summer is nearly over. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get my kids back. I’m lucky. I get to see Judah on occasion, but our middle child is in her fourth week at girls’ camp and I’m about to burst. It feels a little like the night before Christmas when I was eight, only it’s been going on since Sunday. I can barely stand it! Three more days and our band will be back together. I know you guys are excited to get your kiddos back, too. While these last few days of camp have been the warmest and best of the summer, I know campers are ready to be back with their families.
    But the fun isn’t over yet! Our Highlands boys enjoyed an archery competition with Red Pine Camp this afternoon while the rest of the campers enjoyed one of the last days of activities. Tonight is our 2014 second term Stunt Show. We’d call it a talent show, but that would be false advertising. Somehow even I got roped into a skit. Tomorrow we’ll have a football tournament, a tennis tournament and a baseball game and more. We are going to squeeze every last minute of FUN out of this summer!
    These last few days are filled with activities and tradition. Thursday evening the boys will receive recognition for their efforts at camp as their name and ACs earned are read off. Boys will add their twig to the Friendship of Fire symbolizing a connection of all Highlands men that went before. It’s a special night, and in my opinion, it’s the most magical night of the summer.
    Friday is the last day of camp fun. For you moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and friends, you’ll need to know that activities will start at 3 p.m after rest hour is over, followed by a picnic supper and the final awards and ceremony. We call it a wrap when taps blows for the very last time this summer around 8:45 p.m.
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.

  6. Strength in Failure

    It’s official. We’re in our last week here at Camp. It’s a series of “lasts” now. The last turkey supper (my waistline will be happy about that), the last Sunday Night Sing, the last Sunday Assembly.
    Andy and Ross went out with a bang today during Assembly. Our discussion was about vulnerability and failure. Wait, what? Aren’t we here to make your boys into strong young men? Failure?

    Boys shared their greatest achievement at camp and what else they'd like to accomplish this summer.

    Boys shared their greatest achievement at camp and what else they’d like to accomplish this summer.

    We talked about how through failure and perseverance comes experience and ultimately success. It teaches us GRIT. Falling down on skis over and over again can be frustrating. Judah B. shared how he’s been going for his “drop a ski” Achievement Credit (AC) for two years. He did it last week, and this week he easily got his “deep-water slalom AC.” Success­–after a lot of falling down. Charlie Z. shared his experiences in baseball this summer working on a particularly difficult AC. Ross would hit the highest fly ball possible and Charlie had to catch it. It took him try after try to do it. Lots of failure there. But guess what? He did it.
    So often we think that if we fall down we’ve failed. In our culture of Facebook bragging and Instagram showoffing we don’t want to admit when things don’t go quite right. But your boys heard it loud and clear today. Fail! Do it often! Get back up! Try again! Andy even made us chant it: “Don’t give up, don’t give up. You can do it. Try again.” (I’m paraphrasing, but it was something along those lines!)
    Your guys are out running around today, making the most of their last few days at Highlands. Tomorrow will be the last regular day of camp. Tuesday is Division Day, Wednesday will bring us the stunt show, Thursday the Kerchief Ceremony and Friday… well, you know, Friday’s the end. Saturday morning by 9 a.m. camp will quiet.
    We get let down easy, though! We don’t have to go right back to it, thankfully, as Friends and Family Camp starts on Saturday evening!
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.
    Things you’ll need to know for these coming days:
    Friday’s festivities: Please arrive at 3 p.m. for some end of term fun. The picnic supper is on Junior Hill at 6 p.m. followed by the banquet ceremonies in the dining room and wrapping up about 8:30.
    If your child is traveling by car you may take him home that night, or you may pick him up in the morning at 9 a.m.
    If your child is traveling by bus, he’ll be on his way by 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. The bus will arrive in Madison at the Pinecone Shell at 1 p.m. The bus reaches Rockford at 2:15 p.m. and then depending on traffic is scheduled to arrive at O’Hare
    Airport about 3:30 p.m. Once boys are dropped off at the airport the bus travels over to the O’Hare Oasis and should arrive between 3:45 and 4:00 p.m.

  7. First term is coming to an end

    Argh! It's Pirate Day!

    Argh! It’s Pirate Day!

    We had an awesome weekend! You likely saw the pictures from Pirate Day on Saturday. We had somuchfun! The boys were placed into four teams and spent the day in pirate-themed activities. I don’t know who had more fun, the campers or the staff (including Andy Bachmann, who fully embraced his role as Black Beard). Saturday evening we had a picnic supper on Junior Hill. It was a great end to the day.
    Sunday’s Assembly allowed us a time to reflect on our summer so far. Boys shared in their cabin groups whether they had achieved the goals they set during the first week at camp. If they hadn’t, they were prompted to think about what they could do to achieve them this week. Assembly is a quiet time in camp. After a fast and fun week, it’s always good to have a few moments to think about the incredible achievements the boys have made.
    The show must go on!

    The show must go on!

    Sunday afternoons are open activities, so boys can choose which activity to attend in order to work on Achievement Credits or just participate in whatever their favorite activities might be. And of course Sunday Night Sing is a blast. The power was knocked out by a brief thunderstorm. Conveniently our caretaker Kevin is the fire chief and he cruised up Junior Hill in a fire truck and hooked up a generator to run the electricity for the lantern slide projector! What a hoot!
    The week ahead is going to be a good one. Today is the final Division Day. The Cubbies have the bus today and are headed to the Wildwood Wildlife Park and then to the Lumberjack Show. They have a big time, complete with ice cream at the corner store! The other divisions have camp-based activities and a cookout tonight.
    Tomorrow will bring to Sayner, WI the 2014 First Term Stunt Show. We would call it a talent show, but that might be a stretch! In all honesty, it’s a blast – and rumor has it there are several outstanding skits and performances planned.
    Thursday evening is the Kerchief Ceremony, a quiet and special time at camp when boys are recognized for their achievements at camp. They’ll don their red kerchiefs and each boy will place his stick into the “fire of friendship.” In this busy, changed world, it’s so neat that boys get to have this sort of rite-of-passage experience.
    Friday is our final banquet, Highlands fans. If you’ll be joining us, we’d love to know. You most likely made a note on your forms, but if you suddenly decide to come, just send me an email. We’d love to have you! The schedule for the day is as follows:
    3 p.m.: Water Carnival
    6 p.m.: Picnic supper and banquet festivities
    8:45 p.m.: Wrap up!
    You are free to take your son home with you, or you can pick him up by 9 a.m. on Saturday when First Term comes to a close. We are really looking forward to seeing all you parents and caregivers, but we aren’t ready to stop the fun yet! Off we go to make the most of this last week!
    And on that note…

  8. The last of '13

    There's still plenty of time to get those last ACs in activities.

    There’s still plenty of time to get those last ACs in activities.

    We had a long discussion at lunch about how today was the last turkey dinner until Thanksgiving. Wait, WHAT? The last turkey dinner? That means tonight is the last Sunday Night Sing, and tomorrow is the last Monday (and so on). And while it’s true that we are verging on five days left of actual camp, Andy pointed out in Sunday Assembly (also the last) that we still have a quarter of second term left. Plenty of time for boys to accomplish new things in this summer of ’13.
    In fact, in the past few days my kid accomplished two of his goals for the summer: to drop a ski and to climb to the top of the Clubhouse chimney (don’t mind this proud mama). But he’s been working on these things since June 23. Can you imagine? I watched that boy climb that chimney dozens of times this summer. Dozens. When was the last time you saw your kid try, fail and try again? And AGAIN? And again. (and so on). To me, more impressive than the actual accomplishment, was the effort. Perseverance. Grit. I’m lovin’ it. And trust me, it’s happened to your boys, too.
    The past few days have been cool and beautiful. Of course we wish it was 78 and tanning weather, but I guess I ought to be celebrating I’m not at home in Gainesville, FL where it’s 97 every day. The boys have been amazing. In fact, you’d never know it was chilly. They’ve been running, playing and swimming every day.
    This coming week starts to get a little crazy, so I’ll give you the run down on what’s going on, that way in case I can’t knock out as many blog posts as I’d like, you’ll still have a sense of what’s going on. Monday and Tuesday there will be several open activity periods so that boys can choose which activities they’d like to go to. That way if they’re really close to graduating tennis (or riflery or whatever), they’ll have the chance to get the last ACs (achievement credits) necessary. On Tuesday, we’ll have our last Division Day. Everyone will be in camp, and I’ve heard from reliable sources that the Juniors will be having some sort of Survivor Day. I’m hoping someone will tape it and make it into a movie for…..
    Stunt Night. Which is on Wednesday evening. As many of you know, Stunt Night is the Highlands version of a talent show, however, history has proven that one needs not talent to perform in said show. It’s always a laugh. Thursday is the Kerchief Ceremony, a solemn, lovely ceremony. And then of course it’s Friday. The noon meal will bring with it the Honor Tripper awards, and starting at 3 p.m. is the Water Carnival and family picnic and banquet.
    We love being able to share some of the camp spirit with you during this last day. In our eyes it brings a sense of closure to this remarkable experience your boys have had. They have grown so much, endured cooler temps and rainy weather. Blazing heat and pretty much the worst mosquitos I’ve seen in my 15 years up here in the North Woods. This night gives everyone the opportunity to process the summer. And when your son mopes around for a week or two as he readjusts to “the real world,” you’ll have a good idea of what it is that’s happened to him these four (or SEVEN) weeks. And of course, in my opinion, the best thing is hearing Mike read “Goodnight Little Cabin.” That coupled with the last Taps is magic.
    Don’t worry, I’ve still got a post or two left in these fingers this summer. I’m still processing the INCREDIBLE Sunday Assembly this morning where we heard from long-time Highlands men express their love for Highlands. Let me just say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. But that’s another story.
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.

  9. Somewhere over the rainbow

    As many of you saw, we were graced with an incredible perfect double rainbow on Wednesday afternoon. To date, the photo we posted on Facebook has garnered the most likes and shares of anything we’ve ever posted. While it’s a great photo, I didn’t think it was THAT good. It kind of got me thinking. Why? Why was that picture such a hit?


    The rainbow started in my front yard and moved to the Cub/Colt ski pier.

    I have to tell you, what you don’t know about that photo is that when I walked into my living room with a feverish and sleepy toddler in my arms, it looked like that rainbow was IN MY HOUSE. Both Remy and I started hooting and hollering, and I dashed out into the rain shower without shoes. By the time I got to the end of the dock, I was literally standing in the end of the rainbow. While there were no leprechauns or pots of gold, I did feel like I might get sucked into Narnia or whisked off to Hogwarts. I flipped out. I absolutely sounded like that guy Hungrybear9562 on YouTube.
    While I don’t know what standing in a rainbow’s end means, it’s does have me thinking about these things:
    1. We are so plugged in it aches. Screens and images and the hum of the computer follows us everywhere we go. In this day and age, finding a quite spot to appreciate the abundance and beauty of this world in which we live is increasingly difficult. That we know over 110 boys and young men are running and playing and yelling and getting dirty in this wide, wide natural world – right this minute is reassuring. Even if we can’t sit on the lake shore as the perfect rainbow-making storm rolls by, our future fathers, husbands and leaders ARE.
    2. Camp is a moment in time. Those rainbows came and went inside of ten minutes. Just like moments of refracted light slip quickly by, so to do these precious moments of summer and, indeed, these precious moments of boyhood. I am particularly sensitive to how fast this time goes by. We recently had a former camper and staffer visit Highlands who is now a crew chief flying around in helicopters for the US Marine Corps. I have photos of him as a 9 year old rolling around on the ground with our old dog. It seems like yesterday!
    3. Rainbows are LUCK. They are filled with symbolism. And despite being a pretty unsentimental person, the fact that I danced in the end of the rainbow on Wednesday is soaked in meaning. We are SO lucky. Lucky to belong to this community. Lucky to be under the careful and loving wings of Mike and Sharon Bachmann who make this whole thing possible. Lucky to have happy and healthy boys. Lucky to have the support of families near and far, spanning the decades. But mostly lucky to be here now.
    4. People loved that photo because it reminds them that there is something incredibly magical about Highlands. A summer at CH is not just learning to throw a perfect spiral football, or dropping a ski. It’s about building a special kind of inner strength. One all their own, without moms, dads or siblings to help or hinder. It’s about how they may leave Highlands, but Highlands will forever be in their hearts. That perfect double-rainbow is a metaphor for this experience. Gorgeous and fleeting.
    5. With just a week left of summer 2013, I’m left feeling full. Full of excitement for what your boys will come home with; stories, jokes, tans, a certain calmness after a summer of running amok. I’m feeling full of purpose as an administrator and communicator. Full of refracted light and full of luck.
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.

    This was the best shot I got. Mainly because I was so excited I didn’t notice my finger was in EVERY other photo.


  10. Happiness is a by-product


    The t-shirt says it all: HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY

    Oh my goodness. Can it be? We only have how many days left of camp?! I don’t know how you feel, but it’s gone by in the blink of an eye for us.
    This coming week is filled with many traditions. From the Stunt Show on Wednesday night to Kerchiefs on Thursday, Honor Tripper recognition, Water Carnival – the list goes on. Tonight is the last Assembly, the last turkey dinner and the last Sing for our first-termers.
    I have the inside scoop that Andy Bachmann and Co. will be talking about making the most of these last days at Highlands this morning at Sunday Assembly. We should all probably listen to that advice! Andy and I have had many interesting discussions recently about Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous and brilliant quote, “Happiness is not a goal, it’s a by-product.” At Highlands we believe that a worthwhile life, is earned by working hard, persevering and adhering to those camper qualities we hold to be sacred. By making the most of every opportunity, by putting the other fellow before ourselves, by being helpful and productive – happiness is inevitable!
    Happiness also prevails when you get that boy you love so much home on Saturday, July 13th. Here are details on the last days of camp.
    The final banquet is on Friday, July 12. Festivities begin at 3 p.m. during the water carnival (think ski show, synchronized swim routines, and something with a greasy watermelon – only at camp!). This is followed by supper at 6 p.m. and the banquet which wraps up around 8:45 p.m. You are welcome to take your son home at that time, OR they can sleep the last night in their cabin and roll out of camp at 9 a.m. on July 13. It is up to you.
    The bus schedule on the way home is:
    1:00 p.m. drop off in Madison at the Pinecone Shell, DeForest exit
    2:15 p.m. drop off at Rockford Clock Tower
    3:30 p.m. O’Hare Airport drop off
    3:45 p.m. O’Hare Oasis drop off
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.