Category Archives: I’m Third


June 06, 2016

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.


    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.

  5. Reflect on Sunday

    Ross and Andy talking during Sunday Assembly

    Ross and Andy talking during Sunday Assembly

    As many of you know, Sunday is a quieter day around Camp. There are open activity periods in the morning and a required soap swim before Sunday Assembly. Assembly is a great time for boys to slow down and reflect on some of the changes that might be taking place in their minds and souls during their time in Never-never Land. Today’s reflections offered by Andy and Ross were some of the most poignant we’ve had to date, in my opinion. They talked about being a Worthwhile man, and what it means to be “Third,” but they both came at it today with a fresh perspective and energy. It was great. Ross relayed the story of Lucas Winter washing his trip’s dishes in the freezing cold rain after a 20 mile hike. On his birthday. And Andy relayed the story of being recently rescued from the side of the road by two incredibly generous strangers.
    It could very well be that I’m just tired, but I got misty eyed when Andy recited the Worthwhile Man prayer, calling specific attention to the verse, that goes, “Give me the strength to stand for right when other folks have left the fight.” I watched the Cubs, our littlest boys, listen to Andy and Ross, completely mesmerized. To me, these are some of the greatest moments at camp. Whether they learn these lessons by actually listening or by osmosis, I’m not sure, but it’s pretty cool either way.
    If you’ve been keeping track of the weather, you’ll know we’ve had some relief from the heat. Thank goodness! Yesterday was in the low 70s and gorgeous. A perfect afternoon for “clubs.” Your guys got to sign up for their selection of: “Top Shot” (riflery competition), soccer tournament, juggling, slack line, Frisbee golf tournament, craw fish gathering for a craw fish boil and model rocket building. Walking around camp, I thought, “man, camp looks fun!” Club days are a great time for boys to hang out with boys not in their cabin, or even in their division!
    Tonight is “walk-through” dinner, AKA leftover night. Boys have to write a letter to gain admittance to supper! So if you haven’t gotten a letter yet, you can start looking for one mid-week! Just hope that they don’t choose to write their Grammy and Pop first.
    Two of our big Senior trips to Isle Royal went out this week, and the Colt division (all but two cabins so far) went on their three-day canoe trip. We are all starting to look forward to our birthday celebration this weekend on the 27th. 110!!! Amazing! This is a great weekend to come for a visit. The Steeplechase is a BLAST, and of course Games on the Hill is a big crowd pleaser.
    This first week has gone beautifully. And listen to this: only 20 more days left. That’s FAST. Before you know it, you’ll have these guys back in their beds, making tons of laundry and eating you out of house and home.
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.

  6. Reflections on the Worthwhile Way

    Boys stand in formation before walking into Assembly, as they have for 110 years!

    Boys stand in formation before walking into Assembly, as they have for 110 years!

    Ahh, Sunday at Camp. It’s mellow. Most alumni will tell you Sunday at Camp Highlands means three things. Assembly, Turkey Dinner and Sing. Let’s start with Sunday Assembly, which is a quiet time lasting about 45 minutes where staff and campers offer reflections on what it means to be a Highlands guy, which is to say, a Worthwhile Man.
    Today’s Assembly was great (I’m probably biased, since it was headed up by Andy Bachmann). He told stories about being a camper and the ways that he learned to live the “I’m Third” philosophy, not by walking around saying “I’m Third” all the time, but instead by modeling his behavior on older campers and staff members that took the time to mentor him when he was a camper.
    He described his days back in cabin 25, when John Burnside took little Andy Bachmann under his wing. He’d invite him to go sailing with him, he’d invite him to be his buddy at free swim. And most importantly he’d let Andy twist his arm as he’d do an arm flip. (PS he probably had jeans like that guy, too)! Andy said he felt important because John was big and cool. And then he told about how he modeled that behavior when little Martin Miller first came to camp, by inviting him to be his buddy at swim and by inviting him to go sailing with him.
    Those and the other stories Andy told got to me. It was hearing the names of guys that came as campers a long time ago – and who’s boys are now coming as campers! It was the idea of leading by example – through a time vortex! That’s one of the things that makes Highlands so special. I feel so lucky that I’m raising a FOURTH generation Highlands guy. I love that part of what makes MY kid so special is, in a way, John Burnside’s impact on Andy. Whew! Talk about “Pass[ing] it On.”
    Couple all that the most gorgeous weather today, Turkey dinner and Sunday Night Sing, and you’ve got a recipe for general awesomeness. I’m feeling incredibly lucky to be here today. I know these boys are feeling that magic, too. It’s catching!
    And on that note…

  7. Make new friends

    Every summer when I go over the Camper Expression forms (the forms all campers fill out before they get to camp, expressing what they hope to accomplish at camp this summer) I am not surprised that the number one hope for the vast majority of our campers is a very simple one – to make new friends.
    All of us want to make new friends. We want to find new and interesting people to hang out with. We want to find someone to play catch with, or to go sailing with, or to be our buddy at free swim. But making new friends, and being a good friend is not always that easy! So this past Sunday at Assembly we explored what it means to be a good friend, and how to improve our friend-making skills. Because Camp is a perfect place to do that.
    It’s a perfect place to make new friends, because there are friends-to-be all over the place! And they all want to make new friends too! Another reason it’s a good place to make new friends is because here at camp we try to live a little differently than how people might live at home. We try to live the “I’m Third” motto.
    Ross Freeland always does an excellent job sharing the “I’m Third” story, and how our simple philosophy of putting God (however God is known to you) and your values first, putting other people second and yourself third is a great way to live. Ross spoke of how “I’m Third” is the heart of the Highlands experience; it is the muscle that provides the life blood to all that we do at camp.
    And if “I’m Third” is the heart of camp, then the Honor Camper Qualities are the backbone! Also at Assembly this week, we took a closer look at some of those qualities with real life examples from home and from camp. Charlie Stearns spoke of the importance of consideration, especially when we live in such close cabin environments. John Milner talked about initiative, and how great it is when the older guys invite the younger campers to go sailing or to do something fun. Kirien Katzmarek spoke of how willingness and helpfulness make life at camp a little easier for everyone. Johnny Zokovitch shared how at camp it is important that we try to be generous, not just with the cool things we bring to camp, but with our time as well. Nick Morgan shared how people with Camp Spirit live the Highlands motto in their daily lives, and Antonio Carrera shared how a dependable person is someone that you can count on, in good times and in bad.
    We then had “The Highlands Players” act out a few scenes for us of negative and positive ways we might react to some common camp situations. We saw what happens when a waiter drops his tray in the dining hall (here at Highlands nobody makes any mean comments or applauds mistakes, instead a flock of people swoop in to help clean up). We saw how guys might react if a cabin mate can’t catch a baseball, or what to do if someone feeling homesick. Finally, they showed us how easy it is to find a friend; with Davis Altorfer meeting Trey Taylor, then introducing him all around to Reed Altorfer, Kent Taylor and David Swarts.
    At the end of assembly I challenged the guys to do three things this week. One. Smile. It’s amazing how friendly a place gets when people simply smile at each other. Two. Offer three compliments to other guys every day. And finally, invite someone that you don’t know very well to go and do something.
    I was really encouraged to see that not long after Assembly, Pablo Vilarreal invited Judah Bachmann to go play teather ball, and just yesterday afternoon, Hayden Bingham took Clayton Stewart out for a sail.
    Our hope here at Highlands is that the guys will see that with just a little initiative and a little kindness, the world can be a better place. I get to see that every day here at camp.
    How lucky we are.
    Andy Bachmann