Category Archives: summer 2012

Goodbye little cabin

August 08, 2012

  1. I just cracked the seal on my kid’s trunk. Oy.
    It contained (among other things): 6 carabiners, a harmonica, two CH hats, over a dozen letters from his Pop in Florida, a certificate honoring his bugling at camp this summer, filthy socks, and about a pound of sand. And the smell. I won’t complain. I’m just glad to have him home.
    It’s a fierce thing – a summer at camp. These young Highlands men have been challenged in ways they may have never expected. Sure, they knew backpacking over 100 miles on Isle Royale would be difficult. They knew shooting a bullseye in archery would require lots of work. But they might not have known they were going to have someone in their cabin they didn’t really jive with. It’s not easy to co-habitat with a cabin full of kids all summer! Your boys have tried and succeeded at many activities, and failed at others. They’ve had highs and lows. It’s a lot like life in general.
    I’ve been reflecting on MY summer at camp, and one unexpected discovery I made was the blessing of truly backing off of my kid. I want to be a “free-range” parent, but my inner control-freak sometimes gets the better of me. There’s a lot to be said about the many, many men (young and old) that teach and mentor my kid here at Highlands.
    I didn’t have to hound the boy about setting goals and sticking to them. His ski instructors did that for me. I got to take the summer off from nagging him about picking up his towel. His counselor did that for me (or didn’t, who knows and ultimately, who cares!?). His dad didn’t have to say, “J, you don’t need to control every situation.” Kent Overbey was able to gently remind him that there might be a better way to make friends than bossing people around.
    Let me tell you, time stopped when I heard my boy recite the “Worthwhile Man” prayer from memory last week. This Highlands thing. It’s sinking in! And last night at the final banquet, when the entire dining hall joined Andy in the prayer without prompting, I was overcome with emotion. Talk about magic!
    Moms and dads, you should be very proud of yourselves. It’s also fierce to ship your kid off for a month (or more!). In this day and age of fear and shock, it’s often difficult to drum up trust in others. We know it. We appreciate it. We are honored you believe in the Highlands experience. Thank you parents, grand parents and everyone who supported these guys in their adventures at camp.
    If we haven’t said it before, we LOVE these kids. We hope that they come home a little tanner, a little more unplugged, a little more polite, a little more capable, a little more dependable. We hope they’ll share their experiences of camp with you, and that they’ll talk a little bit more about what “I’m Third” means.
    As one mother said to me in an email, “I was musing last night about talking to [my son] about choices he’ll be faced with in the coming years. It occurred to me that I could simply say, ‘If you wouldn’t feel good standing up at Sunday Assembly and telling the folks at Highlands about your choice, you might need to give it some more thought.’ I think that pretty well sums it up.”
    We are so proud of these kids. You should be too. We’ll see you back next summer. Goodbye little cabin!
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.
    Highlands Prayer
    God, make of me a Worthwhile man.
    Give me the strength to stand for right
    When other folks have left the fight.
    Give me the courage of the man who
    That if he will, he can.
    Teach me to see
    in every face
    the good, the kind, and not the base.
    Make me sincere in word and deed,
    Blot out from me all shame and greed.
    Help me to guard my troubled soul
    By constant, active self control.
    Clean up my thoughts,
    My speech,
    My play,
    And keep me pure from day to day.
    Oh make of me a worthwhile man.
    (adapted by Mike Bachmann)


  2. Packing it up

    If the weather a couple days ago was awesome, it’s pretty ragged today. Cold and rainy. However, we are looking forward to a slightly warmer day tomorrow with lots of sunshine. That’s great. You might grab a jacket on your way up to camp, though. It’s only going to get up to 71° the weatherman is saying! That’s nearly freezing by my Florida-girl standards!
    Tonight the guys will participate in an age-old tradition, the Kerchief Ceremony. It’s another opportunity for boys to reflect on the less obvious benefits of a summer at Camp. Sure, they’re celebrating their achievements in activities, but even more, they are celebrating their bond to 109 summers of young men just like them. Boys that have run on these fields, slept in these cabins. Like many things at Highlands, it’s special. You can read about the ceremony in an essay written by our program director and alumni Craig Ericksen. He’s got a unique perspective as a former camper, father of campers, and staff member.
    The dreary weather is not stopping the packing or the lost and found collection! The laundry is clean(ish), so hopefully, your boys trunks won’t be too terribly stinky upon their return. I’ve heard lots of great ideas on how best to unpack your camper when they come home. Two tips that were passed on to me: unpack the trunk in the driveway (sand!), and just throw the socks away (they’ll never be the same). Moms and dads, do you have any other tips? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
    We should probably warn you about your camper’s reentry to the “real world.” I know in *this* Highlands family, we are all a little crabby after camp ends. We’re tired. We have culture shock. Yes, we’re happy to have 247 TV channels at our fingertips high-speed internet, but we are really ships without a rudder since we don’t have the bugle to tell us where to go! We miss our friends, our routines, the lake, Taps. Lois’ meatloaf. It’s hard. Again, moms and dads? Do you have any words of wisdom, or stories you can share to help the new camp parents know what to expect when their kid comes home after a month of living under a bug net?
    Remember the final fun starts tomorrow at 3 pm at the Cub/Colt swim pier for the Water Carnival. You’ll have time to get your camper loaded up, a chance to shop at the camp store, and an opportunity to review the lost and found before supper starts at 6 pm. The banquet wraps up around 8:30. It’s a great way to wrap up the summer, and can help you understand what the last four weeks have been about for your boy. We’ll see you there!
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.

  3. Elsworth says, "Summer's almost over!"

    This weather. It brings a tear to my eye. I hate to brag, because I know many of you have been hot and sweaty all summer. But this day. It is perfect. It’s great for the boys who are out finishing up earning their ACs (achievement credits). Activities are open, which means your boys get to pick where they go.
    History was made this morning. Elsworth the moose, who proudly hangs over the kitchen doors in the dining room, spoke to us after a 25+ year nap. He made an announcement about the 1st annual Elsworth Pine Wood Derby which will take place on Thursday. And then he led us in a cheer. It was awesome. Only at camp, folks!
    This week is so fun. Tomorrow we’ll have the Top Shot competition at riflery, and a Wacky Canoe race. Thursday is the Art Show and the Derby Race. Add that to a final Division Day (Cubbies go into town to Jim Peck’s zoo, a picnic at Clear Lake and then lumberjack show), Seniors Dream Burger picnic, Stunt Night, Kerchiefs and the Banquet – and you’ve got the recipe for awesomeness.
    It’s a fun week, but bittersweet. The wind has shifted, there is a crispness in the air. The nights get down into the 50s. It all means this summer of fun and self-discovery, challenge and friendship, is growing to a close. I just don’t know how I feel about that!
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.

  4. One week left!

    I know it’s been a couple of days, moms and dads, since we’ve posted photos or a blog entry, but we’re struggling with our spotty internet connection. We are working on it, and I just might need to take a trip in to town for Paul Bunyan donuts Internet to upload the picts from the last few days.
    So can you believe it?! Just a week left of camp. It’s zoom time now. Here’s the scoop on what the boys can expect over the next week.
    Tomorrow, Saturday, is Olympic Day. Boys will be placed in multi-generational groups and will be competing in a myriad of events and will even have a British-themed lunch of fish and chips (ok, they’re sweet potato fries, but it’s close!). I see that on the menu, Sharon wrote “Olympic ho-ho cake.” Trust me, that cake would medal in any competition. I once asked Lois what went into that cake and she told me, “You don’t even want to know.” It’s so good!
    Sunday will be our final Assembly and Sing. Tuesday will be our last Division day, Wednesday is the “Stunt Show” (our talentless show), Thursday is Kerchiefs and Friday is the final Banquet. See what I mean? It’ll go by quickly. So parents, start socking your pantries now, these boys will be back in their own beds, eating you out of house and home again before you know it.
    And on that note….
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.

  5. The days move by

    Ten actual camping days of the summer left. 11 if you are a stickler, but that last day of camp doesn’t really count since the busses pull out and the last camper is gone by 9 a.m. on Saturday August 11. I can’t believe it! Time flies when you’re having *this much* fun!

    A view from the office porch. What a day on Plum!

    So what are the guys up to today? Well, after a breakfast of pancakes and a yogurt bar, they were out tearing up the fields and the waters enjoying the most amazing temperatures. Last night was cool, I found myself getting really snuggled under the covers around 4 a.m. (It was hard to drag myself out of bed at 5:30 for a run…ugh!) and this morning  has just been lovely. They keep saying highs in the high 80s, but I’m just not seeing it. A calm, glassy lake is calling the skiers and wake boarders among us! Cabins11, 25, 10, 1 and 2 are all getting pulled behind a ski boat today. And wouldn’t you love to be in a canoe on this lake (right)? Cabins 12, 13, 15, 21, and 3-7 (remember lots of guys are on trips) are all going to be working on their J-strokes and rudders today. Cabins 25, 13, 24, 9 and 11 will be embracing their inner Katniss at Archery. Sailing the balmy waters of Plum today are cabins 1-4, 8, 12, 16 and 18 (believe it or not, there is a decent breeze). Cabins 23 and 8 are fishing, and 24, 9, 10, 25 and 17 are all chasing a ball around at soccer. And that doesn’t even count the guys at adventure, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, kayaking, riflery, skin diving or track! Man, I wish I was a camper.
    At lunch we’ll be dining on oven roasted pork, corn soufflé, mashed potatoes, tomato, onion and cucumber salad and cream puffs for dessert. Y.U.M. And if that isn’t delicious enough, the guys will have tater tot casserole (a camper favorite) for supper.
    And on that note…

    I ❤ CH // tracy b.
    P.S. I’m working on uploading the cabin photos. We are missing a few of the Senior cabins, but I might just go ahead and get up there what we have.
  6. CH…where the livin' is easy

    As we ease into the home stretch of Camp, the guys are out enjoying activities, making the most of their free time and really solidifying friendships. These last two weeks of camp are bittersweet. But we really try and savor each moment from here on out. There’s an incredible wind coming up from the south, warm and lovely.
    Our oldest campers all go on a “big trip” at Highlands, and there are lots of guys coming in and out in the coming days. The first hiking trip to Pictured Rocks left yesterday, and the first of two sailing trips on Lake Superior and the canoe trip in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota leave today. Our tripping program has a long history at Highlands, in fact you can read more about it on the Camp Highlands Archives. Each division has a trip that’s geared toward the age group. The Cubs go on an overnight, the Colts have a three day canoe trip and the Juniors take a three or four day hiking trip. By the time a boy is a Senior, he gets to chose from several amazing trips we offer. This year we’ve introduced *another* awesome trip – kayaking on the Namekagon River in northwest Wisconsin. Jealous!
    There’s an easiness about the days right now. A good portion of the older guys are out of camp, so the little guys have extra opportunities at skiing, shooting at riflery, and more. They rule camp right now!
    Today’s menu doesn’t disappoint! Lasagna for lunch and soup and sandwiches for supper. Stay tuned in the coming days for a great interview with head chef Lois Craig who’s been keeping our bellies full for 24 summers. Now that is a legacy!
    Remember, camp is over on Saturday August 11 at 9:00 am. If you haven’t notified us of your plans for your son’s travel home, please let us know. If you have any questions about the Final Banquet, check out Andy’s information about the end of the term.
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.

  7. Camp Time

    As a mother of a not-so-sportsy kid, I enter each summer with a little trepidation. J is a great kid, of course, but he doesn’t long to toss the ball around the back yard at the end of the day. He rides his bike. Plays the piano. He’s a really good drawer. Here we are at Highlands, where the guys are out playing basketball and baseball and lacrosse. Soccer, football, tennis. Not his thing. We are now in *his* 7th week here at camp. Our summers are a little different than most campers. We get here two weeks before camp starts, and we stay after camp ends. It has the potential to get….long. I worry. Has the magic worn off?
    Yesterday he tracked me down. All smiles. “Mom, I dropped a ski. I couldn’t get my foot in the binding, but I was so close!” Seconds later, Ross walked by and said, “This kid! His hitting has improved SO much! He really worked hard on his swing AC and he was making great contact with the ball.” J was beaming. I got that prideful, swelley, prickly teary-eyed feeling. It wasn’t that I was so happy he’d hit the ball. It was seeing the look of accomplishment on his face. It was seeing this kid who can get down on himself for not being good at shooting hoops experience a true sense of pride.
    He has been working on that ski drop all summer. He’s been encouraged to keep plugging away at ACs in baseball. At summer camp at Highlands, the structures are in place for him to stick with things. He’s got a huge network of guys, both staff and campers, encouraging him to set goals, work hard and make progress. All that, and he has time. Real time to improve. Time that in our day-to-day in Gainesville – where we are rushing to this, rushing to that, making dinner, doing homework – just doesn’t exist.
    Maybe this summer isn’t too long. I’m going to slowly back away from my back-to-school shopping and I’m going to go sit in the boat and watch our campers have their successes, one Achievement Credit at a time. I’m going to watch these guys enjoy every last second of “camp time,” where they don’t rush, they make progress, they improve their skills, they have fun. I’m going to go watch them make small steps toward a better self. I’m going to go watch them be boys.
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.
    [slideshow elements=”10″] [image link=”http://www.camphighlands.com/wp/wp-content/themes/camp-highland-for-boys/images/blog072712/achievement10.jpg” caption=”Boys have success in everything from riflery to kayaking.”] [image link=”http://www.camphighlands.com/wp/wp-content/themes/camp-highland-for-boys/images/blog072712/achievement09.jpg” caption=”Adventure is a great place for the younger boys to gain confidence.”] [image link=”http://www.camphighlands.com/wp/wp-content/themes/camp-highland-for-boys/images/blog072712/achievement08.jpg” caption=”Working on ACs in baseball!”] [image link=”http://www.camphighlands.com/wp/wp-content/themes/camp-highland-for-boys/images/blog072712/achievement07.jpg” caption=”Working on ACs in baseball!”] [image link=”http://www.camphighlands.com/wp/wp-content/themes/camp-highland-for-boys/images/blog072712/achievement06.jpg” caption=”Working on ACs in baseball!”] [image link=”http://www.camphighlands.com/wp/wp-content/themes/camp-highland-for-boys/images/blog072712/achievement05.jpg” caption=”Working on ACs in baseball!”] [image link=”http://www.camphighlands.com/wp/wp-content/themes/camp-highland-for-boys/images/blog072712/achievement04.jpg” caption=”Working on ACs in baseball!”] [image link=”http://www.camphighlands.com/wp/wp-content/themes/camp-highland-for-boys/images/blog072712/achievement03.jpg” caption=”Working on ACs in baseball!”] [image link=”http://www.camphighlands.com/wp/wp-content/themes/camp-highland-for-boys/images/blog072712/achievement02.jpg” caption=”…and football!”] [image link=”http://www.camphighlands.com/wp/wp-content/themes/camp-highland-for-boys/images/blog072712/achievement01.jpg”  caption=”…and football!”] [/slideshow]

  8. A note from Director, Andy B.

    Greetings, Highlands Families!
    We are thrilled to have you as part of our Highlands family this summer! I trust you are keeping up with the goings on about camp through our pictures and blog, and I hope that your camper has written you to keep you updated. We try our best to get as many photos up on the site, and write as many posts as we can!
    The end of the term is quickly approaching and there are a few things we want to make you aware of.
    Our end-of-the-term festivities take place on Friday, August 10. At 3 p.m. we have an Army-Navy Water Carnival competition. This is always a goofy and fun way to catch a glimpse into camp life.
    At 6 pm we have a family picnic dinner followed by a fun evening program highlighting our summer together. We hope you can join us. Please email us the names of who will attend the picnic if you have not already RSVP’d to on your forms. We like to make name tags and we want to be sure to have enough cheesy potatoes to go around! At this point our Lodge cabins are all booked for the end of the season, but if you would like to come up for a visit while your boy is at camp, give Sharon a call at 715-542-2950 and she can help you out. We’d love to see you!
    Your boys are in great hands, with an outstanding staff whose first priority is to make sure you son is safe – physically and emotionally. Our next priority is to ensure your son has a great time at Highlands – all the while imparting the values of the Worthwhile Highlands man.
    Thank you so much for sharing your son with us. We are grateful that you believe that a summer spent at Highlands is a worthwhile investment. And if you’d really like to get into the Highlands spirit, consider joining us with your entire family for our Friends and Family Camp during the third week in August (the 11-18th). It’s a lot of fun for everyone! There is more information about it on the Friends+Family Camp page on the website. Check it out!
    And of course, as always, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a call here in the office at 715-542-3443.
    Andy Bachmann

  9. 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

  10. Just another day in paradise

    Me: “So how was your day?”
    Cubbie: “Good.”
    Me: “Oh yeah? What activities did you have?”
    Cubbie: “Crafts, Adventure, Canoeing, Riflery [pause] Actually, come to think of it, it was pretty awesome.”
    I’d say that sums it up. A day at Highlands is *pretty awesome* almost all the time. And on a gorgeous morning like this morning, it’s impossible to have a bad schedule. Throw an evening dip and skiing at free-time in there and I’d say you have perfection.

    Wow! What a lake! Makes me want to go water skiing!

    Check out this photo of the lake from this morning. Pure glass! Lucky cabins 23, 24, 17, 2, 8 and 10 will all kayak at some point today. Cabins 16, 3, 4 and 22 will hit some balls on the tennis courts. A group of six Seniors even went across the lake to play a round of golf at the beautiful Plum Lake Golf Course. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
    We’ve been extra busy in the camp office tying up all the loose ends from first term, so if we haven’t posted a photo of your favorite camper, stand by! We’ll be out taking more photos in the next couple days. Mike does a great job of getting all those faces eventually.
    This upcoming weekend is the Camp Highlands birthday. It’s my favorite day all summer. The main event  is the Army versus Navy Steeplechase, a two-hour, rip-roaring relay race all around camp. Each boy participates in a pre-assigned activity, cued by the baton being passed from runner to runner. Activities range from jumping into a hula-hoop from Tower Three, to canoeing all the way from Senior Row to the Star Lake portage, to a water boil (the peak of the excitement!).
    In the afternoon boys will look forward to the Senior Carnival, picnic supper and our world-famous Games on the Hill. To me, that spells hundreds of photo ops! If you are in the area, we’d love to see you. The Steeplechase starts at 9:15 a.m. and goes until 11:30 a.m. or so. The Carnival is at 2:30 p.m. and supper is at 6 p.m. You’ll believe it then, when I tell you that we are already deep in preparations for this weekend!
    And on that note…
    I ❤ CH // tracy b.
    P.S. Our Program Director just walked into the office and said, “Today is perfect. The temperature is perfect. Have you seen the lake? It’s glass.” And, if you know Craig, you’ll know he is not a man prone to hyperbole. It really is pretty sweet today.