Category Archives: tripping

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. Take a trip


    From sailing to hiking to kayak or canoeing trips. Highlands trips teach boys self-confidence, appreciation of the natural world and life skills they will take with them through all the days of their lives.

    “We put out more trips this week than [other camp that shall remain nameless] does all summer.” –Craig Ericksen, Program Director.
    Editor’s note: This was said not as a slight on another camp. Craig was just stating a fact!
    Sometimes I stand back and watch in awe as our Program Director, Craig Ericksen works his magic. It’s no easy feat making camp run as smoothly as it does. Craig keeps track of who is on their day off, who is teaching what activity, who is cleaning the bathrooms, who lifeguards at 4:30 swim, who is working in the kitchen, who is driving out what trips, who is ON trips and where our campers will be scheduled for their activities (keeping their activity requests as a high priority). It takes a special brain to manipulate all that data.
    So in a week like this one, where we have six senior campers and three staff canoeing the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, eight campers and four staff hiking Isle Royale (from one of the island to the other), seven campers and two staff hiking from one end of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to the other, one junior cabin canoeing our local lakes, another hiking the Porcupine Mountains AND four campers and two staff sailing through the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, I marvel at his wizardry. Did I mention that HE is one of the staff members sailing on Lake Superior? Oh, and tomorrow we’ll send out four more trips!
    Meanwhile we have those of us in camp fully assigned and cared for, scheduled and covered for a regular day in the life at camp.
    Why do we inflict this kind of pressure on ourselves? Because we’re Highlands, of course.
    Our cabins are about as rustic as you can get. We have no screens on our windows, no electricity, and the closest running water is about 20 yards away. Yet these four wooden walls become our second home away from home – and when we hit the trails and the lakes we appreciate even more how little we truly need to be content and cared for. Suddenly our rustic cabins seem like the Ritz!
    Our tripping program has been part of our fabric since our inception. We believe it is important for our campers to experience the joy and wonder of nature; and learn the skills required to care for themselves and the wilderness around us. That is why we inflict the high level of scheduling madness upon ourselves that we do. Because we believe that the men of Highlands are better men for the wilderness experiences we offer. We believe that the challenges one faces out on the trail are character-shaping opportunities that help prove to ourselves that if we set our minds to something, we can accomplish it. It also happens to be a ton of fun.
    Thank you, Craig Ericksen, for your ability to help us deliver the Worthwhile experiences we do.

  3. Trippin' into week two

    Hey Highlands fans! First, an apology on no blog post until now. I hope you have all been thoroughly digesting the many great photos in the gallery (thank you Mike Bachmann) in the absence of a written update. Enough apologies and on to the news! Today is HOT. Hazy and sweaty. In fact the office assistant, Sally Glowiack just said, “Last week we needed a heater and this week we need a fan.” Indeed. While it was cool last week, the boys hardly seemed to notice. They happily skied, canoed, played soccer and all that other stuff that boys do at camp. Cabins 2, 4, 5, 7 (basically all the Seniors not on trips!) and cabins 23 and 25 all got to enjoy canoeing today. Free swim was very popular today at free time! Cabins 21, 22, 23 and 24 channeled their inner Katniss today at archery.


    Tripping is a blast at Camp Highlands!

    This is the height of tripping season here at camp – about 30 boys are out on trips right now. Cabins 14 and 12 just set out for their three day hike in the Porcupine Mountains this morning. I heard from one of the counselors that their camp site tonight is really fabulous. In fact, a million years ago before Andy and I had kids, he took me hiking up there and we lounged on large flat river rocks while the water flowed around us at the exact camp site where your kiddos will be spending the night! That’s quite a reward after their nine mile hike the boys were looking down the barrel at this morning! Cabins 15 and 17 from the Colt division just set off on their three day canoe trip on local waters. Folks, if I could sneak out of camp for three days, this is the trip I’d want to do. The boys paddle on a local chain of lakes and learn how to make double decker PB&J pita sandwiches (at least that’s what my kid learned to do on that trip)! They swing on a rope swing and have a generally fabulous time. We hope it continues to stay nice and dry for them! Yesterday Highlands boys enjoyed some friendly competition with a neighboring camp, Red Arrow. Our Colts won soccer 1-0 and our Seniors basketball team gave a solid showing, to end in an unfortunate loss. Last night your boys enjoyed their first of three Sunday Night Sings. Sing followed open activities all afternoon, where boys chose their favorite activity. Also, back by popular demand are Pinewood Derby Cars! Fifty boys will craft their cars over the coming weeks and then compete in some serious racing toward the end of camp. For lunch today? Chicken tenders. Lois reports that the boys ate 350+ and would have gladly eaten more. You’ve gotta love it.   Honestly, I wish I was a camper most days˜Ñ. And on that note… I ❤ CH // tracy b.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.