History

Tradition of being a better man

  • Early Days of Camp | 1904-1958

    It was Harry O. Gilette, University of Chicago Laboratory School Headmaster, who brought ten boys from the city to a remote point on Plum Lake in the North Woods of Wisconsin for a summer in the wilderness in 1904. But it was under the ownership and direction of Dr. William J. Monilaw from 1914 to 1959 that Highlands really grew and flourished. He believed that character building should be the underlying purpose of a Highlands summer. His legacy lives on today in the Doc Monilaw Dining Room. There you will see the 17 honor camper qualities posted proudly on the wall: Pep, Perseverance, Clean Thoughts/Clean Speech, Honesty, Good Manners, Cleanliness, Dependable, Camp Spirit, Sportsmanship, Responsibility, Generosity, Initiative, Self-control, Consideration, Willingness/Helpfulness, Leadership and Good Fellowship.

  • The Admirals | 1959–1963

    When Doc’s health began to fail, six long-time educators and Highlands counselors pooled their money and talents and formed a corporation to assure that Camp Highlands would live on. Doc’s partner, Norvil Beeman became the director while Bob Mannschott, Tony Anthony, Ralph Magor, Unk Nelson, and Orville “Snow” Nothdurft completed the Board of Directors.

    It was Bob Mannschott who brought the saying, “I’m Third” to Highlands. I’m Third became the camp motto and still today is a wonderfully simple way to remind all of us to keep God (however known to you) first, Others second, and I’m Third.

    In 1963 Mike Bachmann purchased Norvil Beeman’s interest in the camp. Mike took over the camper recruiting and staff selection in his role as assistant director. Bob Mannschott became the summer director.

  • Mike and Sharon Bachmann | 1963–2007

    In 1963 Mike Bachmann purchased Norvil Beeman’s interest in the camp. Mike took over the camper recruiting and staff selection in his role as assistant director. Bob Mannschott became the summer director.

    After Bob Mannschott passed away 1969, Mike and Sharon Bachmann took over the full directorship of Camp. A key component of Mike’s leadership was his belief that every boy can have success at Highlands. He held to the original idea that Highlands is a Northwoods boys camp. A place where each boy can learn a true appreciation of the beauty of the natural world that surrounds him at camp. He believed that the various activities are the tools the counseling staff uses to help build character. At Camp Highlands, it really does matter how you play the game. It was Mike who brought our philosophy of the Worthwhile Man to Highlands. In 2007, Mike’s son, Andy Bachmann moved from assistant director to co-director. Mike passed away in September of 2014, at which time Andy took over the role of Director.

  • Andy and Tracy Bachmann | 2007-present

    Andy Bachmann has been at Camp Highlands every summer of his entire life. A third-generation Highlands man, he and his wife Tracy now oversee camp operations and run the summer program. Andy was raised on Highlands, and Tracy knew she had a good catch when she first overheard Andy reading to his campers at night, many years ago. Andy and Tracy are surrounded by an exceptional group of Highlands men and women who ensure that the core qualities and traditions of Highlands continue, including Sharon Bachmann and her sisters Jan Freeland and Jill Wright. Camp Highlands has been an integral part of our family since 1941. We look forward to sharing it with yours!

  • Learn More about Highlands

    Check out the Highlands Archives to find out more about our rich history on Plum Lake in northern Wisconsin.

    Archives

  • You want more history!

    Tim Bachmann, our camp historian, has produced four books on the topic of Highlands and Mike Bachmann. They’re filled with compelling stories and anecdotes and beautiful photography. They make great gifts for your favorite Highlands fan!

    Shop Books