Towering Pines Blog

Gardens and Fireworks



We are well into the first session already! Needless to say, camp is a bit more lively than it was when I wrote my last post. In that time, Towering Pines has gained more tenants than just me, and the whole place is buzzing with activity. Camp is well underway and my garden is growing.

IMG_5789When I got here, almost a month ago, one of my first projects was to put in a garden outside Cabin 1. I’ve always had a passion for growing things and finally acted on my urge to plant a garden of my own, so one day I did some research, dug up a plot and planted some seeds. Now, three weeks later, my garden is full of life.

I mentioned in my last post that being at camp early is a bit like watching a garden grow. That seems more true as the season rolls on. The cabin groups – like my mounds of squash, corn and beans – start out as a bit of a mystery. Some seeds sprout sooner than others, some need more water, some more sun, not all of them stick around for the full season, but they all stretch out under the towering pines at some point. Recognizing that every seed has different characteristics contributes to the success of the garden.

The Three Sisters, just beginning to sprout.

The Three Sisters, just beginning to sprout.

Part of my crop is laid out in what is called by the Algonquin a Three Sisters garden. Squash, beans, and corn are planted in mounds in such a way that their growth compliments one another: The squash shades and retains water, the beans grow on corn and provide support, and the root systems fix nitrogen in the soil for future cultivation. This combination is so effective that it kept our colonial ancestors alive in the early years of European expansion in the Americas.

We can think of cabin unity in the same way. It isn’t enough to just throw a bunch of seeds in the ground and it isn’t enough to just throw a bunch of kids together in a cabin. You need to put them together in a way that they can get along and support each other’s growth. Grandpa used to say that if you fertilize the grass, you don’t have to pull the weeds. This may not be the most accurate garden analogy, but it bears consideration that a little preparation, a little foresight, and careful management of camper groups can go a long way and make things easier in the long run.



Sometimes, cabin unity means knowing when to run away from each other.

The theme of the first week is cabin unity and, like my garden, I think there is some complimentary growth occurring here at camp. It falls upon the staff to continually monitor and maintain the cabin groups and engender productive growth. Fertilized or not, a garden will get weedy if left untended. Cabin activities, new friends, and special events have provided the nourishment to these groups and we are building our community.

The first week culminated in the Fourth of July campfire with Camp Woodland. The boys’ unity and spirit shone through in their excellent skits and challenges and, as always, the night was concluded with a vibrant fireworks display. So, here are some fireworks photos.

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Well, we are keeping busy and active, all of us. I feel good about the weeks to come, both for my garden and this fine crop of boys we have this year. Do stop by again to see how my garden fairs! I promise I will post more than just pictures of bean plants.