Towering Pines Blog

A Journey of Choices

As I sit here in my camp “office,” which by the way has an amazing view of Lake Nokomis, I reflect on the decision to come back to camp after a 25-year-hiatus.  The decision was a no-brainer for me and my husband because as alumni counselors of Woodland and TP, we already knew what amazing adventures lie ahead for the summer.  However, my decision to come back to camp also meant that we were making the “choice” for our 2 youngest children to come with me.  My son, Isaac, let us know for several months that going to camp was NOT his “choice!!”

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What Isaac didn’t realize is that although going to camp wasn’t his choice, by doing so, he was going to partake in a journey of choices all his own.  We’ve been at camp now for a little over 2 weeks.  I realize now more than ever, that one of the remarkable things about camp is that it presents a unique environment in which campers get to make many choices for themselves.  The best part is that they get to do so within a structured and safe environment.

Learning to ride a bike takes practice, and before taking off on one’s own, you start out with training wheels first.  The cool part is that camp provides the training wheels!!  There are great counselors and administrative staff to help guide the campers along the way.  Making mistakes is expected, but our job is to help them learn from their mistakes and encourage them to keep trying!!

IMG_0482Whereas at school someone decides what classes they take, campers get to decide what activities and workshops they take.  For some kids this is the first time they get to make selections about what they want to do.  Do they want to venture out and try something new like sailing or do they want to play it safe and stick with fishing? Maybe a camper will pick something unique that he hasn’t even heard of before like Lacrosse or, perhaps, try learning magic tricks. The opportunities are immense!


Campers also make choices about setting goals.  How far do I want to push myself in archery or riding?  Do I feel motivated by my peers to move on to that next level or do I want to step back and keep practicing skills I’m already comfortable with before taking that leap?  One of the campers shared with me today that he tried cantering on the horse, and it made him a bit nervous.  Jerry, the riding director, told this young man not to worry because they would spend plenty of time practicing cantering little by little, and before this camper knows it, he will do it on his own without any fear.  This is another great example of the training wheels I mentioned earlier.

In addition there are choices that a camper makes daily about developing their own character traits.  Do I go and ask that boy who is sitting alone to join us?  Should I give my turn for wake-boarding to someone else and wait patiently until tomorrow for another opportunity?  Will I be honest with my cabin that I chose not to do my job today and that’s why our cabin inspection score was a little lower than usual?

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As you can see, camp is full of opportunities for campers to make choices.  I believe that if these young boys and young men learn to make to make choices now, they will have the skills necessary to make the larger more significant ones later in life when they no longer have their training wheels upon which to rely.  We are grateful that you made the CHOICE to send your son to Towering Pines!!!

Angie Wenzl Ziller

Camp Mom at TP
Office Manager at TP
Marketing TP/Woodland
Assistant Waterfront Director at Woodland
Counselor at Woodland