Towering Pines Blog

But first . . .

Sitting at the table at lunch during pre-pre-camp (yes, it’s actually a thing), a catch phrase was thrown out that is the inspiration of this blog . . . “but first.”

As one can imagine there is a lot of physical maintenance that must be done to the facilities at both camps before the campers arrive.  We were discussing a rather challenging and fairly nasty project that Kevin and Scott were undertaking at Camp Woodland, and when I asked how things were coming along, Kevin said, “Well, it’s one of those ‘but first’ situations.  Yes, we need to fix the plumbing, ‘but first’ we have to do this, and before that, we have to do this, and we’ll have to do this before we do that, etc. etc. etc.”  The point being is before they could address the main problem, they had to do several other things first.  Would they have liked to avoid doing the “but first” things in order to finish the project faster, probably, “but then” it wouldn’t have solved the real issue. That would have created even bigger problems down the road.

Kevin shared with me that the phrase “but first” was coined back in the good ‘ol days by Mr. John Jordan.  Kevin was helping Mr. Jordan get a ladder out of the blue barn, but first in order to reach the ladder, they had to move the old green jeep out of the way. But the jeep wouldn’t start, so they needed to hook up a charger to the battery. However, the cord wouldn’t reach so they had to plug it into an extension cord.  But first they had to find an extension cord!

There were so many other instances, like the above examples, that came up during the summer, and each time it brought me back to the conversation that Kevin and I had.  But first . . . actually relates to so many things we do in all aspects of camp. A camper may want to get his “skipper” rank in sailing, but first he has to successfully pass through all the other levels in order to meet this lofty goal.  A guy may have a goal to shoot in the standing position in riflery, but first he needs to know how to shoot in prone and sitting positions.  Someone may want to end up with a really cool tie-dye shirt in crafts, but first he has to do all of the prep work in order to meet his goal.

A camper may want to be a 2nd year CIT (Counselor in Training), but first he needs to be a 1st year CIT so that he can learn the ropes and have the necessary experience to live in a cabin helping counselors with the younger campers.  A cabin might want to get the highest score of the week for cabin clean-up so that they get to take a trip to Cathy’s for ice cream.  But first, all of the cabinmates need to work together as a team daily to complete each of the cabin clean-up chores so that the cabin gets the highest score possible during cabin inspection for the entire week!

Before Drinka can make the jambalaya, she first has to prepare the roux.  Before she prepares the roux, there is a chopping party the night before to make sure all of the necessary ingredients are ready to add in once the roux is ready.  If a step is skipped in this process, well, then it won’t taste like the amazing camp favorite that it has become over the years!  In fact, if Drinka skips a step in the process, then it might not end up being jambalaya at all which would definitely not be a good thing! Does everyone want to be first in line to be served the delicious jambalaya?!!  Of course, but first each cabin has to wait for the steward to tell them it’s their turn to go to the buffet line.

What does the “but first” concept really teach us?  Many things . . . such as:

  • There are usually steps in the process of finishing a task, and following these steps almost always provides a better chance at success in completing a project well.
  • In order to reach goals, it takes time and effort. In order to reach the final goal, smaller goals often need to be set. In meeting each of these, we can then proceed to the next one, which will eventually assist us in reaching that final goal.
  • We learn from the process, and sometimes we have to take a step back in order to take the next step forward. (And we often learn from our mistakes!)
  • Patience!!!

We are very much looking forward to Summer of  2024, but first we have a lot of planning and preparing to do!!  And we’d LOVE for your son(s) to join us next summer at camp, but first you need to make sure they are registered!  If you or someone you know would like to register for Summer of 2024, you can go to this link:  REGISTER for 2024

See ya soon, fellas!!

Angie Ziller

  • Camp Mom at TP
  • Leadership Staff at TP/Office Manager
  • Marketing TP/Woodland
  • Leadership Team TP/Woodland
  • Assistant Waterfront Director at Woodland
  • Counselor at Woodland
  • “Building in our hearts fond memories, Towering Pines for you.”