Towering Pines Blog

Camp . . . a vacation or an opportunity of a lifetime?

Sometimes when I tell people that I’m leaving for the majority of the summer to work at Towering Pines, they look at me and say, “Wow, it must be nice to go on vacation at camp for the summer.”  Unless you have lived at camp yourself, there are some misconceptions about what “camp” really is.  I can’t deny that camp sounds like an amazing place.  I mean, after all, is camp fun?  MOST DEFINITELY!!!  Is camp a beautiful place to get away?  Yes, it’s incredibly gorgeous in the north woods of Wisconsin.  Do we get to be with our friends at camp?  Well, yes, we do.  In fact, camp friends are actually more like family.  These are all components that might make it seem like when we’re at camp, it’s just a lengthened vacation of sorts.  So, let’s take a deeper look at what camp is really all about.

Camp is a place where boys become men.  This doesn’t happen magically–there’s definitely a method to the madness.  The counselors and staff put their hearts and souls into each and every day at TP.  They evaluate both the individual needs of campers and the group needs of the cabins.  There are developmental stages that are addressed over the six weeks at camp including:  Cabin Unity, Community, Challenge, Trust, Sportsmanship and Camp Spirit.  This development continues to be strengthened and enhanced as a camper comes back summer after summer.  They truly learn to acclimate, accelerate and celebrate both as individuals and as a camp community.

All of these skills and developmental milestones promote leadership development in an environment that is extremely unique. I had an opportunity to interview one of our TP counselors, Aaron Zaga, who shared his perspective on why camp should be valued as a wonderful opportunity to learn lessons that transfer into the “real world.”  Aaron just spent his 13th summer at Towering Pines. He started out as a camper, went through the CIT (Counselor in Training) Program and then came back to work as a counselor.  

The following is what Aaron shared with me:

When you first come here as a camper, you learn the great TP traditions.  As you become older and more mature, you become part of the traditions and begin to take more and more responsibility in camp life. While a CIT, you start making some of your own decisions and also become a role model for the younger campers.  Camp is really all about making decisions. It’s really important that you do something that you are passionate about and camp teaches that to you as well. 

Also, I think camp taught me something extremely important — that you want to be surrounded by people whom you trust.  Your cabin mates become such an integral part of your life. As I started my own company, this became so apparent to me.  Having a company is very similar because you need to be able to trust the people within your company.

You wake up each morning and you work with these people and spend a large portion of your day together just like you do with your cabin mates. Sometimes in the cabin there will be difficulties and you have to figure out how to solve these.  Camp taught me how to do this, and this transferred into solving problems in my company as well.  We must work together to find the best solutions. 

Another thing about camp that’s really important is that you truly get to know the people.  One of my former cabin mates gave me a lot of encouragement to start my own company.  Even though I was only 23, he said “Go for it!!  You can do this!!”  I sat down with a couple of my other camp friends too and told them my idea, and they were totally supportive.  Knowing that my former cabin mates believed in me was huge.  Camp provides this amazing opportunity to be with people from a lot of different cultures and helps you learn so much.  It’s the most rich and valuable thing.  These people have a different point of view and once you’re here, you listen to their stories, and you gain so much information.

In college I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I thought I would be in sports journalism or sports marketing.  Camp helped me a lot because I had time each summer to relax and clear my mind. This break from the normal busyness of life to come to camp gives you time to think, be yourself and figure things out.  Also, English has opened many doors for me.  You learn it within a natural environment where you actually use it everyday.  This helped me as I developed my website for my company and to communicate with others in the world.

If I hadn’t been at camp, I wouldn’t have my company. Camp has changed everything in my life.  

**A special thank you to Aaron for sharing his insights and taking the time to let me interview him.**

Angie Wenzl Ziller

  • Mom at TP
  • Office Manager/Leadership Staff at TP
  • Marketing TP/Woodland
  • Assistant Waterfront Director at Woodland
  • Counselor at Woodland