Towering Pines Blog

Finding comfort in your own shell . . .

Posted by on June 3, 2024

“World Turtle Day” was last week, and so I spent some time delving through photos of turtles that have blessed our presence at Towering Pines (TP).  Two of our core values at TP are “respect” and “responsibility” which include consideration of others and the environment.  This includes all of the aspects of nature that are a part of the northwoods in our summer home.

We want the boys to have as many opportunities as possible to explore and experience the unique world that surrounds them, but we also want them to preserve the natural habitat of the forests and marshlands in which we encounter.  In other words, we are guests in the home that the creatures and plants cohabitate all year round.  There is much to learn from co-existing in this ecosystem for the summer — just as there is much to learn from living amidst a group of people who come together from all different walks of life to spend several weeks growing as a community.

As I posted about “World Turtle Day,” I found a saying that resonated with me, “Try to be like the turtle — at ease in your own shell.”  — Bill Copeland

What a powerful message!  If we could all be at ease in our own shell, what would life be like?  And how does this relate to camp and the summer ahead?  I think one of the things about camp that I love the most is that it is a place where the campers and counselors can explore what being comfortable in their own shell means to them.  Doing this at camp is an amazing experience because people come together from different parts of the country and even other parts of the world.  We all come from various backgrounds and have had unique encounters and experiences that have formed the foundation of whom we are.

Camp provides these boys and young men the chance to learn about themselves through group living situations in their cabins.  They will get to to know their cabinmates through working together during cabin clean-up, spending meal times together, creating skits and cheers for campfire, and doing special activities on cabin nights.  The boys will begin to see themselves as both followers and leaders depending on the situation.  In addition, they’ll discover what is important to them, what battles they want to pick and when they are ok just going along with someone else’s choices. This is all part of becoming comfortable with whom they are amidst others.

Another area in which they’ll develop a better understanding of whom they are and becoming more at ease with this is through their personal activity choices each session. (There are 3 sessions throughout the full six-week program.)  Besides daily activities, there will also be opportunities for personal growth during evening activities and special events.  All of these components of camp involve skill development in several ways:  physical, social and emotional.

Campers may begin to realize that they want to try things that their friends aren’t interested in which can sometimes feel a little awkward or even create some anxiety.  There will be successes and failures as these young men learn new skills and come to terms with the fact that they are really good at certain things, but not so good at others.  Accepting this and continuing to persevere is a tremendous part of becoming comfortable in their own “shell.”  In addition, becoming self aware to the point that these fellas realize there is a fine balance between “giving up” and “choosing” to try something else because it’s a better fit for them.

Just as we want to respect the beauty of all the nature that is a part of our northwoods home, we also have a responsibility as humans to respect people and the characteristics that bring out their individuality.  Afterall, one of my co-counselors from many years ago at Camp Woodland (I must give credit to Alice Lurain for this!) would remind me every day (actually several times a day) that “Variety is the very spice of life!”  A little kindness goes a long way in appreciating that our differences are what create the wonderful world in which we live.

As we look ahead to “Opening New Doors in ’24” we hope that all of these boys will continue on their journey of personal growth and understanding of what being comfortable in their own shell means to them.  Like all other aspects of life, it’s a process, not a race. Very apropos since the inspiration of this blog began with turtles!  Often times slow and steady isn’t such a bad thing.

If you’d like for your son or daughter to be a part of our camp community this summer or know of a child who could benefit from the camp experience, you can register here:

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.”