Towering Pines Blog

Happy New Year from Cabin 3 (Menominee)

"          "Happy New Year  – Where I THRIVE in 1-5!

Camp in the Off-Season by Matthew J Dellinger

The wind was howling. The trees groaned and creaked, strained by the raging north winds. All around me was evidence that the weather can torment us on a whim. Icicles formed on my beard as my breath and lungs froze.  I don’t particularly enjoy cold weather, but on this day I was not bothered. In this place I felt more content than in my bed at home.

These conditions I describe are not a polar expedition, but a trek through Camp Towering Pines for a December grouse hunt. Like so many places at camp, the Lake Nokomis trail provides a welcoming envelope of primitive beauty, even in sub-zero weather. This contrast, my warm feelings verses the bitter conditions; stands out in my mind when I think of camp. Why would I lament the cold as I walk from the parking lot to my office yet rejoice at the chance for a grueling hike around lost lake in two feet of snow?


If you’ve been to camp, you likely know the answer. It is the same reason that a camper cannot wait for his cabin’s turn to endure 24 hours of the great outdoors on the canoe trip. We humans crave the richness of life-experience. Towering Pines provides this in so many ways. This is why a six week session of camp feels like its own era.  One returns to school from a summer at camp as one returns from a magical land where time passes more slowly.  It’s like having an extra year in your life. My friends who stayed home would casually say: “Oh, you’re back already? Where did the summer go?” I always felt, no matter how rough the summer, that these friends had missed out big-time.


Some people are quite puzzled by my enthusiasm for camp experiences. All I can say is “it’s a camp thing”. Just as a child must learn a second language at an early age, one must also learn certain aspects of human existence at an early age… or live without those extra years of wisdom.


This wisdom from camp may be different for all of us. For some kids it’s the solidarity of teamwork, sportsmanship, and cabin groups. Other campers are exposed to knowledge from an international staff that would never be available to them in other situations.  Many campers discover skills they never thought possible (frog-catching is a skill!?).  Furthermore, campers challenge their bodies at camp.  For example, the lake waters at instructional swim boosts their metabolism and hardens their will-power by teaching them to sometimes do what they would rather not do. These experiences and many more fill me with pride to have participated at every level of such a process. 


I saw three grouse that cold day on Nokomis but did not shoot them. I didn’t mind, the chase was fair, the weather was beautiful, and I had time to appreciate that part of me from which I derive so much pride. At Towering Pines everybody plays and everybody wins… even in the off-season.

photos taken by Matthew J Dellinger