Towering Pines Blog

Happy New Year from Camp!


Almost warm enough for instructional swim, but that was in November…

It’s that time of year when the world is chilly and the summer seems so far away. While it can be hard to imagine going outside without a coat on or diving into liquid water on a hot day, it can help to look back on the good times and ahead to the good times to come! The days are short and the school days are long, but hey, remember leaves? I sure do.

January-Cabin 3-3

Happy New year from Menomonee

January is a busy time. We barrel into the new year and start thinking about all the ways in which we want to improve on ourselves and the world around us (if you ever stopped!). And, yes, the summer seems far away, but any good change comes out of careful planning. One of the problems with New Year’s Resolutions, after all, is that so many of them seem to disappear once February starts! To fight that, I suggest a few things: 1) focus on things that you can change and 2) think about what those changes will look like once the snow thaws and those leaves are bursting forth in northern Wisconsin!

We are deeply in-tune with change, at camp. Not just change for change’s sake, though. So many changes are pursued based on the idea that there is something wrong with ourselves or the world. At camp, that very core idea is different. It isn’t change we are after, but growth. That may seem like a subtle difference, but it matters!

Change is only meaningful if it is positive change. Sometimes that means recognizing what is valuable about what is already there. Every little boy has beauty to them, inside and out. They are adventurous, bold, silly, loving, vulnerable, and (simply put) full of life. All of those qualities can be good, with the right application, and they can be troublesome, in the wrong time and place. All that energy and joy in those little boys needs to be harnessed and carefully managed, but not extinguished. That is the kind of work that camp is so good for. They aren’t broken, but they are growing fast and they need help to make that a meaningful change. Jeff says, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Grandpa had a more colorful way of saying it, but I’ll spare you that one. At any rate, the first step is to recognize when something isn’t broken, you are just expecting too much or too little from it. If you are expecting a little boy to want to sit still…well, you might have better luck changing a lightbulb with a hammer, or convincing a bean to grow into a sunflower.

Patience, my friend. Somewhere under all that snow my garden will grow...

Patience, my friend. Somewhere under all that snow my garden will grow…

Now, as for number 2: if you can’t see where that change will take you, how it will make your life better, then you’d better think a little bit harder. If I don’t sprout my squash in April, I may not have and veggies by the end of the summer. If I don’t swim my laps now, diving for moorings will be that much harder when the ice on Lake Nokomis does recede. If we don’t think about how the things happening to our children today make the summer extra special, then they might miss out on part of that specialness.

Boys can be a leaf on a stream sometimes, drawn along with all the bumps and ripples. Other times they might feel like a seed, buried under the snow, just waiting for the sun to shine on them again. Being patient until the sun does come back can be the hardest part. It’s hard for grown-ups, too! That’s why the gym is a lot less crowded in February than on January 2nd. But waiting for the sun doesn’t mean that there is nothing to be done in the meantime. There are many steps between being a seed and sprouting into something big and beautiful and green. Visualize what you want to be when the summer comes and take the steps now to make that happen. That’s what new year’s resolutions are all about, and that’s why they are so hard.

It’s cold now. We have blizzards and snow and sub-zero temperatures. But without all that snow, the lake would be a sand pit, come summertime. I, for one, am already thinking about those treefrogs and fireflies singing away the summer nights and thanking January for making June all the more beautiful.

Though I admit, it is hard to see right now...

Though I admit, it is hard to see right now…