Towering Pines Blog

Learning tolerance . . .

I saw something at camp a few days ago that really impacted me.  It was one of those moments where you stop, look back and think to yourself, “Did that really just happen?”  At first I kept walking and, honestly, didn’t think too much of it.  But then over the next hour, the image just continued to invade my thoughts, and I came to the realization that I had witnessed something BIG, not in size, but in meaning.

I happened to be walking by a holding area for one of the cabins right before dinner time.  A holding area is a location where each cabin meets throughout the day when they need to wait for another event or activity.  It allows time for counselors to account for all of their campers, and also gives cabinmates a chance to regroup and hang out until it’s time to move on to another activity.  Often times campers will talk about their day, what happened at an activity, or maybe they’ll play a game while they’re waiting.

This particular evening, this cabin was at their holding area, and they were awaiting the departure of one of their fellow cabin members.  He was leaving at the 4-week mark, and so they were all getting ready to say their “goodbyes.” I overheard one of the counselors recommend to all of the boys that they should shake the hand of the camper who was departing, look him directly in the eye and tell him “goodbye.” Not ten seconds later the camper who was leaving walked up to his cabinmates preparing to say goodbye.  What happened next was so awesome—a young man who is probably the quietest and shyest member of the cabin (from an outside perspective)—walked right up to this boy and did exactly what the counselor had requested.  He shook the boy’s hand firmly and genuinely, looked directly at him and said his goodbye.

Maybe to someone else this whole episode might seem trivial.  However, as a “camp mom” at Towering PInes,” I view it as one of those “small” incidental moments which has the potential to have GREAT impact later in life.  This particular cabin had some challenging moments this summer.  There were a lot of very strong personalities in this group, and they didn’t always get along.  The counselors had to work really hard to bring these boys together so that they could learn some extremely important skills about cooperation, respect and tolerance.

“Practice forgiveness, love, and tolerance today, so when it’s difficult you will have experience.”

— Lisa Villa Prosen

What these counselors taught this cabin of boys is that regardless of past differences, beyond disagreements and misunderstandings, they are a family. These boys were presented with a unique opportunity to gain some experience in practicing tolerance.

It will take many other teachable moments like this for most of them to make the connection that tolerance is the key to many human relationships.  And perhaps, later on in life, they will look back on their camp experiences and understand how invaluable the lessons they learned here really are.




Angie Wenzl Ziller

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