Towering Pines Blog

Nature abounds and surrounds at Towering Pines . . .

Autumn has gradually taken over the warm summer days in our Northwoods home.  There is great beauty right now in the gorgeous fall colors, and many changes are happening in the forest.  We are so incredibly fortunate to spend our summers living in the Northwoods where nature is such an integral part of our daily lives. I believe that it’s important to celebrate this gift and acknowledge it’s significance at camp.


Our boys have a plethora of opportunities to engage in the beauty of nature each summer.  Some of these moments are as simple as walking in the white pines on the way to an activity, hearing the wind blow through the trees as they fall asleep in their bunk, listening to the waves of Nokomis lap against the dock while standing at assembly or smelling the fresh scent of the forest after a light TP dew.  

And then there are more purposeful times where nature is not only embraced but also explored.  Cabin canoe trips provide many hours on the water, time sitting by the campfire with friends as well as sleeping in tents in the woods. Zoo class goes on scavenger hunts navigating through the foliage searching for various plants and finding a variety of insects and animals that live in our area.  In addition, campers create environments in terrariums so that they can observe plants and animals in tiny self-sustaining environments.  Boys also care for the bunny pen and turtle pond learning what it takes to maintain quality of life for creatures.  

There are adventures taken by the zoo class as well as during evening workshops to explore the Moss Garden and Lost Lake.  How incredible is it that we have an ecosystem right at camp that is so unique and that continues to evolve before our very eyes!!!  In addition, boys navigate trails both at TP and Woodland while biking and horseback riding.  

In conjunction with this natural exploration of the outdoors is also the component of education that has long been a tradition of Towering Pines.  We have the benefit of the years of knowledge that were shared with us by Buck Lone Eagle.  Buck is no longer with us; however, he passed on important information that has become integrated into our way of life at camp. He worked at TP for many years and established many of the Native American traditions that we still follow today such as the selection of the “Chief” and “Medicine Man” from each cabin.  Buck found and created the Seeking Place where we hold vespers and also the Indian Bowl where we have the Chief’s Campfire.

On the last vespers of the summer Cabin 5, Mohawk, discusses the value and importance of nature.  Incorporated into this final vespers is the poem that Buck wrote, and we continue to share his message with campers, counselors, staff and parents.  Buck had an exceptional way of incorporating the necessity and value of nature with that of friendship.  This is woven throughout our camp life every summer at Towering Pines.


“Friendly Tree” by Buck Lone Eagle

In the woods one day I lost my way, so I wandered until darkness came.

Then beneath a tree was the place for me, for it had started to rain.

But there on the ground ‘neath the branches, I found, it was sort of cozy and warm,

For that sturdy tree protected me from the darkness and the storm.

With its branches all ‘round nearly touching the ground, it spread over me just like a fan;

And while my campfire burned that night, I learned that a tree was a friend of man.

For I lost my way, and I had to stay, there the dark night to spend;

Yet, I wasn’t alone, for, though I wasn’t at home, I was close to the side of a friend.

At first I just lay there in that cozy lair and inhaled the sweet pine-scented breeze.

Then I looked on high at the dark, drizzling sky and thanked God that he’d given us trees.

Well, time went along and soon came the dawn and the break of another day;

So I thanked the tree for protecting me, and started along my way.

But as I glanced down at the soggy ground near the place that had been my bed,

I saw a wee tiny tree looking up at me and nodding its dark green head.

And it seemed to say in its simple way: “Don’t go and leave me here.

It won’t be safe, for I’m just a waif, and the winter is drawing near.”

Well, at first I laughed, I must be daft; but still it was a friend in need.

And as I turned to go my heart said no, and so finally I gave heed.

Then I knelt once more to the forest floor, and I dug up that tiny tree;

And for half a day on my arm it lay, for I took it along with me.

Now to you who live this tree I give, this waif of the Northern wood.

It’s just a baby now, but I hope somehow, it will do our friendship good.

And may our friendship last until the time is past when this tree is a hundred feet tall,

For of all the host of the friends that I boast, I think you are the best of all.

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See ya soon fellas,

Angie Wenzl Ziller

  • Mom at TP
  • Leadership Staff at TP/Office Manager
  • Marketing TP/Woodland
  • Assistant Waterfront Director at Woodland
  • Counselor at Woodland
  • “This is goodnight and not goodbye.”