Towering Pines Blog

No Such Deficit

One inescapable fact about life at Towering Pines is its immersive outdoor quality. Around here the complex forces of nature, the rich textures and tones of natural beauty, are our daily companion. In every direction, there is something wonderful, something that can fill you with wonder, waiting to be noticed. Lakes glistening from the sun’s rays, angular rocks covered with moss, tiny insects scurrying across the ground, ancient pine trees towering above— we are surrounded by the mysteries of the natural world.

The weather, too! We’re submerged in the morning fog (sometimes making the lake disappear), never far from the rain, feeling the sun and the wind as they appear. Sometimes we’re hot, other times cold and damp. We’re watching clouds blend with sunsets or providing an ever-changing backdrop to the sailors as they make their way across Nokomis. We marvel when a thunderstorm rolls through. If we’re lucky, when the sun is out in one direction and a drizzle falls in the other, we just might be graced with an unexpected rainbow overhead.



We cherish this outdoor living at Towering Pines, fostering this organic feeling whenever we can. Instead of shielding ourselves from nature, we want our days to include it, hoping to celebrate every rich opportunity it might provide. That’s why at TP we don’t level every stepping stone, smooth every surface, or eradicate every insect we see. We love the “refreshing” cool water of Lake Nokomis and Clear Lake. We welcome the eagles who choose the sky above our camp to spread their wings. How different this is from life in the “civilized” world where it’s more common for kids to suffer from a degree of “Nature Deficit Disorder,” as Richard Louv has put it. At Towering Pines, there’s no such deficit.

There are several opportunities for a close experience with nature throughout the camp day. First period starts off with a Zoo Class where campers care for and learn about some of the other inhabitants that share our vast acreage. The aquarium is a temporary home for various visitors such as snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles, snails, etc. We also have some rabbits “on loan” from a local neighbor that love the attention we give them shortly after breakfast (and some yummy carrots compliments of Drinka!).



Riding a horse is another opportunity that complements a close experience with nature by introducing a relationship with a living creature. During the afternoon riding period, boys are meeting horses, touching them, talking to them, caring for them, and yes, riding them. They’re using subtle, and some not so subtle, movements to communicate how the horse should behave. With the proper coaching, this allows the riders to change the horse’s gait, slower or faster. It’s a real thrill to build confidence with these large animals, trusting them, and cooperating with them to enjoy moving around the riding ring together.

One of our longtime campers and counselors recently led a group to “Lost Lake” (see opening photo). Towering Pines is fortunate to have this hidden gem on our very own property. The hike to Lost Lake in itself is an adventure as one must follow trails that twist and turn and expose the secrets of the forest that only make themselves known a few times each summer to those curious enough to make the trek. The “tall tales” that can be told during and after the expedition make the journey just as interesting and fun as the destination. Because of the distortion of time and location for most young folks, for all the campers know, they may think they are MILES from camp. Maybe even in a different state (when actually, they are still on TP land)! I would say not only is there no such deficit, but rather, we have a surplus of nature here at TP. And, we love to bask in its ever-changing beauty every single day!

Reference: RBC by J Carter, 7-13-21