Towering Pines Blog

Special Events SpiceThings Up!

The value of routine is something that camp always impresses upon us. We have many routines (cabin clean-up, assembly, meals, rest period, canteen, bedtime, etc.) at Towering Pines. These routines become traditions in themselves that campers can rely on day after day, week after week. The reason we have schedules and regular activities is because these give campers stability and a framework to build their experiences and skills upon. The boys can use this structure as a reference point from which to venture out. Once this foundation is in place, they are more open to challenging themselves with something new or different.

We treasure our routines here at camp, but deviating from the expected every so often is part of what makes these routines so valuable.  One way we do this at camp is by “spicing things up” with our special events.  Each Sunday there is a different special event which also has a theme.  The traditional special events at Towering Pines are:  Pirate Day, Frontier Day, Quest Day, TP Fair and Olympics (usually 2 days and depends on the schedule).  The CITs (Counselors in Training) assist in all preparations for these special events, and so having a theme helps them to use their creativity and leadership skills to plan games and activities centered around the theme.  These special events provide opportunities for campers to not only bond with their cabins, but to also participate on teams with campers of different ages and various peer groups.

Pirate Day is a popular event as it is a different experience from the daily routine altogether. Campers enjoy unscrambling clues to find the buried treasure.  You may hear lots of bilge (nonsense and foolish talk) as the boys spend their day exerting boundless amounts of energy playing and working together to find the buried treasure!!  Avast ye (Pay attention and check this out!) the booty (treasure) has been found!  There may be a few fellows seen hanging the jib (pouting a bit), but in the end these boys are all buckos (friends) even when they don’t find the coffer (treasure chest).  In the afternoon the camp is divided into red vs. blue teams for piratical games such as darts, trolley walk, water balloon toss and the cannon shoot.    At the end of the day, the boys are happy to walk the plank into Lake Nokomis for free-swim!  You’ll find the buccaneers (pirates) at “Blackbeard’s Galley” (canteen) taking a well deserved break and a treat.

Another spectacular special event is Frontier Day which includes pancake breakfast cookout, CIT scavenger hunt and “Gold Rush” which is a camp wide search for the ultimate prize–the “Mother Lode” of gold!!  In usual fashion there is much fun to be had not only in the finding of the gold, but also in the pursuit!! Cabins are working together to earn TP dollars in order to purchase clues, bug juice, the rental of a “digger” or to pay a fine to the local sheriff (CIT) for breaking the law.  From an outsider’s perspective, it may appear as mayhem with groups of kids running around in every direction, screaming in their excitement and aimlessly searching around camp.  But if you were to take a deeper look and immerse yourself in camp life,  you would see that there is a lot to be learned from this organized chaos!

There is comfort in the familiar, stability in tradition. But there is beauty and innovation in imagination and dreams. Camp is all about using the former to spur the latter. That’s what Quest Day is really about. The premise of Quest Day is simple: The king is growing old and wants to choose a male heir. Meanwhile, the old gods are stirring, threatening the very existence of camp itself! The camp must band together to seal away the Titans lest they awaken and do battle, destroying TP in the process! The chosen retainers of each potential heir will compete to see who can most gallantly overcome each trial! (Ok, maybe not quite so simple) For the afternoon adventures cabins are split into parties which attempt to overcome each trial on their quest that take place in various places around camp.

TP Fair is held on the 4th Sunday of camp — a fun-filled day with traditional fair activities and food.  What is special about this day is that all of our Woodland sisters make the trek over to Towering Pines to join in the festivities.  There is much effort put into setting up, decorating and making sure everything is ready for our guests.  It is also a camp tradition that Cabin 4 makes homemade ice cream which is a fair favorite!  The fair begins its exhibition of entertainment in the assembly area with a clown contest.  Each TP cabin has a booth and helps provide games and treats for the entire camp community.

In addition to our regular Sunday special events, we also have Olympics which takes place over a period of two days.  The entire camp is divided into teams, and the first afternoon is spent working on their team cheer and flag.  Amidst all of the competitions, emphasis is placed on team spirit and sportsmanship. The campers are placed in divisions based on age, and there are events in various skill areas such as aquatics, shooting and track and field.

Boys sign up for the events in which they feel most comfortable.  Having a variety of types of events, as well as the flag making process, creates opportunities for the fellas to shine in different ways.  Another break from routine is in the dining hall.  It is rearranged to accommodate having meals with their teams, and the Olympic flags from past years are displayed throughout. Ribbons are awarded for individual efforts as well as for the team cheer and flag. The entire camp has an energy that is contagious, and this reverberates into the special closing ceremony at the end of the final day.

We asked each camper what their favorite special event was from Summer of 2023, and here is what they shared: (These came from one of their “Best Moments” of the summer questionnaires.)

Pirate Day:  Rodrigo G. (C4), Miles B., Matt H., Will S., Henry P., and Manuel M.

Quest Day:  Ryan G., Will G., Diego O., Charlie L. and Sebas Z.

Frontier Day/Gold Rush:  Warner M., Chester C., Guy C., Devin S., Roark C., Forrest R., Thomas K., Lucas HS, Conor, Thomas S., William R., Nathan T., Alvaro A., Patricio R., Eli W. and Sam S.

CIT Scavenger Hunt (This is part of Frontier Day):  Benji J. and Will L.

TP Fair:  Jose Pablo G., Lorenzo V., Ben H., Chris W., Andres O., Emilio G., Reid J., Jacob J., Emeric D., Johnny E., Ricardo S., Pato E., Julian HS and Colin M.

Olympics:  Chase J., Mateo R., Javier F., Emiliano V., Bosco F., Jose Pablo B., Rodrigo G. (C7), Andres A., Juan Pablo O., Miguel M., Johnny P., Rodrigo F., Pablo E., Lucio S., Aiden Z., Mitch D., Ercole S., and Arturo G.

Special events are fantastic and focus on fun; however, these days are designed to provide ample opportunity for campers of all ages to try something new and learn about the value of each team member.  These  help campers to accelerate in both group and personal development. Campers learn social skills as well as character development because they are required to practice patience, negotiating, and sportsmanship. Being a humble winner and a gracious loser is not always easy, and so what better place to learn this than while having fun at camp! They also experience the roles of both leader and follower within the framework of their teams through the different activities and games.

We’re so excited for another spectacular summer in the northwoods! If you want to spice things up for your son for the summer and haven’t yet registered him for camp, just click this link!!  If you know of any other children and families who would benefit from the camp experience, we very much appreciate you sharing the spirit of camp with others.  See you soon!

Angie Ziller

  • Camp Mom at TP
  • Leadership Staff at TP/Office Manager
  • Marketing TP/Woodland
  • Leadership Team TP/Woodland
  • Assistant Waterfront Director at Woodland
  • Counselor at Woodland
  • “Building in our hearts fond memories, Towering Pines for you.”