Towering Pines Blog

The Power of Making Choices

As I sit here in my camp “office,” which by the way has an amazing view of Lake Nokomis, I reflect on the fact that we’ve been at camp now for a little over 2 weeks. I realize now more than ever, that one of the remarkable things about camp is that it presents a unique environment in which campers get to make many choices for themselves. The best part is that they get to do so within a structured and safe environment.

Learning to ride a bike takes practice, and before taking off on one’s own, you start out with training wheels first. The cool part is that camp provides the training wheels!! There are great counselors and leadership staff to help guide the campers along the way. Making mistakes is expected, but our job is to help them learn from their mistakes and encourage them to keep trying.

Whereas at school someone else often decides what classes they take, campers get to decide what activities and workshops make up their day at camp (now that we are past the cabin cohort stage). For some kids, this is the first time they get to make selections about what they want to do. Do they want to venture out and try something new like sailing, or do they want to play it safe and stick with fishing? Maybe a camper will pick something unique that he hasn’t even heard of before like Lacrosse or, perhaps, try something he can’t do at home such as learning how to skin dive. The opportunities are endless!

Campers also make choices about setting goals. How far do I want to push myself in archery or mountain biking? Do I feel motivated by my peers to move on to that next level or do I want to step back and keep practicing skills I’m already comfortable with before taking that leap? Sometimes traversing into the unknown can activate feelings about having to do it right on the first try.

We believe that it “takes a lot of slow to grow” and give campers opportunities to learn new skills in incremental steps. Activities are designed so that campers spend plenty of time practicing skills at an appropriate level and move on when ready (or when a counselor issues a friendly “nudge”). Little by little, and before they know it, campers can do things on their own without any fear. This is another great example of the training wheels I mentioned earlier.

In addition, there are choices that a camper makes daily about developing their own character traits. Do I go and ask that boy who is sitting alone to join us? Should I give my turn for wake-boarding to someone else and wait patiently until tomorrow for another opportunity?  Will I be honest with my cabin that I chose not to do my job today and that’s why our cabin inspection score was a little lower than usual?

As you can see, camp is full of opportunities for campers to make choices. I believe that if these young boys and young men learn to make to make choices now, they will have the skills necessary to make the larger more significant ones later in life when they no longer have their training wheels upon which to rely. We are grateful that you made the CHOICE to send your son to Towering Pines!!!

Angie Wenzl Ziller

Camp Mom at TP
Office Manager at TP
Marketing TP/Woodland
Assistant Waterfront Director at Woodland