Towering Pines Blog

The Ties That Bind Us

I recently had the opportunity to be a fly on the wall for a social with the 15-yr olds from both camps. It was interesting to see the two groups come together for the 2nd time this summer. The gals from Driftwood and the guys from Cabin 11, along with their counselors, spent an hour or so of hanging out in the lodge at Woodland. While I’m pretty sure teenagers around the world normally don’t congregate to play “get-to-know-you” games on a Friday night when they socialize in a non-camp setting, it appeared to be the most natural of scenes for these older campers.

It occurred to me that the reason this is so natural are the ties that bind us together. Yes, we are on separate campuses 2 miles apart on the same road. Yes, there are differences in some obvious and not so obvious ways. Towering Pines is nestled between Lake Nokomis and Clear Lake; Woodland is on the shores of Sand Lake. Soap dips are all the rage at TP, while Woodland gals prefer showers. If you ask about the favorite meal at each camp, TP would shout “jambalaya” and Woodland would scream “lasagne” (or taco bar). While there is glitter on many surfaces at Woodland, you will most likely find sand at Towering Pines. The differences make us unique; it is what we have in common that binds us together.

As dice games were played to help break the ice, the teen group eventually ended up around one big table and played “Left, Center, Right”. Because no skill whatsoever is necessary to keep the game moving, a friendly banter between the guys and gals quickly started to unfold as chips were kept or passed in various directions of the person rolling the dice. While waiting for a turn, the topic of conversation casually began with the Olympic flags displayed around the Woodland lodge. Olympics is one of the ties that bind the two camps as it is a traditional event that happens every summer at each location. The kids were commenting on various aspects of Olympics and wanting to know more about the details of how Olympics is carried out at the other camp. While there are teams, flags, events, ribbons, etc for both, some of the specifics of the event are interpreted differently.

At one point the focus switched to the plaques for various activities that show achievements for completing an advanced level in our cornerstone program areas (riding, sailing, tennis, archery, riflery, canoeing, etc). Because several of the campers have parents or other family members who are Towering Pines or Woodland alums, this is another tie that binds us. It is an easy road down which to travel to have a lively discussion. As groups moved from plaque to plaque looking for the name of a relative whose footsteps at one time or other are now part of camp history, they shared stories passed down from years gone by. The brother-sister camp combination offers the opportunity for family members to have unique but shared experiences.

As campers return home next week, siblings will be able to slip into a comfortable exchange about their camp experience. Regardless of being at Towering Pines or Woodland, they will have a good understanding of what it was like for the other because of the ties that bind us together. They will be able to talk about their day having had similar choices for 3 morning and 3 afternoon activities. Brothers and sisters will understand cabin clean-up/inspection. “Buddy check”, “canteen” and other camp lingo will not need an explanation. Assembly, rest/quiet hour, campfire, and cookout are relatable topics. Gold Rush and Fair Days will be familiar territory. Camp for each will have ended on the high notes of  Co-Ed Show, Banquet and Parent’s Weekend.

Back to Friday night’s social. Two camps joining for a period of time at one location affords a tie that binds in a way that is really hard to duplicate in any other setting. There is lots to talk about even though we are generally separate most days. The common ground is vast. The nuances are just that. The differences that make us unique and interesting (it would be extremely boring if we were exactly alike). We are fortunate to have brother-sister camps founded and operated on the same ideals and philosophies. The ties that bind us are strong!

p.s. I’m off to the Woodland Fair…