Towering Pines Blog

The Vision


It’s that time of year when I can finally put the responsibilities and obligations of the school year in the past and reorient myself for the summer. That’s one of the great things about a career in education: you still get a summer. Of course, academics like me usually spend the summer doing the same thing they do during the year. But I’m one of the lucky few who get to go home, truly home.

I was raised at camp. It has been one of the only constants in my life. I was a child here before I was of age to join the cabin group, I’ve hunted these woods, and explored the depths of the lakes, and several of my ancestors are buried here. So, when I come back to camp, it is with a sense of deep satisfaction. It also helps me to gain that precious perspective on the past and future which shapes the choices I make each day. Camp is a tradition, it is history; but it is also a future and a vision.

Often, this occurs in the literal sense.

Often, this occurs in the literal sense.

I beat everyone else up here this summer. Sometimes it seems like a competition to see who can get here and stay here the longest. For me, the benefit of being here early is like cooking from scratch or growing a garden from seed to harvest: it gives me a sense of the process and an added satisfaction when it all comes together. Here in the stillness of the early summer, I have a chance to imagine what the season will be like. I can imagine what the grounds will look like when all the activity areas are ready, even as I mow the lawn and fight the weathering forces of the previous winter (and woodpeckers!). I’m only one man, which makes big projects harder, but also allows me to see the whole place start to take shape before my hands.

You have to look through the grass that needs to be cut and the docks that aren't in.

You have to look through the grass that needs to be cut and docks that aren’t in.

It takes some imagination and some experience to picture the campers playing Frisbee on the lawn before snacks, or boys coming up to me to share the accomplishments of their activities each day. I have been here enough years that when I look out on the empty lake, I know right where the moorings will be, the fleet of x-boats swinging around them in the evening breeze. I know where the docks will be and the lane lines and the ski boats. I can already hear the cries of “eagle!” ringing out across the waterfront as our national bird swoops down to snatch a clean and healthy smallmouth bass from the lake.

Dragonflies are a welcome sight

Transformations are happening every day!

Where a younger, more action-oriented, version of me would see a long list of jobs yet undone (it will all still be there tomorrow, Grandpa would say), I now sip my coffee contentedly and smile because I can imagine what this place will be like full of campers and counselors and life. I know that I’m not the only person who calls this place home, even though I’m the only one living here right now.

The history of Towering Pines stretches back beyond my 29 years, or even Grandpa or Pa Jordan’s time here. This place has been home to many people, from lumberjacks to the Anishinabe and the Great Spirit before them. I’m only the first here this summer, but that is good enough for me. Camp is a vision of the past and the future. I think about the great times of the past summers, and I am cultivating my excitement for the days to come. I look forward to seeing you all back here again!