Towering Pines Blog

Wake up! It’s time to open the doors . . .

Posted by on May 12, 2024

I recently traveled to Brooklyn, New York, to help direct the NYC Runs Half Marathon. You might think this was about as far away from camp as you can get, but actually . . . it was much closer to home than you’d ever fathom.

After addressing extreme logistics so that thousands of runners could infiltrate the streets of Brooklyn safely, I was positioned at an intersection as a “wayfinder” where I was accessible in case of emergency.  This was to be my “spot” for a few hours, so as I hunkered down in my location, I cheered on runners as they passed by.  I knew I was in for several hours of cheering, but what I wasn’t expecting was this . . .

After a couple of hours I heard a voice say, “How long are you gonna be making all of this noise?”  I looked around and didn’t see anyone attached to this voice.  But I replied, “I’ll be cheering and yelling until the last runner passes by.”  I heard a reply, “Well, you realize, you might be cheering, but you’re also waking up my plants with all of your ruckus.”  It ended up that I was stationed on the corner near an urban garden.  I said in return, “Well, maybe my cheering is making your plants happy.”  And then there was silence.

I persisted with my effort to make a difference in at least a few of these 21,000 runners’ lives, and I continued clapping and shouting out positive vibes to the participants.  About an hour later a man (the voice I’d heard earlier) approached me and said, “I’d like to give you something since you seem determined to cheer for these people and to wake up my plants with your happy vibe.”   He handed me a plant and instructed me to take it with me, wash it and then smell the aroma it provided (fresh mint).  After the uncertainty of our initial exchange, I wasn’t sure if he was disgruntled with me or actually pleased with my intentions — hence the gift he shared with me.

He then proceeded to say to me, “Tomorrow is a VERY big day for me!”  “What will happen tomorrow?” He replied, “Tomorrow, I will wake up the bees!” At first I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not, but he began to explain the whole process of waking up the bees and said that he would “open the doors and let the sun shine into the hives so that the queen bee and worker bees could awaken to all that was ahead.”  He continued to share that opening the doors will be the beginning of a new season and shine light on what is ahead for all of the change and growth in the garden.

This really resonated with me, and I spent the next couple of hours listening to this gardener hum and whistle and go about his work with great attentiveness and joy.  As I did so I began to think how ironic it is that this exchange with a stranger in the middle of Brooklyn actually made me reflect on many things about the upcoming summer at camp.

As spring awakens so much of the earth, we are embarking upon another summer at Towering Pines.  Physically the northwoods is beginning to “wake up” with the melting of the snow and ice on Nokomis and Clear, the buds bursting in the trees, plants beginning to bloom in the forest, and the moss garden coming to life with each day of sunshine and warmth. 

In a few short weeks we will also “wake up” other parts of camp by opening the doors and windows of all of the  buildings and cabins, performing maintenance and upkeep on these and the grounds, and taking out all of the equipment and making sure everything is ready for the activity areas.  Even the office and lodge will come to life as I open the doors and clean up the messes that our furry friends have left behind as they tried to find spaces to hunker down for the winter.

Not only is there a physical “wake up call” that takes place in preparation for the summer, but there is also a developmental awakening that happens for the counselors and campers throughout the weeks we spend in our summer home at TP.  It is fitting that the theme for the Summer of 2024 is “Open New Doors in ’24.”  Many aspects of these boys lives are filled with growth as they open new doors to learn about themselves as they mature physically, emotionally and socially.

They will have opportunities at camp to adjust to being away from home and adapt to different routines and schedules.  They will literally open the door to their new cabin assignment and learn many social skills that are a natural part of living in a group situation with their counselors and cabinmates.  In addition, they’ll have the chance to open the door to new experiences by engaging in daily and evening activities, challenging themselves to reach new skill levels and learning strategies to cope with their own individual failures and celebrating their successes.

Just as the gardener impacted me in our brief encounter, as a leadership team and staff, we hope to impact the lives of each of your sons over the upcoming weeks of camp.  As always, we are mindful of the camp values (Respect, Community, Growth, Responsibility and Safety) that provide the framework of everything we do as we plan and prepare to open the doors to the Summer of ’24!!

If you haven’t registered your child yet for this summer or know of a family who would benefit from our unique camp experience, please feel free to share this link:

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.”