Towering Pines Blog

Wings to Fly . . .

Talk about soaring free! The past few days we have had the “great honor and privilege” to catch glimpses of a juvenile bald eagle learning to fly.  To say it’s a breathtaking experience doesn’t even begin to do it justice.  This beautiful creature has been checking out the many visitors (campers and staff) who have come to dwell in his birthplace, the trees of the northwoods at Towering Pines Camp for Boys.

Fledgling surveying the scene

He’s reminding us to continue to soar free as was the theme of camp last summer.  (Soaring Free in ’23)  This summer’s theme is “Open New Doors in ’24.”  We’ve definitely opened the doors to this summer so that we can give these campers the opportunity to spread their wings and try new things.

Fledgling practicing flying at TP

Eaglets take baby steps as they learn to become proficient fliers.  “As the young birds grow and develop they can often be seen exercising their wings on the nest or on a nearby branch. This is called “branching” — or sitting in the branches of their home tree, and is a natural lead-up to fledging (leaving the nest for the first time). This is a crucial stage for the young birds as many try to fly prematurely, especially when startled or flushed from the tree by predators and people who get too close. ”

Just like the young eagle, the boys who are spending their very first summer at camp spent two days exploring all of the different activities that are offered. Now they’re trying the activities that they selected for the first 2-week session and developing skills.  During this time they are observing, listening, but most importantly doing! For the campers who have been here in past summers, they may continue honing prior skills that they learned in an activity area that they were in last summer.  They’ll proceed to learn even more in these areas or, perhaps, they’ll try something completely new. The boys may find activity areas that come very naturally to them and others that may take a lot of practice and determination in order to become proficient.

Once an eagle has taken a flight, it enters the fledgling phase of development. For the first 6 weeks, it will stay close to the nest site and the parents.  “During this fledgling period the young eagles spend increasingly less time with the adults and begin to hunt on their own.”

Just like the fledgling eagle takes 6 weeks to practice with the support of his parents and his nest near by, camp provides a 6- week program that offers the boys the opportunity to take baby steps and all the growth time that they need in order to succeed.  At first the campers often stay close to “their nest” or cabin which is their summer home and comfort zone. They spend time getting to know their new cabin mates and/or rekindling past summer friendships.  As the days and weeks go by they tend to start to venture out more “hunting” or developing relationships with boys from other cabins and different peer groups.

As mentioned earlier, it is important that we don’t startle the fledgling eagle so that he has the opportunity to practice his skills so he can eventually fly away from the nest.  One of our camp values is to RESPECT everyone and everything which includes the creatures and environment around us.  We have encouraged all of the staff and young men to respect the eagle too and give him the space he needs to learn at his own pace so that he can one day soar high and free.

We also believe that it takes a lot of “slow to grow,” and so we respect that each camper needs the time and space to learn at his own pace. Sometimes this means a slow progression, and other times, it is literally a leap to another level.  Growth and development are unique to each child, and there is no set pace or race to the finish.  The boys will have a plethora of opportunities to GROW (another camp value).

The summer has just begun but already these fellas have had some exceptional experiences.  Each of these will bring them closer to “soaring” and continuing to become the best version of themselves.  You as parents and guardians have given them wings, Camp Towering Pines will give them many magnificent opportunities to FLY!

Photo by photographer Steve Biro

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.”

Resources:

Journey North

Hawk Mountain Global Raptor Conservation