Traditions

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Greetings from camp,

Our second session color war, TIAD took place over the last two days. TIAD is about tradition, sportsmanship, teamwork, and healthy competition. Especially for our older girls, it is an anticipated and focal point of the summer. To read more about it click here:

Saturday night, we had the final TIAD event with a campfire that focuses on Birch Trail traditions.  Each team creates a skit that reflects one or more of Birch Trail’s long-standing traditions. Our camp traditions connect three different generations of campers to this wonderful place just west on Minong and remind me that our Birch Trail family is a very special one.

As I watched our campers perform their skits, I kept thinking back to a tour I gave that morning. A former camper brought her daughter to tour Birch Trail with the hope that her daughter would come here one day.  The mom was overjoyed to be back at camp. There were many times on our tour when her eyes welled up as she thought of another childhood memory. At one point we visited her first cabin to show her daughter what a typical BT cabin looks like, and bumped into Allison, one of the counselors.

Allison has a great group of campers. Half the campers are 2nd generation campers (their moms were campers at BT) and half are totally new to camp.  What makes this story so great is that Allison’s mom was the counselor to half her campers’ moms. So not only are some of these girls 2nd generation campers, but their counselor’s mom was their moms’ counselor. Talk about tradition!

Later on in the tour we walked by the waterfront where we stopped to talk with our waterfront director, Cabe. A child psychologist during the year and our long-standing waterfront director during the summer, Cabe is spending his 30th summer at camp. Wouldn’t you know it, he taught this mom how to water ski. He remembered her and gave her a big hug. We talked about how funny it is that so many women have photos of themselves learning how to waterski with Cabe cheering in the background. Now, many of those same women have photos of their daughters learning how to waterski with Cabe in the background cheering them on. How cool is that!

It made me think about how we balance tradition and forward progress. Camp remains a constant for our alumni; all the while we make improvements and create new customs and pieces of our culture. Much of the balance we achieve is due to the dedication and creativity of our staff. We have wonderful childcare professionals at Birch Trail and they make camp what it is. The traditions are rich and valuable, but it’s the people that make our community what it is. I am thankful for our cast of characters and the time they give to Birch Trail and to its campers.

With that in mind, I would like to share a note written by this week’s camp Doctors. This is their 18th summer at camp and we so appreciate the time they have spent with us. For their dedication to Birch Trail campers and staff over the past two decades, I am forever grateful.

 

Summer Camp…words that always bring me immense joy, remembering watersports, arts and crafts, horseback riding, hiking and camping. It was an experience that I wanted my children to have, not for just a week or two, but all summer. The camp in Maine that I attended (as their first 3rd generation camper) had closed, so we found camps in the Midwest and sent our kids, basically sight unseen. Before the advent of Internet, we had phones, brochures, and word of mouth. So, based on a couple of brief conversations (long distance calls were expensive!) we sent our kids off to camp.

For our older daughter’s 4th summer (BLT), she encouraged us to be the camp doctors, so Robert jumped through the Wisconsin hoops to get a medical license. We felt immediately comfortable at camp. The Chernov family became old friends instantly, and we loved getting to be part of the camp family for a week. The following summer, our daughter wanted her privacy, so we just visited for in-between day. The next summer, our youngest was a lower-lower maple. So we returned to camp for the second of what is now, 18 summers at Birch Trail. Although our son and daughters are all grown up, we keep coming back to camp. Why you may ask?

A week in the North Woods is restorative for both of us. Robert loves the “well child medicine”. Coming from a Pediatric Intensive Care practice, camp is a vacation. He is challenged periodically by an occasional orthopedic event, but mostly he is happily dealing with bug bites and sore throats from so much cheering. Your daughters are very brave when they come to visit the health center, often with a buddy for extra moral support. The rest of the time he enjoys sitting on the deck reading and watching the endless activities happening around him.

I retired from medicine 10 years ago. I assist in the health center, mostly wrapping sprains and giving hugs. However, for me, the fun is in the day-to-day interactions with the girls and staff. So, I bring craft projects to share. Over the years, we have knit, felted, painted, quilted, sewn, dyed, spun, and drawn. Your daughters have taught me to play tramp ball, make friendship bracelets, beaded flower bracelets, and many other crafty activities.

Camp is a special place; a place to be silly, a place to be quiet or loud (as the situation calls for), a place to learn new skills, make new friends, a place to be contemplative. Girls learn to speak with their own voice, listen with skill, and become individuals. They also learn to be part of a community. One of our first weeks at camp the Sunday service was a discussion about how everyone at camp is a contributor to the community. Cooking meals or repairing buildings, eagerly participating in activities, leading a project, achieving a personal goal… every single person helps to create the special place that is Birch Trail Camp. Each of us is empowered to make that contribution really special. This year, on our arrival, the Sunday service touched on some of the same points. Be a positive part of something bigger.

We love being part of the Birch Trail community. Watching your daughters grow from first year campers, to counselors has been an immense privilege. We enjoy every year. Thank you.

 

Fondly,

Drs. Robert and Ellen Rosenberg

 

 

 

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