Beyond the Buildings: The Spirit of Timber Lake

Ask a Timber Lake camper what their favorite part of the summer was, and it likely won’t be the water slide, or the new Elective Center, with its state-of-the-art 3D printing lab and t-shirt design studio, or even Reggie’s cookies, which make my mouth water just thinking about them. Instead, it will be a reflection on a moment or memory that happened on the water slide, or in the elective center and dining hall.

In other words, Timber Lake Camp is WAY more than just its amazing facilities. The noise of the crowd in the Timber Dome, not the sound system, are what can be heard throughout the camp as the Tiger’s compete to win another Gordon Cup championship . The unique setting of the Tiger’s Den, although serene, is not responsible for the beautiful silence that comes over the camp as it holds its breath in anticipation of two game altering free throws. These moments would happen regardless of the facility OR setting – because they are driven by the spirit of Timber Lake.

It’s that spirit that keeps campers coming back, summer after summer, and then as counselors, ready to bring the same sense of belonging to new generations of campers. Spirit can be felt everywhere on Saddle Mountain, from those unforgettable championship games, to the quieter afternoons in the cabins. On Saturday evenings, when the whole camp comes together in the Rec Hall and the opening chords of the Alma Mater play, you know you’re home!

The spirit of Timber Lake is not something anyone takes for granted; its been carefully and tirelessly cultivated, summer after summer, generation after generation. The STARFISH Ceremonies, which take place every Saturday evening, rain or shine, have become integral to both the spirit of Timber Lake and the character of its campers and staff. When Jay walks to the front of the assembled camp, a murmur of excitement runs through the crowd. The question is always the same: What story will Jay tell tonight? Will the new campers finally get to learn about the dense fog that rolled over Saddle Mountain and carried with it TLC’s most famous counselor, Fergie, or will he share with the camp the importance of tolerance and kindness with his classic story that always ends with the same important lesson: “you can remove the nails, but the holes remain.” These stories that we hear and values that are imparted on us stay with us long after we leave Timber Lake’s majestic grounds, because as we all know, TLC isn’t simply a place we go … its who we are.

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