The story of Camp Timberlane actually begins in 1934 at Camp Sydney Cohen, about 28 miles west of Milwaukee, on a beautiful lake named Nemahbin. This is where 7 year-old Harold Hiken found his love of summer camp. He attended for nine summers, first as a camper, and later as a counselor. The only thing that could drag Harold away was World War II, when he entered the Navy in the radar program.
from the service, Harold went
to college. He studied pre-med, but eventually went into
teaching so that he could have his summers free. Harold spent four
more years at Camp Sydney Cohen (eventually becoming Assistant
Director); but dreamed of something more...his own camp. He was then
called back into the service during the Korean
spending two years on Guam. Upon his return, Harold got his Masters
degree from the University of Wisconsin, in Recreation and Education.
It was here he met his future wife, Sharon.
While teaching, Harold worked at private camps before becoming a partner in the new Sydney Hill Camp For Boys. He spent two summers there, but still wanted a place he could call his own. Finally, in the fall of 1960, Harold purchased Edlee's Timberlane Resort on Lake Towanda in Woodruff, Wisconsin. It had been a fishing resort with seven cabins and a house. The land was all trees and had no developed waterfront. So, Harold had the trees bulldozed for the main athletic field, cleared a swim area, built a lodge and a small horseback-riding ring.
Camp Timberlane For Boys opened in the summer of 1961 with 37 campers. Among the main activities were softball, basketball and tennis. The next year saw more cabins built, along with a rifle range. Harold, or "HH" as he was known (in the '70s he lost one of his initials and became simply "H") continued to expand the facilities, often in original ways. For example, Timberlane opened its' own radio station, KTIM...and do you know of another place with Trampball? (well there is, but that's later in the story). Timberlane eventually settled at 15 cabins with an ideal capacity of 130-150 campers.
Harold's goal with Timberlane was simple...
"It was created to provide a place for every boy, and every staff member, to express himself in the manner best suited for himself; and to give him a chance to learn to live with, and to respect, other people. And above all, it was created as a place for him to come back to all the days of his life."
With the realization of this philosophy, Camp Timberlane became the place we loved. Campers came back year after year, growing into counselors better suited for the job than anyone Harold could find at a job fair. The Hiken family became our extended family, as Susan, Cindy, Nancy and Jimmy spent much of their youth at camp. Sharon's mother Nano was our figurative grandmother, and her potato latkes were legendary. Timberlane wasn't the biggest camp, and didn't have the flashiest facilities, but it lived and breathed in ways other camps could only aspire to...
In September 1978, Harold announced the sale of camp to longtime Timberlaner Mark Faiwell. Mark had run the tripping program, but spent the summer of '78 learning the ropes as H's right-hand man. It was pretty much business-as-usual during the next two summers; Harold and his family still occupied the house next to camp they built in 1975, but he was rarely seen. Although everyone still had a great time, something was missing...the ol' H.
Faiwell returned Timberlane to Harold shortly before the 1981 season. During his second tenure, H delegated more responsibilities, particularly to Assistant Directors Gary Gorchoff (who married Nancy Hiken in 1987) and Billy Fried. Timberlane rolled along, unfettered by time or the outside world, but Harold was ready to move on...
While on a 1984 recruiting trip, Harold met Mike Cohen. Cohen expressed a desire to be a camp director, and spent the summers of 1985 and 1986 under Harold's tutelage. Sensing H's time at Timberlane was near an end, former Assistant Director Randy Wynn organized a 25th anniversary staff reunion, which was held at camp in August of 1985. Those of us who were there will never forget it...
Following the 1986 season, Harold completed the sale of Camp Timberlane to Mike Cohen, and the Hiken era officially ended. Harold and Sharon soon purchased a new summer home on the far side of Lake Towanda; one that they still occupy, and where the gong is audible. Camp Timberlane, as operated by Mike and Leslie Cohen, prospers to this day...evolving Harold's camp with fresh and original concepts that keep it on the cutting edge.
But happily, Harold's camping days were not over...
In 1989 he teamed with Billy Fried to purchase Camp Agawak For Girls, located just south of Minocqua. Agawak was a well-known girls camp dating back to the 1920's, but it had been closed for several years. Harold and Billy reopened the camp, and it was an immediate success. They transplanted the best of Timberlane to a new locale...even building a Trampball court. H has sent 5 grandaughters to Agawak, where the soul of his Timberlane was reincarnated. Billy and Mary Fried now run the day-to-day operations, but the ol' H still appears at campfires...singing songs, telling stories, and weaving his magic for yet another generation.
The year 2000 saw Camp Timberlane enter its 40th summer of operation. To celebrate this milestone, Mike Cohen held a 40th Anniversary Reunion, with the Hiken family at centerstage. Almost 150 alumni converged on Timberlane for a weekend of reminising and minor injuries. The highlight was during the campfire, where we thanked H in a Key Log ceremony that lasted 3 hours. Watching Harold lead the singing and storytelling was a reminder of what Timberlane was, and in our hearts, always will be...