September 25, 1978
Dear Parents, Campers, Staff Members and Friends,
By now you all should have received a letter from Harold and Sharon Hiken announcing the sale of Camp Timberlane to Karen and myself. The transfer in ownership of the camp is the fufillment of a lifelong dream. There has been nothing I have strived so hard to achieve and attain as the dream of someday owning and directing a boys camp in northern Wisconsin, and especially CAMP TIMBERLANE FOR BOYS.
It all started for me 26 years ago. When my parents sent me to an overnight camp for the first time. I immediately loved the Northwoods of Wisconsin; however as that first summer continued on I found myself disliking camp more and more. By the end of the summer, I was convinced that I never wanted to go to overnight camp again. I came home and during that winter my parents convinced me that I would be much happier during the summer at a camp, rather than spending the summer in Chicago. We began the search for another camp and finally through many recommendations, decided to go to a very fine boys camp 15 miles away from Timberlane, I loved it! After my first year there, I couldnt wait to go back again. As the years rolled by, I became more and more in love with the Northwoods and camp, and eagerly awaited that magic day in June when I could return again. There were many years in which it was a tremendous financial strain in order for my parents to send me, and sometimes I wouldnt know until spring if my father would be able to afford it. I always remember that when I was told I would be able to go to camp in spring, it was the happiest day of the year for me. After eight years as a camper, I finally moved up to the Junior Counselor ranks and got my first taste responsibility. My love for years was always in the canoe tripping area and that is what I decided to teach at camp.
The following spring disaster struck, my father died and as far as I was concerned, that would the end of camping for me. I knew that I had to face the fact that I should be out working a regular job during the summer earning a reasonable salary with four years of college staring me in the face soon. However, my mother being the person she was, felt that getting away for summer would be the best thing for my well being to help ease the pain of losing my father. So back I went to camp for another summer as a Junior Counselor working in tripping the following year I entered college as a pre-med major, and did return to camp finally as a Senior Counselor in charge of the tripping program and took out my first Canadian Canoe Trip. That fall, the camp was sold to the JCC of Milwaukee and I decided I did not want to return to a camp that had two week sessions and was run entirely differently. Hence, I felt again that it would be the end of my camping career and onward to my career in medicine.
The following summer one of my best friends, who went to camp with me for years, decided to become a counselor at a camp called Timberlane. Over the July 4th weekend, I decided to take a drive up to Minocqua and visit him. In fact, I stayed with him in his cabin for two days. Well, it just so happened happened that the counselor who was to be the tripper that year never arrived, and Harold was in much need of someone to fill that job. I was introduced to Harold by my friend, and after Harold learned of my experience in tripping, immediately hired my services for the season. The first trip I went on, I had to call Harold and announce that I had forgotten the tents and asked him to send them out to us. The next canoe trip, I realized after having been dropped off, that I had failed to bring any paddles with us...hence another call to camp. Then for the grand finale: I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia for a week following that last trip. At this point Harold started to consider unloading me because he felt I was bad news. Well, we did finish the season and I took out my second of thirteen Canadians. After the season was over that year, I decided to take a drive to Milwaukee and visit Harold at his home. I really was not that close to Harold, however that visit started a friendship which continued to build to the point where no two men could be closer.
I continued to return to Timberlane as the tripper for a couple more years, and gained the same love for this camp as I had for my previous one. During my senior year of college, I made the most startling announcement of my life. I informed my mother and all concerned that I had decided I did not want to be a doctor, but that I wanted to own a camp someday. My grandfather said Oy Vey, and everybody said I was nuts. The following year I started working for a large pharmaceutical company doing biology research and managed to lie through my teeth for a few years in order to get leaves of absences during the summer to come back to camp. By this time, I had moved up to become the Assistant Director and was still talking about owning camp sometime in my life. Harold and I used to talk about it, and as remote as the possibility seemed, he never discouraged me from my dream. Of course, the camp I wanted was Timberlane; but this seemed impossible since it was one of the finest camps in Wisconsin, and probably had the largest amount of land. Unfortunately, the time came when I could no longer leave my job during the summer, and that truly spelled the end of camping. But I did the next best thing. Every weekend, I would drive on Friday 350 miles up to camp, stay the weekend and return on Sunday; just so I could be there. I also saved most of my vacation time so I could continue taking the Canadian canoe trip out. I now started going up to camp during the off-season to enjoy the Northwoods, and Harold was gracious enough to let me stay in his house.
Through all this, I still retained my dream
of owning Timberlane someday. I was not married yet, and I went out
with many girls, but the acid test was always if they liked camp. I
would take them up there during the summer, and if they hated it, it
was goodbye. Then I met Karen. I took her to camp and she loved it. I
told her from the beginning that I was going to own this place
someday, but I doubted she believed me. Finally a year ago, Harold
made the decision he might like to retire from camping to give
himself more time for other things in life. I knew that this was my
chance to get Timberlane, and that if I didnt get it now, I
would never have the opportunity again. We talked for months and
finally in May of this year, signed an agreement for the purchase of
the camp. In anticipation of buying Timberlane I did many things. I
traveled to practically ever reunion to meet everyone, and did all of
the recruiting in the Chicago area. I returned to camp last summer
and tried to get to know everyone as well as possible. Then I went
back to work and cashed in my profit sharing and savings; and with
the help of relatives and friends who have tremendous faith in me, my
dreams and hopes of over 26 years have finally become reality.
In summing it all up, a paragraph must be devoted to Harold and Sharon Hiken. Harold is a genius as a camp director, but even more importantly, he is a brother, friend, confidant, father figure, as well as a boss. In the years to come, if I can attain half the natural ability Harold has to direct a camp, and if I can acquire the foresight Harold has had over the years, then I will consider myself a successful director. The love that has evolved in this camp because of the efforts of Sharon and Harold can not be put into words. Anyone who has been here even one summer will know this. They leave behind a legacy in which they can be very proud of knowing they took a piece of property with six buildings, and 18 years later, have transferred the finest boys camp in the Northwoods to me. I thank them for this and hope to continue to build on their philosophies.
I hope you will share in the anticipation and excitement that Karen and I have for the future at Camp Timberlane. One of the camps fortes has always been, that we are one of the few camps which develops from within. Our staff has always been primarily boys who have come up through the ranks, and through our leadership training program have developed into probably the finest group of counselors that any camp could possibly have. And now, even at the highest level, the owner and director of the camp have evolved within; to take over and continue the traditions and genuine love that exists in our camp. In the months to come, I will be visiting all the cities, and am looking forward to meeting those of you I have not yet met. Timberlane and has always continued to grow through your efforts. You are the ones who must spread the word about the greatness of our camp: you are our representatives.
In the near future, I will be sending out
the registration sheets for the 1979 season, and also the information
concerning reunions in your respective cities. The dates for camp
next year are listed below; we will be starting camp in June on a
Sunday instead of Monday. I have felt that this will make it easier
for parents to get the boys to the airports. If you have any friends
or relatives interested in coming to our camp, please send me their
names and addresses. and I will send them literature about
Timberlane. Please feel free to write or call at any time. Until I
see you in the fall....
With Best Regards,
c/o Camp Timberlane
PO Box 467
Evanston, Illinois 60201
1st Session: June 17-July 14th
2nd Session: July 14-Aug. 10th
Eight Weeks: June 17-Aug. 10th