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Opening Day

IT’S THE FIRST DAY OF CAMP

A mid-morning sun beats down on the mountain as more and more campers arrive. Your son looks out over camp, taking it all in, and flashes a nervous smile as you ask how he’s doing.

You try to act calm and confident on his behalf, reassuring him that he’s about to have the time of his life though internally you’re full of questions. What if he’s different than the other boys? What if they don’t make sure to include him? What if they don’t think he’s good enough or brave enough or strong enough?

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Our culture demands that young men compromise on their own personal standards and beliefs in order to imitate the qualities in others that have been deemed more valuable. At Camp Highlander, however, we promote integrity over insincerity. We believe that every boy has been uniquely created by God with a personality and a purpose all his own. We seek to help each and every camper grow into the young man he was designed to be through personal integrity and relational sincerity.

And it all starts with our cabin unit. The moment your son sets foot on the mountain, he’s home. His two cabin counselors —full of energy and encouragement and excitement— immediately welcome him into the Highlander family. As he enters his cabin for the first time, he’s greeted by nine other smiling campers who quickly transform from 10 individual members into one unified unit. From those first few moments, an unshakeable brotherhood has formed.

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To pass the time between lunch and an afternoon slate of activities, campers unpack, set-up their bunk, strike up a game of tetherball or squeeze in a few holes of disc golf. The bonds of brotherhood, initiated just hours earlier, have already begun to strengthen.

The next few hours are filled with a variety of activities which provide just a small sample of all that Camp Highlander has to offer. As returning campers share their favorite memories from years past and new campers anticipate the many adventures that lie ahead, the bonds continue grow.

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Before long, all of camp settles down in front of a roaring campfire as everyone is officially welcomed into the Camp Highlander family. Your son, his cabin mates, and their counselors sit side-by-side with flickering shadows of orange and red and yellow dancing across their faces. Through the pops and hisses of the fire, and the familiar strums of a guitar, an undeniable sense of community washes over them.

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Back in the cabin, as night settles over the mountain and sleep begins to beckon, every cabin unit sits down for an intentional talk led by each pair of counselors. Hopes, dreams and fears are shared. Questions are answered, goals are set, and encouragement is freely offered and eagerly received. A cabin pledge —meant to determine how this newly formed brotherhood will live together, work together, and share in new experiences together— is agreed upon and accepted. This pledge is each boys’ declaration that he will, with full integrity and for as long as he calls this mountain home, dedicate his very best efforts to improving himself, his cabin mates and the entire Highlander family.