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Father Son weekend is almost here!


Two weeks from today there will be about a hundred fathers and sons roaming the property here at Camp Timberlake. They’ll be climbing on the tower at Spencer’s Green, christening the newly redesigned airsoft course, eating tacos in a bag in the Tucker Inn, and defending the flag in sock war. It’s all happening in just two weeks, and we can’t wait.


There are so many reasons we love our Father Son weekend. We love returning campers bringing their dads to camp, to show them what they’ve been talking about all year and initiate them into their tribe. We love new campers discovering Timberlake for the first time alongside their dads, and watching them both fall in love with this special place. We love that this weekend kicks off our summer season with a HUGE bang.  We love how beautifully the weekend captures the generational continuity of camp, as fathers and sons join the same tribe and former campers and counselors who were initiated in the 80s, 90, 00s, and this decade look on with pride: all back to celebrate and share their love of Timberlake.


But what do we love most of all? That’s easy. We love that dads and their sons are spending time together. We love watching dads take the time, make the time, to go on adventures with their sons. Dads, we know that there are any number of places and ways you could choose to spend time together, and we’re grateful so many of you are coming to spend the weekend with us.

The countdown is on. See you at camp!



Great News from Timberlake!

Dear Friends and Family,

We are excited to announce that we have purchased 215 acres that will eventually become the new home for Camp Timberlake.

The property is located thirty minutes east of camp and we are starting construction immediately. While we are excited to move forward quickly, we won’t be rushing any part of the design or building. Details and precision make all the difference as we create a space that perfectly balances safety, fun, and adventure.

Our mission is growth through friends and adventure. Timberlake is doing just that – growing. It’s been growing so much in fact, that the program is ready for the next great adventure. The mission, traditions, and essence of Timberlake will remain the same, but our new home will give our boys a place to be on their own, find new adventures, and grow life-long friendships. We are excited to have you join us as Timberlake continues to grow as one of the premier camps in the nation.

Great times ahead!
Adam & Ann and John & Catherine








A few pictures of our future home!














Details Matter


As I’ve watched the madness that is the March unfold on the court and my bracket bust yet again, I have found my thoughts drifting, as they often do, to camp and all the adventures awaiting our guys this summer. And I couldn’t help but be struck by one huge way that college basketball and summer camp are exactly the same: details matter.


With whole seasons coming down to one possession games decided by a single defensive stop or well executed play, I could almost hear the coaches preaching the importance of details all season long and watching as the little things became the big difference in a win or loss.


Just as in those March Madness games, details make a big difference here at camp. And that’s why “we care about details” is one of our core values. It permeates everything we do, because ultimately details play a pivotal role in our community and our campers’ experience. We spend nine and a half months preparing for boys to join us for 2 or 4 weeks, and every moment matters.

That’s why we do things in the off-season like getting all new signs for our cabins and buildings (don’t worry, they are the same style and color, just new), building a new set of stairs behind Stomper’s Knob because the old ones had a big third step I thought was treacherous, or replacing all the light bulbs in camp a few years ago so that the lighting in each cabin felt more welcoming and ‘just right’.

It’s why we review the safety procedures in all our activities each year to make sure they meet the highest standards for our industry. It’s why we pride ourselves on having the most thorough hiring process and training week for our staff. So that when summer starts, we are in championship form. So even if your favorite team isn’t still dancing (I’m with you, Vanderbilt lost in the first round), get excited because camp is just around the corner. And here at Timberlake we’re working around the clock to make camp big enough to get lost in the adventure, but small enough where no detail is lost, because every one matters.


68 days until camp.

John Menendez

Director, Camp Timberlake for Boys

Proud Commodore











Petey is proud of our new cabin signs


Awards and Growth










After twenty-five years running camps together, Ann and I have started to ask ourselves whether we would rather watch our children grow, or help our children grow, because sometimes, at the most important moments, we cannot do both.

We recently sent out a parent survey, and we learned a few things. One is that camps need to do a better job explaining their awards ceremonies. Every camp does this differently, but almost all have this one thing in common: the most important growth, recognition and awards happen when parents are not there. Season-end awards tend to be superlatives: Most Outstanding, Most Improved, Honor Camper, etc., and of course these are the ones that parents are most likely to see. But great programs are aimed less at final awards and more at each camper’s trajectory of growth.

Multiple studies reported by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. (Growth Mindset) show that children develop more resiliency when they try hard, fail and continue trying, than those who easily achieve the award or goal. A 2011 study demonstrated increased brain activity with students who struggle through a problem. Others show that more effort produces more myelin, greasing the skids for growth by changing the brain itself. As a result Dweck prescribes, “praising the process” rather than the success.

Every great camp does this differently. We do it through our White Feather and Little Chief programs. These are weekly gatherings where we award pins and promotions based on growth in skills, chosen challenges and character. The idea is to recognize small steps that lead to big growth. These ceremonies do not recognize every camper, but they do recognize every type of camper. The every camper part happens later that night when a counselor sits by each boy’s bed and describes in detail his strengths and witnessed growth.

So how can you tell from a closing ceremony whether this is happening at your camp? Stop watching the boy receiving the award and start watching the pride of everyone else. They are proud because they know how hard he worked, and they are proud because they are best friends, and they are proud because they are growing too.

So parents, you may miss the best part – but your campers never do!

Great Camping,


Getting Ready for Camp


It’s March, you’re signed up for camp, you’ve completed your camper packet and now you are waiting for the big trip to the mountains. But there may be something else that has happened, you’ve started to have doubts. Fret not – you’re in great company – this happens to almost everyone! So here are five things you can do to help everyone be more comfortable.

  1. Take a vacation. Camps are in beautiful places, so take a family trip to visit your camp. You meet a camp director and you think he’s great (because we all are!). But then you go home and start to doubt your first impressions. So come back and meet him again. It will also give your camper a sneak peek at their cabin
  2. Demythologize homesickness. We’re all homesick sometimes; haven’t you ever missed home while you were on vacation? One of the best parts of growing up is loving a group so much that you are willing to miss home a little to enjoy  being with them. That’s what happened when you went to college, that’s what happened when you got married, and that’s what happens at a great camp. One of the hardest parts of homesickness is being afraid you will be homesick. Go ahead and remove that by telling your camper that it’s okay to miss home.
  3. Make a friend. Call the director and ask if you can connect with a few campers in your child’s cabin. We also like to have our counselors contact first year campers so campers will have someone to look out for when they arrive.
  4. Remember the big secret. Parents are every bit as nervous as their campers. Don’t let your camper know this, but do let the Camp Director know because we’re parents too. We get it, and we can tell you what worked when we sent our children to camp.
  5. And remember the other secret. Returning campers get nervous too. They start to worry that camp will not be as magical this year, or that their friends won’t be as welcoming as they remember. I think it is because they have been in school all year. But camp never changes – it’s always magical.

Here’s the best news of the day: the more nervous a camper is the more they will grow at camp. The more you invest the larger the reward, and the more nervous you are the more proud you will be when camp ends up being the best decision you ever made. That’s the way kids become curious; that’s they way they develop a sense of adventure.

Great Camping!



Costa Rica Kayak Adventure


Growth through friends and adventure.

It’s something that we talk about a lot around here, something we strive to weave into every aspect of our program. But it’s not every day that you get the chance to see all three happening simultaneously, like I did over new year’s down in Costa Rica with six of our strongest kayakers. The week long adventure was full of too many stories to tell here (watch the recap video!), but I’d like to briefly share the incredible ways all three elements of our mission came life in Costa Rica.


Adventure: We’ll start with the easy one. Over the course of seven days, we had the chance to kayak through Costa Rica’s beautiful, rugged and challenging rivers and landscapes. Paddling class II-IV rapids, camping out by the river’s edge with only the gear we paddled with, hiking to and swimming under waterfalls, and exploring local markets hardly begins to scratch the surface of the adventures we shared.  


Friends: Six campers across all three of our session spent a whole week, living, eating, working and playing together. As men (and young men), there is a unique bond created when we walk (or in this case paddle) shoulder to shoulder and side by side, looking forward, and pushing one another towards a goal that would be out of reach if approached individually. To watch these bonds grow and strengthen throughout the trip was a privilege for me.


Growth: Where do I even start? Not only did each guy grow leaps and bounds in his kayaking experience and abilities (these were not the same boaters leaving that flew down at the start of the trip), but they learned to navigate a new country and culture, some of them for the first time. Way to go Jack, James, Joe, Ford, Cameron and Trey. We are so proud of you.


It was the trip of a lifetime and an absolute blast to be a part of. Be sure to check out the recap video and join us on our next Timberlake adventure!


Great Camping,

John (and Hank)


The rumors are true.

After months and months of anticipation, the announcement is official. Timberlake is bringing back guitar class, and oh man, are we excited.


So why all the hype over one more activity option? The answer is simple: we believe that teaching guitar brings us closer to achieving our mission of helping our campers grow through friends and adventure.

Here at Timberlake, we strive to be a community where every boy who comes to camp is known for their best qualities. We want to be a place where those qualities are celebrated and where boys feel free and encouraged to try new things: things that might be outside of their comfort zones, or things that they just might fail at. For some of our campers, these opportunities come in the form of combat rolls on their first kayaking trip or spending the night out on the trail on a big backpacking trip. For others it comes in arriving to camp for the first time not knowing anyone, and learning to connect with new people socially in the cabin or at dinner. And for still others it will happen in guitar class, a different kind of challenge, a unique creative outlet.


Anyone who has spent time learning an instrument knows that it is hard! And here at camp we think trying something hard is good. Some of our boys will find that the C, and G chords are harder to master than shooting a bow and arrow or climbing the tower, while others, who might be struggling to get that accurate grouping in riflery, will discover a new passion and talent on guitar. Both of those scenarios will happen this summer, and they are both worth celebrating as our boys learn how to stick with things that are tough, and discover new gifts that they didn’t know they had.


So join us this summer. Join us for a summer of discovery and of growth, of trial and error, of great friends and enduring memories. Join us for our best summer yet.  

Great Camping,


How to choose the right camp

It’s time.

Catherine has been thinking about sending her kids to summer camp for the past several years, but hasn’t yet taken the plunge, partially due to the huge variety of choices. She knows her kids would like to go to camp and believes they are ready, but where? For how long? Where should she even start?

Picking a summer camp for your child can be as overwhelming as it is important. The good news is that there are lots of quality camps, but this can make narrowing the choices down to the right camp a challenge. There is no magic formula for picking a camp, but there are a few things you should think about when deciding where will be the right fit for your child.

  1. Program

The first step is to narrow down what type of camps you’d like to investigate for your camper. Camps are structured and feel drastically different from one another depending on their mission and focus. The way to decide which type of camp is to ask “Why am I sending my child to camp?” and then find a type of program that meets that goal. Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps do a great job helping campers towards the goal of earning their Eagle or Gold award. High Adventure wilderness camps will challenge campers physically and mentally as they learn to be out on the trail for days on end. Sport camps will sharpen skills that prepare campers for varsity and even collegiate competition. Traditional camps excel at fostering social development and growth in their campers, through activities, trips, and a shared community. There’s no right or wrong answer to the question of “Why?”, but thoughtful consideration of why you are sending your child to camp will help ensure that you select a program where your child will thrive.

2) Demographics

Another important factor in camp selection is deciding whether a single gender or coed camp is the right fit for your child. There are outstanding programs in each category, but there are some inherent strengths and weaknesses to each type. Single gender camps pride themselves on providing safe environments for their campers to try new and different things and even risk failing. The lack of the opposite sex often lowers the stakes of trying and failing and gives both boys and girls the confidence to push themselves

Conversely, Coed camps, view the presence of the opposite sex as a central strength of the program, because camp is one of the best places to learn how to interact and  work and with the opposite gender. The two genders bring unique things to the table in a coed camping community.

For some campers, the summer is a chance to experience a single-gender setting which contrasts with their coed year-round school experience. For others, it is a chance to develop vital social skills of interacting with peers of both genders. Strong communities are built in both types, particularly among traditional camps, but campers will grow in different ways depending on the demographic and thinking about how you’d like your child to grow is crucial.

3) Staff

Finally, likely the most important consideration when choosing a summer camp is the quality of the staff. The quality of any camp program rises and falls with the quality of the counselors and staff members. Asking what the ratio of staff to campers is a good start (anything greater than 4:1 should be a red flag), but parents should consider many questions when evaluating staff. Some of these would  include:  What does the hiring and interview process look like for your staff? How many references do you contact and do you run the proper background checks? How many of your staff are former campers? What qualifications do they have to teach in their area of expertise? What training do you have for them once they are hired?
While this is no means an exhaustive list of questions, it is a good place to start. It important to know how a camp selects their staff, as they are the men and women that will serve as role models and mentors for your child.

To close, summer camp can be a time of incredible growth, development, and fun for your child. In order for campers to get the most out of their summer experience, however, parents should evaluate camps across a number of key criteria. The program, demographic and staff are key components that parents should consider when selecting a camp for their child. Engaging in a thoughtful camp selection process will help ensure that you select the right camp for your child and that they are able to learn and grow at camp, all while making memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.



John Menendez

Director, Camp Timberlake for Boys



Food brings people together. We gather around a table to share favorite recipes, reminisce on delicious dishes, or celebrate special moments. Mealtime is a big part of family life, and it’s a big part of life at camp too. We walk from archery down towards pottery, hoping to catch the scent of what might be for lunch (smells like taco’s in a bag!). We walk to rest time, debating the best desserts camp has to offer(S’more pockets? Ice Cream Sandwiches? Rice Krispie Treats??).  And let’s be honest, nothing gets us out of bed faster than the prospect that, yes, today just might be the day when geometry breakfast comes back.

Meals are important, and at Timberlake we take them seriously. That’s why we eat family style, always. At camp we live like family, and we structure our meals to reflect that, sitting by cabin with our friends and counselors. At the start of each meal, we sing the blessing (put your hands on your hips!), and then a director says the blessing. Once we sit down, a cabin counselor gets the food and serves each camper his first plate individually, and then we tuck in together. Calls of “pass the chicken!” and “more rolls please” echo around the dining hall, and yes, if you do “kill” the last of the mashed potatoes, you have to go and “fill” it for the rest of the table. As we sit all together laughing and telling stories, or guessing what might happen next (Do you think it’s Pirate ball tonight??), we are growing closer as friends, as a community, as a family.  

So yes, food is a big deal to us. And it goes beyond having a healthy bar option and salad bars to make sure we’re getting good healthy fuel for our day. That’s an important part, but we see a bigger purpose in how we eat: One that brings us all to the table, to a place where everyone belongs. We call it family style.


Alumni Spotlight-Cody Anderson

Catching up with Cody.


We talk a lot about leadership here at Timberlake, and how leadership opportunities help our boys grow. One of the most prestigious opportunities a camper can have is to become chief of his tribe, an honor and responsibility bestowed upon him by his peers. Keeping in touch with former campers and staffers is one of the best parts of my job and I recently got the chance to ask a good friend and Timberlake alumni, Cody Anderson, about his experiences serving as Seminole chief. Cody, now 21 is a junior at Appalachian State University, was a camper for 5 years and Chief for 2 years. Here’s what he had to say!

What was the most challenging part of leading your tribe? The best part?

The most challenging part was talking to the younger campers after we lost, the best part was being able to paint up 🙂

What made you want to be chief of your tribe?

The Seminole’s were not doing very well and there was not much leadership, so I guess I wanted to do my best to fix that.

What do you feel like you learned from leading your tribe at camp?

I learned that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but as long as you keep doing your best to do what is right, it all ends well.

What are you up to now?

Today I am currently the Water-Based Programmer for the University Outdoor Programs. I also lead trips (caving, rafting, backpacking, kayaking) through ASU OP. This past summer I worked as a raft guide on the Upper and Lower Animas River in Durango, CO, and was given the amazing opportunity to guide the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon with the Grand Canyon Dories.

Tell me a little bit more about that Grand Canyon trip.

The Grand Canyon was one of the most amazing, most challenging experiences I have had so far. I learned so much about boating, geology, ecology, and mainly, about how much I have to learn! I was on the clock 24/7 for 16 days, rowing an 18’ gear raft alone through all 294 miles, dam to dam. What an adventure it was!

How do you feel that your time at camp prepared you to lead in these other areas?

Camp taught me a great deal about who I am, through both positive and negative experiences. Camp showed me ways to healthily recreate, which is one of the most humbling things someone can do. Camp also showed me the impact that one person can have on another, teaching me how to interact & work with others, which are two of the most important skills a leader can have.

What was your favorite Evening activity? Favorite camp meal?

Easy, Battleball & taco in a bag, duh.

Favorite memory from camp?

The love the counselors show for each other and the campers.

To put some of what Cody said in perspective, he plans all of the waterborne trips for App State (a school of 18,000) University Outdoor program, and he was solo rafting (picture above) an 18 foot gear raft for 16 days, 284 miles down the Grand Canyon!  To say that I’m proud of Cody would be a major understatement. I’m thankful Cody is a part of the Timberlake family, and thankful that we at camp get to play a part in preparing these fine young men for the amazing adventures that await them!