What it Means to be Burley

What it Means to be Burley

Burly | ˈbərlē | 

VERB (TO BE BURLY) – TO PASSIONATELY PURSUE LIFE, BEGINNING WITH GOD, WITH A DESIRE TO BE AT YOUR BEST AND SEE OTHERS REACH FOR THEIR BEST EVEN IN THE MOST DIFFICULT MOMENTS IN LIFE, BELIEVING GOD IS DEEPLY AT WORK AND DESIRING TO BE CONSISTENTLY INVOLVED IN HIS RESTORING WORK.

This definition was coined by a dear friend of Camp Highland, named Kurt Oakley. Kurt was a one-in-a-million kind of guy who had a real zeal for life and huge influence on everyone that he met. Tragically, Kurt’s life was taken at an early age. However, his memory lives on and is celebrated through this award.

** The Burly award is given in Honor of our friend Kurt Oakley who marked us forever with the Burly life he led while he was with us. * 1965-2003 * 

At the close of each week of summer camp, the counselors nominate just one girl camper and one boy camper to receive the Burly award. To be considered, these campers must totally and utterly exemplify everything that being Burly stands for. This is the personal account of how one particular camper was given the coveted title of Burly.


“When I first heard about Camp Highland from my step-mom and dad I felt hesitant about going away to overnight camp for an entire week. But after a little convincing I decided I would give it a chance and go. I got up really early on Monday morning and rode a bus to Camp with a bunch of other kids. It ended up being a lot of fun, but once I got to Camp I was back to being shy and quiet. That is, until I met my counselors Caroline and Justine. Caroline was really sweet and welcoming while Justine was really upbeat and funny! All of the other girls in my cabin were amazing! Throughout the week they all encouraged me to try my best and set goals for myself. My confidence started to grow and I found myself sharing with my cabin about my past and how it affected my relationship with Christ. I’ve been through a lot and it’s affected who I am today. Thanks to my entire cabin I feel like I have a better relationship now with Christ than ever before and I’m so eternally thankful! I can’t wait to come back to Camp Highland next summer”.

~ Camper – Emma

“Wow, this girl is amazing! I’m so proud that she got the Burley Award at Camp! So we started the week out by asking each girl what their word would be. This was a word that described what they wanted to work on while they were at camp. Emma’s word of the week was confidence. Emma really stood out to me on the first day of camp because she was quiet but really engaged. I quickly noticed that she would always seem to encourage each of the other girls in our cabin. One moment that really stood out to me was when Emma was faced with the challenge of climbing the tower. She was very nervous but felt compelled to do her best! She put on the harness and just wanted to get on the wall. Then she was willing to go further and climb up little by little. Once she got a quarter of the way up she decided that was enough and came down. I thought she was going to be upset because she didn’t go all the way to the top, but instead she gave me a huge hug because she was so proud of herself for making it as far as she did. Another moment that stood out to me was when we came back from the river and went on the field for some meaningful conversation with the girls. When it got around to Emma’s turn she exclaimed to everyone that she felt loved so well by her other campers. She was able to share a lot of personal matters too that have affected her over the years. She was learning to chase after God in a deeper way and be more confident in who Gad has made her to be. She realized that because of what she has been through she could now give that same love back and help others. Saturday morning when looking for Burly candidates she came to mind right away! I spoke with her mom and found out that she comes from a blended family but her mom said she is such a rock for her family. Her mom said that she had really hoped Emma would gain confidence by being at Camp. Well, was she surprised when she heard about Emma’s week! God is so good! 

~ Counselor – Justine

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