TL’s Russell Horowitz Attains Pathfinder Status with a Waterfront Pavilion Project
By Adair Arbor and Jarod Wunneburger
“Going big” on epic challenges is part of Timberlake’s culture and its legacy. Nowhere is this element more plainly seen than in its ratings system, which allows campers to choose to pursue bonus challenges in various activity areas to test their skills. At the very apex of the traditional Ratings system is the mystical, nearly unachievable level: the legendary Pathfinder. About once a decade, a brave, dedicated camper reaches this goal, and this year, we are proud to welcome Russell Horowitz to the TL Pathfinder level!
What does it take to achieve Pathfinder? To start, it takes dedication from practically day one. To be eligible to become a Pathfinder, a camper must first achieve every other rating possible in every single activity area. With six activity areas and a beginner, intermediate, and expert rating possible for every activity, this is a years-long commitment. “The camper really has to set out to take this on as a nine-year-old,” says Jarod “W” Wunneberger, Timberlake director.
Once moving through all of the ratings, the potential Pathfinder must complete an epic capstone project that serves the community. These projects are ultimately anonymous--not signed or noted in any way—and they are often very important elements of Timberlake’s infrastructure that thousands of campers go on to enjoy. A few examples of Pathfinder projects at TL include the stairs in Ken’s Lodge and Ziggurat, the seating in front of the Upper Lodge.
Russell Horowitz, now 15, was one of those extra special campers with his eyes on the prize from the start. He came for full summers, committed to completing every rating. Back in summer of 2022, he spoke to W about his desire to complete his Pathfinder project, and the planning began. W suggested that what camp needed most was a waterfront project. Russell and his dad came out last May to walk the property with Jay Kullman, Sustainable Resource Director, and they settled on a plan to create a waterfront pavilion.
Russell came out in June to get started with his project while summer staff were still in training. Over the course of the summer, he disassembled an unusable cabin at the edge of the lake and transformed it into a covered platform with no walls to provide a gathering space for waterfront time.
Jon Schoder, an F&W alumnus, served as Russell’s guide this summer in his pursuit of Pathfinder. Schoder rearranged his whole summer in order to be on-site, in Russel’s cabin, as his mentor and coach, helping him work through road bumps and schedule work times.
Russell poured his heart and soul into his work, all summer long, through storms and a major flood and through the norovirus outbreak. By the end of the summer, he was left with only one final step: to attach metal roofing, which was on backorder. Timberlake celebrated his major accomplishment as a community in a beautiful closing ceremony, and he made plans to come back to camp for a day in November to finish the roof. Schoder some Timberlake staff, and campers joined him on November 10th to work and celebrate as the final pieces were placed: the old cabin plaques from the original Wolves cabin.
Now, during general swim, campers will be able to come together in the pavilion as they dry off from a dip in Woodward Reservoir. It will be a great rainy day space, which we learned this summer is crucial! Opportunities for future ratings-related projects will be opened because of the pavilion as well, like building furniture for the gathering space, or adding more intricate woodwork to the railings.
We are so proud of Russell for staying committed to his goal through extra-challenging circumstances, and so thankful to John Schoder for serving as his advocate and cheerleader. Russel’s hard work and dedication will now continue to serve the Timberlake community for many years.
Russell now joins the very short list of legendary TL Pathfinders!
Other known Pathfinders include:
Daniel Wolfson (who visited TL this summer!)