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Aqualand Water Ski

Water ski used at Camp Timberlane for Boys in Northern Wisconsin, 1962.
(Museum object #2003.115.1)

Aqualand Manufacturing Company of Woodruff, Wisconsin, began making wooden water skis in 1961 and often sent their products to nearby Camp Timberlane for Boys for feedback on new designs. Aqualand made this slalom water ski for camp counselor Howard M. Berliant based on his specifications in 1962. Berliant used this ski singly, somewhat like a snowboard or surfboard, for skiing around buoys, a sport also known as slalom skiing. Unfortunately, after only using it four or five times, Berliant suffered a shoulder injury that prevented him from water skiing again.

At the time the ski was made, Aqualand had five employees and only made wooden water skis. Its earliest brands "Hydro-Hi" and "Aquala" lasted a year, replaced in 1962 with "Aqualand." The company continues today, but now primarily makes metal products for boating and recreational use, such as piers, docks, boat lifts, charcoal grills, and spiral stairs.

Camp Timberlane for Boys is also still in existence. Harold Hiken, its founder, loved summer camp as a boy, first as a camper and later a counselor. He finally realized a lifelong dream to build his own camp in 1961, when he purchased Edlee’s Timberlane Resort on Lake Towanda near Woodruff and began to modify it as a camp. By the time the first thirty-seven boys arrived the summer of that year, Hiken had bulldozed trees for an athletic field, cleared a swim area, and built a lodge. Berliant became a counselor that same year and continued to serve in that position through 1963.

Though Hiken sold Camp Timberlane in 1986, he could not stay out of the camping business for long. In 1989 he purchased Camp Agawak for Girls located just south of Minocqua in Oneida County. Both camps supported his philosophy "to provide a place for every [child] to express himself in the manner best suited" to that child and "to give [each child] a chance to learn to live with…and respect other people."

Posted on July 21, 2005

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