On June 11th, 2004 thirteen excited teen campers and six staff
happily boarded the Emerald Isle for a four-day adventure on Beaver
Island. After waving good-bye to kin, the campers settled in.
Games, decks of cards, and snacks appeared on the tables. Since
there were several new campers, they went up to meet Captain Mike
and help make sure the boat stayed on course. An hour out the
waves swelled higher, giving a rolling motion to the boat. The
kids did fine, some even enjoying the spray over the decks, but
a few adults became a tad bilious. They were glad to enter the
calm of Paradise Bay.
As the kids came out onto the sunny deck, I heard talk about
Big Blue and the Brown Bomber. Those are the two burbs
Gordie and Chris Heiikka have been kind enough to let us to use.
They are becoming a camp legend, and once we got our gear all
collected, we laded it and ourselves into them and Eleanor's van,
and took the short ride to Dalwhinnie.
There, Dawn and Gail greeted us with smiles, pizza hot from the
oven, soft drinks, and chips, followed by cookies and ice cream.
For those who could eat, it was all wonderful. For those still
recovering from the crossing, there were plenty of leftovers for
breakfast the next day. Sooooo, we piled back into the vehicles
and headed for the Lighthouse School.
Since it was a beautiful evening, after settling into our quarters
we strolled up to the lighthouse. In three groups we ascended
the winding stairs to the top. The view was magnificent: North
and South Fox Islands, as well as the mainland. Cards, games,
puzzles and conversation filled the evening. Since the 3-D puzzle
of the Empire State Building would need to be completed in only
three days, three master puzzle-workers set to work. Lights were
out at 10:30 so we would be rested for a full day of fun.
Saturday morning, after pancakes and sausage, we headed for Island
Airways. Pilot Neal Boyle got the first group loaded and strapped
in and off they went into the blue to see beaver dams, deer, the
Lighthouse School, schools of carp laying off shore, and a shipwreck.
To the delight of the campers Neal maneuvered the plane sharply
so they could see well. While half were up in the plane, John
and Keith let the others roam through the Brothers Place.
The campers loved the long porch with its swings and
dogs. I explained that we would be hiking from there later in
Having a half hour until lunch, we stopped by the Transfer Station
for an impromptu tour given by John. They liked the noise of the
new glass crusher. Most had never seen the colorful shredded plastic
in bins. They were surprised to learn that some of their favorite
fleece clothing comes from recycled plastic. Lunch at Stoney Acres
came next. Pitchers of pop and iced tea graced the tables, along
with tasty soups, salads, and sandwiches. Desserts were the order
of the day. It was a close vote between the hot fudge brownie
delight and strawberry shortcake, but the shortcake won.
Then, it was time to report in at the Beaver Island School to
meet Compass Ken and his able assistant, Patty. He
handed out rulers, maps, markers, and most importantly, compasses.
Since most of us had never even held a compass, much patient explanation
was required. Ken had us drawing lines and plotting courses in
Soon it was time to put our new knowledge to the test. We tried
it outside the school first. Eventually, we all turned like lemmings
in the same direction. So we headed for the forest behind the
Brothers' Place. Each group of two or three had a chance to lead,
with those walking behind suspiciously checking their compasses.
Stepping over fallen trees, through ferns, and nearly ON a fawn,
we slapped at mosquitoes and stayed the course
us to Font Lake! We were delighted to have completed the journey
thus far, and some even cooled their feet with a bit of wading
in the lake.
We refreshed ourselves with bug spray and charted a course that
would, hopefully, take us between two hills. Even though some
of us fell, we all made it to the appointed passage. Ken gathered
us around and pointed up the hill. Now, you don't have to
go up there if you don't want to, but the rumor is theres
a treasure up there. All you have to do is find the clue, set
a course, and find the treasure.
Before he had even finished speaking they were tearing up the
steep hill. It wasn't long until we poky adults heard a teen voice
crowing, I've found it! The bag was quickly opened
and spread on the ground for all to share. This was a difficult
trek for some of our campers and companions, and all were justifiably
proud of their accomplishment. Thank you, Ken, for a wonderful
By now, we were all hungry and glad to return to camp for steaming
hot lasagna and cheese bread, followed by birthday cake. Then
it was time to get a dance ready to go for the August camp. The
theme this year is New York, New York, so we are dancing
to Frank Sinatra. Listening over and over again, counting, trying
this step and that, slowly it began to take form. Then, too soon,
it was time for lights out!
Bacon and eggs by Chef Louie were the order for Sunday before
we left to meet Jim Gillingham from the CMUBS at Miller's Marsh.
Once again he educated and entertained us with information about
the Island's reptiles. Two little painted turtles were the stars
of the show. He showed how they had been marked to identify them
at a later time. As we walked along the edge of the Marsh, he
pointed out varieties of trees, where beaver had gnawed them,
and the secret world of newts and salamanders under fallen trees
and in soft ground cover. Mike proved adept at locating the little
rascals and even found a toad that Jim carefully placed in one
of his specimen bags for further study.
Then, we arrived at the habitat field. Under carefully seeded
cover the campers found three varieties of snakes, both male and
female, and a tiny delicate red spotted something or other, a
little beauty. The girls often start by saying they aren't going
to touch a snake, but Jim's enthusiastic presentation soon has
them holding a reptile of some sort
Jim left us to catch a plane, and we drove the short distance
to Big Rock and Big Birch for some group photos. Then, on to Larry,
Laraine, and Sweetie Dawson's place. After washing our hands,
and with Sweetie carefully kept inside (and grumbling about it),
we could safely sit on the porch and enjoy the sandwiches Dalwhinnie
provided, chips, Kool-aid, and three varieties of Laraine's homemade
After we had eaten all the cookies we could manage, Sweetie was
loosed for all to pet and adore. The kids were amazed at how big
she has gotten. We sunned ourselves for a bit and then headed
Once there we were efficiently fitted for bikes and helmets,
broke into groups, and headed our various ways. Everyone made
a stop at the Toy Museum for some keepsake to take home. Thank
you, Mary, for the cloisonné rings. They had a grand time
selecting exactly the right one as they sat around the table later
As we continued our ride around town, the sky grew dark and thunder
began to rumble. We turned in our bikes and scrambled into Blue
and Brown none too soon, for it began to pour. This made us worry
about the cookout planned for the night. Michelle LaFreniere flagged
us down as we were on our way back to camp. I'm still coming!
We arrived back at camp, the skies cleared, and we were ready
for a cookout. At 6:00 Michelle, Emily, Aubreanne, Mike, and Cory
arrived with the supplies needed for a delicious repast. After
commandeering firewood, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and fruit pudgy
pies were the order of the evening. But the coup de grace was
the baked banana with marshmallow and chocolate. S'mores are in
danger of losing their 'campfire favorite' status.
Cory played a few songs for us, and the girls reciprocated with
the Blue Bottle Song. We chatted, there were a few ghost stories,
and we bid our gracious cooks farewell for the evening.
Back inside, there was stuff to be completed. The Empire State
Building was nearly done. But, the dance, no.
We had to decide what to wear and practice. Since we would be
wearing top hats, we needed some to practice with. Hats
were quickly constructed from paper plates with the center cut
out. Step-brush, step-brush (16 counts) was imprinted into our
brains. We practiced until it was time for lights out. Ooooh!
Aaaah! we all exclaimed when the Empire State Building glowed
in the dark.
Monday morning found us busy trying to stuff our belongings back
into our bags. Sleeping bags squirmed loose as we tried to roll
them for travel. Then, it was time to go.
Upon arrival in St. James, there was time for ice cream and to
quickly explore stores that were missed the day before. Thank
you to all the merchants who were so generous to our kids and
to all who helped make this camp such a success. Beaver Island
is a wonderful place for us to visit. You make us feel at home.
The kids are already thinking of things to do next year. A visit
to the museums (many of them who visited before have graduated),
a round of golf, climbing Mt. Pisgah (we got rained out this year),
and on and on.
Thank you, thank you, thank you from Camp Quality.
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