It’s not often that I witness the sparks of a dry beach fire evaporate into the milky rich warmth of a Leelanau sky, a sky that blossoms with placid clouds and colors of the setting sun on this fine night. It was Tuesday night of week 3 and twenty-something sticks at a time with marshmallows at end, some toasty tan, other crispy black, all stuck into the bonfire that both warmed the group of three-weekers and toasted up a fine assortment of flavorful smores.
Every smore unique to its creator: this reminds me of what happens at Camp Leelanau, most apparent in the final weeks of the summer sessions. Boys break free of their shell and express a complete and individual continuity of who they are after a few weeks pioneering this Leelanau realm. Some boys muster and chatter about memories to new friends over the sweet and soft crunch of marshmallowy graham cracker and oozy chocolate, others run up and down the damp and sandy beach shore trying to avoid the crest of crashing waves, yelping at the chilly water that reaches their toes, some even dare to jump onto Mitchell Wyly and grab on for their dear lives in a game of hold-on: moments like these make the days last forever, but also cause the weeks to simply fly by.
The final week of the three-week session has come and gone like the summer’s own solstice; Camp Leelanau was blessed with long and sunny days but also with another quick week. It’s hard to imagine that new boys like the Garrison brothers, Jon White, or Chris Hronick were saying goodbye to their parents, wondering just how long these thee weeks would last. The sunny days were packed from the sun’s morning rise that trickled through forest gaps, to its lazy fall over the Manitous in the eve. This week was no exception to the great Leelanau summers we always witness here on this land.
The boys welcomed counselor Steve Creighton onboard to the summer staff, who just as quickly swept off the property with Weldon Rutledge and the CT’s for their week long trip into Canada. They attempted the high flowing and mighty White River in the province of Ontario, leaving them all with adventures they’ll be speaking about for years to come.
And although the spirit of Leelanau stretched across the countries boarder, the same energy filled the camp with the first full week of regularly scheduled activities. Junior sailers took advantage of the calm and shallow waters of Glen Lake and the current of wind that slinks over the Sleeping Bear Dunes just across highway M-109; the combination makes for smooth and safe sailing for the juniors. The entire junior section went on an excursion of their own, packing up and jumping onto Big Blue for a night in the woods to compete in the Junior Flag Trip; camos, capture the flag, meals in the wood, and team spirit. These young boys witnessed team competition that only Leelanau offers. A group of six older boys took a pickup full of bikes and gear, traveling south to Manistee county’s Big-M trail for a day of peddling with trip counselors Eli Sinkus and Eric Olsen.
An on-camp cabin day was full of creative endeavors, taking advantage of beautiful Leelanau Peninsula. The cabin of Shawnee put their creative minds to work and made cardboard planes in the RCA pole-barn and then did their best to fly them (no worries, the kids were not on board) off the Kohahna’s bluff. Shoshones took a bike ride and refreshed the curious travelers of Port Oneida Road by serving ice-cold lemonade at a stand (counselor Max Warner’s car with a large sign on it reading, “LEMONADE”) off the side of the road. Other cabins followed initiative-based scavenger hunts through the camp property and searched for the ship wreck in the waters off of Pyramid Point’s high bluff.
The camps energy became even more charged when weekend arrived. The boys celebrated with a banquet dinner on Friday evening, followed by a slideshow that recapped this summer’s first session at camp. Shortly after the boys made their way to the funny awards fire, where moments of laughter and growth were shared through giving creative awards made by wood, marker, paint, shirts, and a bit of inspiration. For the Leelanau boys who attended this session these are the summer days not to be forgotten, and only the beginning of an even more intense second session.