Camp Newaygo: A Special Day, a Special Place

Camp Newaygo: A Special Day, a Special Place

It was a chilly Saturday morning for late April but I knew the Tai Chi would warm me up. It was the second in a series of free classes offered through the AmeriCorps Safe Routes to Health initiative at Camp Newaygo. The class, like the first one, was to be held in their new Health and Leadership Lodge, in a large room with picturesque views of the Wetland Trail.

I’m actually writing about another event, but feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the new lodge which offers Newaygo County and West Michigan residents yet another great rental option at Camp Newaygo for meetings, parties and the like. Things are really happening out there and you ought to check it out.

Full disclosure; I work for Camp Newaygo’s parent company, TrueNorth Community Services and was asked to spend some time there on Saturday, April 27 to photograph their annual Enchanted Forest event. I also have to admit, as a 52 year-old male I’m NOT the target audience for this event. Local artists and crafters spend a great deal of time creating miniature “fairy houses” and “gnome homes” which are then strategically “hidden” on the beautiful grounds of Camp Newaygo, along several trails. Families bring their young children, girls and boys, to hike the trails and “discover” these magical dwellings along the way.

Fairy house in forest

Three things about this event really struck me as particularly cool.

  1. The houses made by the volunteer artisans are amazing! They range in size and scope from simple hollowed out gourds to multi-floor dwellings complete with chimneys, decks and porch swings.
  2. It is really, really cool to see kids outdoors, hiking and squealing with glee upon “discovering” a magical fairy house hidden in the woods. There’s something really special about seeing children young enough to still have their innocence intact, who still believe in magic in this environment… and to see their parents and grandparents experience the whole thing with them. There were little girls and boys with fairy wings on and even some adults!
  3. The grounds of Camp Newaygo really are beautiful. Most people probably only know Camp Newaygo as a girl’s summer resident camp, but in recent years they have added so much more to their year-round programming. Everything from co-ed day camp, to a long, high, 3-section public zip line. They offer a number of public events for adults and children alike to experience the beauty of this local jewel in the woods on Pickerel Lake. It has become a hot-spot for “destination weddings” due to their beautiful rustic setting, available top-notch on-site catering, and a multitude of overnight lodging options.

Children with fairy wings

My take-away was – I really want to bring my grandkids to this event, while they’re still young enough to appreciate it. I also want to encourage readers to check out any of the public events at Camp Newaygo. It’s right here in our back yard… waiting to be discovered.

by Chris Kuebler

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