From the time I was 11 years old until I was 19 years old, most summers I spent a week at Boy Scout Summer camp. Its called Owasippe Scout camp in Twin Lake MI, roughly 3 hours north of Chicago just north of Muskegon.
The camp is within the Manistee National Forest and is just beautiful country up there.
It has been a Boy Scout camp since 1911 though now its greatly reduced in size due to the lesser amount of scouts coming up there.
I first went in 1987, we boarded school buses at Lake Street under the El, right off of I-94 and proceeded to go to camp. The first couple of years I was apprehensive about camp but once I was 13 years old camp was fun.
You left on Sunday morning and came back on Saturday afternoon.
Once you got to camp you got your gear and hiked to your site but then quickly took the troop picture you see attached.
The first few years we stayed at Camp Blackhawk, the more traditional camp, you ate in the dining hall, swam in Big Blue Lake and it was the same camp my late father camped in a generation before me.
In his day they took the train up there before Interstates, 94, 80 & 196 and prior to that the scouts took a steam ship across Lake Michigan and hiked the four miles to camp.
I truly learned about enjoying the outdoors, camping, getting along away from home and starting my scouting career up there.
In the later years we stayed at Camp Wolverine, your meals were delivered to your campsite, which built more unity with your troop than the camp. But we had chores and had to operate more as a team.
Also we swam in a pool not in a lake, which was a more controlled environment but I tell you there is nothing like learning to swim with a mild current and fish at your feet.
They still had boating and other activities but by this time I was a senior scout, I had younger scouts to look after and who looked up to me.
I also had more downtime and especially the last year I attended camp I was 19 years old and considered an adult.
I spent a lot of time fishing with my late great scoutmaster (Arthur R. Young Sr.), and working around the campsite with our late great assistant scoutmaster (Arthur Cecil), those were great men who taught me so much. I learned about leadership, fishing and how to build a great fire.
As a younger scout you work on merit badges and have class just like school but its outside, you also have shooting sports to work on (both bow and arrow and rifle), as well as hikes, there is a ranch (the Diamond O), in downtime.
Of course there are campfires, the camp wide opening campfire Sunday night (to welcome to camp), and the closing campfire (to give awards), Friday night.
The camp was run by the Chicago Area Council (now called Pathways to Adventure), and staffed by adults and other senior scouts.
I have hours of great stories from being chased by bees, a raccoon stole my flashlight, fights among scouts (yes boys will be boys), and boat that lost its oars the middle of the lake.
Going to that camp was one of my best summer memories and some of the skills I learned up there I use to this day.
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