A Dream That Never Materialized

No, the Big Bass Lake Camp is not a reality at this lake. It was a one-time dream of mine for our former property that did exist during brief camping trips to that area for three clubs at various times of the year.

During the 1970’s and 1980’s our property on the southwest side of Big Bass Lake was used several times a year for camping trips involving three Boys Clubs of America organizations including those at Marion, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio, and Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Each trip was between seven and ten days in duration.

Our trips exemplified wilderness camping skill building. At the majority of summer camps across the country the offerings are similar to what you could find in your own communities such as tennis, soccer, and even swimming. Our trips were always in tents under primitive conditions. The boys learned how to build fire, cook their own meals, the proper use of a compass, how to purify water for drinking, and tracking skills.

At our wooded beachfront they erected three to four tents, dug two fire pits for cooking purposes, cleared the land of ferns, raked the beach, and hung two rope lines for clothes. Activities in this area including swimming and bathing, learning how to row a boat correctly, fire building, and cooking skills. They also learned how to use a hatchet correctly for collecting fire wood.

In our forest they played tracking games, had Scavenger Hunts, learned how to identify edible plants, gathered berries for meal preparation, and had numerous hiking experiences.

Three off site excursions were to the Lake Michigan Recreational Area halfway between Ludington and Manistee, to the Ludington Dunes, and to the Pine River near Wellston.

The boys always looked forward to a midnight voyage to the Haunted Island or to night hikes down the Bloody Antler Trail in the heart of the Manistee National Forest which surrounded our property.

After a camping experience at our property the boys learned about teamwork, character building, and how to survive in the wilderness. Many of the boys asked to return on future trips. And, it was for all these reasons why I had always dreamed of starting a Wilderness Camping Experience for various Michigan Boys Clubs of America organizations where they could come to our property for two week stays and learn much of what I have already outlined here.

That dream ended when our family chose to see my grandparents property. Yet for all the boys that did get to experience that dream in a somewhat smaller role, they still gleaned all that I could teach them about wilderness survival skills that many camps have abandoned. Boys, and also girls for that matter, need camps like this to retain what the original meaning of camping is all about.

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