This submission comes to us from Chuck of Wilmington, Illinois. He has written a story entitled “Courtesy of Lake Michigan.” According to Chuck, “the story summarizes summers on Lake Michigan with experiences that have carried over to life.”
Here is his story:
For me there are no childhood memories fonder than the ones spent on the shores of Lake Michigan. They began in 1976. My aunt and uncle invited me to go on vacation with them to a Lutheran retreat camp in Arcadia, Michigan. Arcadia is a little town that sits five and a half hours from Chicago in southwestern Michigan. It was a modest setup but magnificent nonetheless. Amidst an old inn, an indoor recreation area that doubled as a cantina of sorts, and homestyle cooking, stood the perfect opportunity for simple, good old fashioned family fun. The backdrop for all of this family togetherness was the beauty and vastness of Lake Michigan. No further than 100 yds was the distance from the old inn and the shores of the largest of the great lakes. It’s presence was felt everywhere on the grounds of the camp. It provided the natural lullaby of waves that put us to sleep when we were younger guests and the soundtrack for romantic walks on the beach as we grew older. It also provided all the sand one needed for sandcastle contests and churned up all the rocks one could ever dream of skipping in a lifetime. Petoskies (fossilized rocks) are found in abundance. Not to forget the most important entity the lake provided was a gigantic swimming hole. It didn’t matter how hot it was: the chilly Lake Michigan waters never disappointed.
After I returned home to Chicago after that first summer, I was determined that my family would make this their new vacation destination. Somehow it worked and I can’t remember another place we vacationed until my early high school years in the early 80’s.
My fondness for the lake grew each year. As beautiful as Lake Michigan could be though, it could turn up a storm at a moments notice and churn up an undertow that could put shivers in the spine of the best of swimmers.
On one occasion, I felt the potential wrath of the mighty lake first hand. I was out swimming when I became caught in an undertow. I tried to remain calm as I was carried out farther and farther. My father, watching from the shore gestured for me to swim parallel to shore. At first I was not certain of this idea. Eventually, by doing so, I got closer and closer to shore until I could walk in. After that, I added respect to the list of feelings I held toward the lake.
I felt that from this experience, I almost had some kind of weird bond with the greatest of the great lakes and a sense of self-reliance I had never had before.
From that time, I have never felt uncomfortable in the water. I have not returned to my summer getaway in almost 25 years. I am embarrassed to say that don’t even know if Camp Arcadia exists any more.
For me it does and always will exist in my of fondest memories. My visits to mighty Lake Michigan are not as frequent now, but my respect and fondness remain. As long as I live, I will never forget those summers and the experiences that I will carry with me for a lifetime. All courtesy of mighty Lake Michigan.
Thanks, Chuck, for sharing that delightful story with us!