By Jon Gray
My summer break was spent up on the shore of Lake Michigan, specifically in the town of Petoskey. I make the eight-hour drive almost every year, and I stay up at my grandparents’ cottage in Bay View, a smaller offshoot of Petoskey itself. The neighborhood is a tightly-wound community based around Methodist Christian ideals. The Bay View Association was founded in 1875 in order to support “intellectual and scientific culture and the promotion of religion and morality.” The area features a church, a theatre, and various buildings dedicated to liberal arts education. One of the major features of Bay View is Ernie Gray’s Boys and Girls Club, a summer camp organization. The camp was founded in 1931 by Ernie Gray, who is also my great-grandfather. At the time of its founding, the Boys and Girls Club had 8 campers in total. The camp now provides recreational opportunities for over 200 children, from the ages of 3 to 14. There are also job opportunities for those who have advanced past the 6 age groups, in which teenagers are able to work as camp counselors, or as instructors for the various afternoon activities at the beach. Although I did work the previous year, this year was my first year receiving paychecks for my work as a counselor and instructor.
When a teenager applies to and receives a job at Bay View, they first works as an LIT (Leader-in-Training). LITs are sent to work at each area of the camp in order to gain experience working with each age group. The four main areas of work are Tot Lot (3-4 year olds), Fawns (5-6), Craft House (various groups), and the larger “Club” (7-14). My time last year was spent as an LIT, moving around each group. Along with my LIT job in the morning, I also had the opportunity to work as a sailing instructor during afternoons. The sailing program was also sponsored by the Bay View Association, along with swimming and tennis. The afternoon programs take in kids from all age groups, although some activities have a certain age or skill minimum, such as sailing or high-level swimming.
I spent this summer working with four and five year olds. I decided to choose Fawns because of my fun experience working as an LIT there. While Tot Lot had some memorable moments, I still preferred the children that I worked with at Fawns. I also received a recommendation from the head leader at Fawns, praising my apparent “work ethic.” The days at Fawns were usually planned out the week before, and based around various themes. The themes wer
e unique topics, and were relatively interesting and educational compared to what kids may be taught over the regular school year. One week may be about travel, and the days would go through the various parts of traveling between countries. One of my favorite weeks was Pirate Week, where the kids learned about historical pirates. Pirate days had the kids embark on various adventures around Bay View, including a treasure hunt at the beach and sword battles at the Fawnhouse.
My grandmother likes to remind me of how lucky I am to be able to have all of these great experiences in my life. I have acknowledged that luck, and will continue to remind myself of how fortunate I am to be able to go to Bay View. I am extremely lucky to be able to make that eight hour drive to a beautiful place that I will always consider to be my home away from home.