Our Family Adventure at Camp Newaygo

Fall family fun weekends make a great "staycation"!

By Sarah Boucher, Publisher Macaroni Kid Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Muskegon September 23, 2020

This year we had big plans to travel. We had adventures planned for several weekends, and the kids were thrilled about the new experiences we were going to have. When our travel plans fell apart due to current COVID circumstances, disappointment was rampant among the kids (and myself as I enjoy our weekend getaways). Camp Newaygo to the rescue! Just a short drive north yielded an adventure the kids are still talking about weeks later! 

You might be thinking, "Summer camp? But it's fall." I thought the same thing, what could a summer camp possibly have to offer? A lot, actually. I learned that Camp Newaygo has year round programming and that it isn't just for kids! I also learned that the COVID guidelines put into place had zero impact on our ability to have fun. 

We arrived at the camp via a beautiful tree lined road and quickly found the lodge where we were meeting. We connected with Scott Lakin, Senior Camp Director, and he shared the history of Camp Newaygo with us while we decided on which adventures we would partake in as a family. First up was zip lining. The kids have been on small zip lines at local parks, but never anything quite like this. As a mom, I'm always concerned about safety, and the team at Camp Newaygo explained all of the ways they ensure everyone's safety on the zip line. Each person has two harnesses, with the second one making sure you do not flip upside down while going down the line. Helmets are worn as well, and carefully adjusted and double checked prior to proceeding toward the zip line. We climbed the stairs to the platform and took in the beautiful view of trees, creeks, and wildlife. My youngest quickly volunteered to be the first to zip. Before being connected to the line, his harness was checked again, the team relayed to each other via radio to ensure the staff at the other end of the line was ready, and away he went. 

The first time down the line, each of us was a little unsure of what the experience would be like and held tight to the harness line. By the time we were zipping down the second line, we were all very comfortable and enjoyed the view with our arms out to the side, giving the feeling of flying through the trees. 

After each of us completed three different lines, we headed down to the beach area. Along the way, we saw the area where many special events such as weddings and reunions are held. The wooden steps down to the beach area were tree lined, and the sun was glistening perfectly through the leaves. The beach area boasted kayaks, canoes, life jackets, a fire pit, and benches. The kids enjoyed walking the long dock to get a view of Pickerel Lake, one of the four area lakes visitors to Camp Newaygo can enjoy, and splashed in the water near the shore. While the kids played in the water, the Camp Newaygo staff readied the speedboat. 

As the weather was still warm and sunny, the kids opted for tubing around the lake. I opted to stay in the boat and enjoy the ride. The Camp Newaygo crew worked well together to drive the boat safely as well as have a team member spotting from the back of the boat so the kids could signal if they wanted to go faster, slow down, or stop. When each of the kids had a turn on the tube, we took a cruise around the lake to watch the sun beginning to set, and see all of the areas Camp Newaygo uses for day camp, special events, and family fun along the water.

As you'd imagine, we were all getting hungry at this point. The camp chef was ready for us near the tree house cabins with pizza pies to make over the fire. I had mentioned in passing prior to our visit that the kids love pizza pies, and that I would bring my own snack as I am gluten intolerant and I did not expect camp to make any accommodations for me. To my surprise, the chef provided a gluten free bagel for me so that I did not have to miss out on campfire fun. While waiting for the food to cook over the fire, one of the team members talked with the kids about the wildlife at camp, and showed them how to look for salamanders. She also shared in their enthusiasm for the frogs and toads that had been found during our adventures.

Our day went so quickly, and was well thought out, easy going, and fun from start to finish. The kids are already asking when we can go back again. Truth be told, I'm excited to go back again too!

Camp Newaygo is offering COVID careful fall family weekends through October 25, 2020. You can choose if you prefer hotel style accommodations, or more rustic camping accommodations. The camp executive chef will prepare meals for your family to enjoy, and can accommodate most any dietary need. When planning your weekend, you can choose from a variety of activity excursions to create your perfect weekend away. 

Camp Newaygo is all about providing positive experiences for youth and families, even during a global pandemic. If you are interested in learning more, check out the fall family weekends on the camp website, email, or call their offices at 231-652-1184. 

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