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It was an adventure to remember
January 27, 2010 - Linda Lobeck
Camp Batawagama has been in the news a lot over the past couple of months as Iron County officials have tried to create a new framework including creating a county department for the youth camp and setting a salary for the camp director. My feelings about this issue are rooted a little more deeply since I have only great memories of being at that camp when I was younger and spent two summers there. Until you have experienced Camp Batawagama, you can’t really understand the importance of having such a facility available in the Upper Peninsula. My older sister had already attended the camp and loved it. I was in the sixth grade and looking forward to my first real week away from home. From Gladstone to the camp, it seemed like it was a long trip to get there. But I remember the excitement of meeting other campers and attending the opening ceremony that first night. Everything — from sleeping in the cabins in bunks and having an older counselor to taking part in the many activities offered — was truly an adventure for a young person. We went on an overnight camp out, listened to ghost stories, went hiking, learned archery, took swimming lessons, learned how to canoe, and did arts and crafts just to name a few. Other fond memories of camp included singing songs accompanied by Lou at the piano and at the end of the week, a dance with the boys. No camper that’s ever attended hasn’t remembered the familiar tune, “Down The Road a Piece,” which was sung throughout the week. "Down the road a piece in the middle of the woods, there's a Youth Camp, Batawagama. Down at Indian Lake there's a camp that takes the cake. It's the Youth Camp, Batawagama. Well, if you want to swim or sing a song, here's your second home just as sure as you're born. So hail (hail), hail (hail), the gang's all here, At the Youth Camp, Batawagama. Oh B-A-T-A-W-A-G-A-M-A!" Pronounced Bah-tah-wah-gah-mah, the camp is named after the Ojibwa word for land between two lakes — Chicagoan and Indian lakes. The camp has been around for 60 years and it’s nice to know that people still value that experience for young people. Whether they attend one of the one week sessions or go to the band camp, it’s a growing experience for all involved. Support groups have been formed for the camp including a recent one on Facebook organized by Jayni Angeli for Western yoopers — now up to 604 members. Now that I know that two of my fellow workers are also Batawagama campers, we can get together to sing songs around the fire, tell ghost stories and pledge to keep the secret words from the opening ceremony safe for future campers.
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Camp fire sing-alongs!