Bay Cliff Health Camp presentation at Golden K

Clare Lutgen, left, executive director of Bay Cliff Health Camp, accepts a $400 donation from Golden K to the camp from Orice Walters, Golden K program chairwoman.

KINGSFORD — Don Pedo, chairman for May, opened the Monday Golden K meeting. Alyce Derwinski took over from there, getting the piano keys rocking with some favorite “oldies.” Under the direction of Al Calcari, singing soon took over and filled the room with melodic voices. “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “In The Good Old Summertime,” and “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” were a few songs that helped brighten the day.

They welcomed guest speaker Clare Lutgen and wished “happy birthday” to Ron Jouppi on May 7 and Diane Aune on May 8. Golden K member Mary Jane Nelson put on her best “happy” smile and collected her winnings from the 50-50 drawing. “Happy Dollars” reflected thoughts of sunshine, getting to be another year older and healthy and grateful for all of the guests speakers who bring the group news on community events locally and outlying areas, as well as keeping them young when the students take their time to bring their musical talents.

Gilbert Engel reminded the Golden K it is that time again — road cleanup. Scheduled after the Monday meeting, members are asked to assemble behind Pizza Hut. Be sure to dress accordingly for the weather, bring gloves and spray for ticks. More hands mean the cleanup will go faster.

Orice Walters, program chairwoman, introduced Lutgen, executive director of Bay Cliff Health Camp. Having taught in the public school system for 29 years, Lutgen found herself pondering a change of venue. Her husband noticed an ad for a director at Bay Cliff and planted the “seed” in her ear as he packed and left for an ice fishing trip to Big Bay.

Raised in the Marquette area and owning property in Big Bay, the Lutgens were quite familiar with the Upper Peninsula. A move from Indiana, a job change in an area they both loved, seemed to be calling to them. Although the entire application wait and final call took a long time, it has been well worth it. Lutgen, new to this kind of responsibility, soon learned it is more than a job — it is a labor of love.

Operating since 1934, Bay Cliff has opened its doors to countless people with varying limitations from 3 to 17 years old. A staff of 140 to 150 work with the campers daily, giving them an opportunity to overcome some of their inhibitions and “do what other kids do.” The young people are fed, clothed and given camping experiences at a minimal cost to the family. Bay Cliff is funded entirely by donations — individual, private, fund raising events and/or organizations.

Golden K is one of those organizations and is able to donate yearly to Bay Cliff with the support of this area and surrounding communities through the fall peanut fundraiser.

Through Bay Cliff’s intensive program of daily therapy and traditional camp activities, children learn to become more independent. They are inspired to believe in themselves and their futures.

The staff is carefully selected and professionally able. The health, well-being and safety of camp participants is foremost in all activities and training sessions.

The camp buildings and grounds are constantly upgraded to insure all campers, regardless of their physical limits, get around safely and by themselves, always under the watchful eye of the staff and volunteers.

Helen Keller wrote, “Alone we can do a little, but together, we can do a lot,” which is the motto Bay Cliff strives to function by.

There are a variety of camping opportunities available year round. “Kids learn they can do what ‘other’ kids do,” Lutgen noted.

There are many ways to donate to Bay Cliff and the camp encourages people to come for a visit. Attendees are asked to call first to be sure accommodations are made if the visitor plans to be there for a meal. Take a summer day and see for yourself the amazing transformations that occur with these campers as they face their challenges head-on.

The Golden K meeting Monday will have a program on the Honor Flight. This is another great opportunity for veterans to experience and one that many in this area already have been privileged to experience. The program starts at 10:30 a.m. in the fellowship hall at the First Presbyterian Church in Kingsford. All are welcome.

The Golden Throats sing Wednesday at Freeman’s in Kingsford.


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