What’s a camp?

My two most recent posts have alluded to a big change in our household: we bought a camp.

Until I moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, (aka the U.P. and aka the Yoop), I’d never heard of a camp. Eventually, I learned what one was, and eventually after that, Sexy and I talked about potentially having one ourselves one day. We had no idea it would happen so soon.

What’s a camp?

Basically, it’s a rustic cabin located somewhere in the woods, potentially far into the woods. I think most people would call them a cabin. Growing up in a semi-touristy part of south central Wisconsin, they were often called cottages and located somewhere near the water.

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But the idea is the same: a rustic getaway. They are generally smaller and have fewer amenities that your average house, although some are certainly very, very nice—a lot nicer than our actual home, I’m sure. But the ones that I’ve been to are small, unpolished, and pretty well worn. Most have running water, although it may be gravity-fed from a cistern. Some, but not all, have electricity, which is often powered by solar panels or a generator that is run when needed. All—at least all of them that I’ve ever been to—have an outhouse.

I don’t know how Yoopers started calling them camps, or how far this phenomenon proliferates beyond the U.P., but it certainly is some type of shorthand for hunting camps, as most are used for this purpose. Generally it’s deer camp, and it there is a mass exodus to the the woods every November as people go to camp for the rifle deer season. But some people have camps for duck or goose hunting, and a lot of have camps just to have a place to get away. A lot of people live hours from their camp, like the Downstaters who come up just once or twice a year to visit their camps. But among our neighbors and friends, it’s not uncommon for people to have a camp that’s just 15 or 20 minutes from their home, which may be located in the woods as well. That’s the group we’ve joined.

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Our Camp

Our camp is actually a cottage, as that’s what the previous owner had called it to distinguish it from his other camp. (Some people have more than one; another friend has a deer camp and a duck camp.) It was built as a cottage on the shore of a lake, but due to some quirks of history and hydrology that deposited sediment in the lake, the building is now a quarter to a half a mile from the shoreline. Porch windows that once looked out directly onto the lake in the 1920’s now overlook a slough of cattails and lily pads, with forest in the background.

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There will be many future posts on the camp, so there is no need to cover all the details here. Instead, here is a little summary that provides most of the information that we tell people when they ask about it: The building is from the 1920’s, a one-and-a-half story building that is holding together pretty well, all things considered. It now sits on a good foundation, but past water damage means that the floors will only continue to sag more and more, and there is nothing that can be done about that; the building has a limited life span that is likely to end in 10-20 years. So, no, we aren’t going to move there, and the property floods seasonally anyway. There is 12+ acres of land, which is pretty much all floodplain forest, reed canary grass, and tag alder. There’s is a mowed area with some apple trees and a field. We’re still figuring out what to do with the property, but the main focus will be on wildlife habitat.

That’s it for now; stay tuned for more!

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