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Staff Appreciation  -  Well Update  -  AmazonSmile
Give to the Max Nov. 17  -  2016 Summer in Review  -  Back in the Day

Thank you, 2016 Staff!

Laketrails staffers enjoyed a well deserved respite on Aug. 6 at the 2016 Staff Appreciation celebration. Those who couldn't stay off the lake went tubing. Others gave their paddle-weary shoulders a break and received a massage. All were treated to a spread of appetizers, an expansive fajita bar and DIY ice cream sundaes with all the fixings. The meal was prepared by members of the Board and fleece Laketrails pullovers by REI were presented to staff members.

Board members Sam Collette and Jen McLarnan expressed thanks on behalf of the Board and reminded staff that whether they are seasoned Laketrailers or first timers, they are all part of the Laketrails family now. An evening boat ride and yoga under the stars capped the day perfectly. Thank you staff for a fantastic summer!

See more photos of Staff Appreciation on in this Flickr photo album. (Thanks to the following Board members for assisting with this year's Staff Appreciation: Koleman Brenner, Sam Collette and wife Rachel, John Ditzler, Blake Hatling, Trish Klein and Jen McLarnan.)

A thing of beauty

It may not look like it, but this humble device is going to make life on the island easier, more efficient and refreshing! It is the new Laketrails water well -- or at least the above-ground part of it. Not long after the last campers left, workers from Kolstad-Olson Drilling, from Cook, Minn., arrived. After drilling through 323 feet of bed rock, they found an ample water supply at 325 feet.

The well was completed thanks in large part to a $10,000 grant awarded to Laketrails from the Minnesota Department of Health. The grant had a 2017 deadline so it was imperative to finish the work this summer. However, we still need to raise $15,000 to cover the balance of the cost.

Please consider giving to this important cause! Click here to donate online or send your check to Laketrails, P.O. Box 25, Oak Island MN  56741
Support Laketrails while you shop at AmazonSmile

Your tan may still seem fresh but actually, the holidays are just around the corner! This year when you shop for gifts -- or any time you shop on Amazon -- you can give Laketrails a little present too. Simply use this link to get to and then bookmark it. Use this link every time you shop and Amazon will donate .5% of your purchase to Laketrails. You will still be able to use your same Amazon account -- your account settings, wish list, and shopping cart are all the same. Don't forget to spread the word and share Laketrails' AmazonSmile link with family and friends. Happy shopping!
Give to the Max on Nov. 17
Minnesota's annual Give to the Max day is Thursday, Nov. 17, a day when you can support non-profit causes that are important to you -- like Laketrails! According to the website, "Our goal is to create an unparalleled state of giving in Minnesota. We are constantly developing new ways to grow giving in Minnesota. And we’re doing it without making anyone peddle chocolate bars or serve a single rubber chicken dinner." It's easy to give. Click here and you can make a donation to Laketrails that will help us provide scholarships for campers who might not otherwise be able to experience the campfires, stars, the adventures and amazing friends that are all part of a Laketrails summer session. Thank you for your support!
Adventures, blueberries and bears all part of Summer 2016
By Sue Lemm, Camp Director

Sunshine, wind, and waves, paddling and portaging... Some things never change including the ingredients for a successful summer for Laketrails. This past summer was no exception with a great staff and plenty of fun-loving campers.

The season began as it has for the past many years with a very full session of enthusiastic Eagan SSI campers. All went well on trail until some big wind and waves swamped one of the canoes containing all the bread products for a trip heading (south) toward Rabbit Point. Looking with total dismay at the water-soaked box full of soggy bagels, Aleks, one of our new guides, proclaimed, “OK, I’ve been south. From now on I’m going North!” And with that statement, heading north seemed to become a recurring theme among the staff. There were numerous trips inside the Aulneau and the Western Peninsula, searching for the beautiful interior lakes and the secretive routes to points such as Lake of the Bays and Rattlesnake. Only one crew of canoes dared to conquer the long trip all the way around the Aulneau. However, not every trip needed to have an epic destination in order to experience the fun and adventure that is the heart of a Laketrails canoe trip.

As the summer continued, Laketrails enjoyed a slightly higher-than-average number of campers including numerous “random” campers. We were also fortunate to host the large groups from Eagan and Edina High Schools and additional small crews from Sacred Heart and Highview High Schools, Bemidji Boys & Girls Club, the MN Military Youth Leadership organization, and a new batch of campers from Apple Valley High School. In spite of a few summer thunderstorms, it’s safe to say that the teens and middle school campers experienced the excitement of camping and paddling through the Ontario wilderness while digesting a fair share of the abundant blueberry crop on the lake this summer.

Our middle school session was made extra special in 2016 due to a visit from the American Camp Association. Staff and camper workers worked hard getting the island in tip top condition which helped to impress the ACA crew and set the stage for another successful camp accreditation. Our visitors heard first-hand from one of our middle school campers how impressed kids feel about the Laketrails experience. When asked how camp was going thus far, MaKenzie Ditzler responded enthusiastically, “I’m having SO MUCH FUN!!” Needless to say, that’s just what the visitors like to hear!

Not only was it a good year for berries, it was also a good year for bears at Laketrails, at least in September. This was the month of our Artists’ Retreat which this year featured several writers, a painter, a spinner (think “old fashioned spinning wheel”), and two bears. Our Artist friends had fun concentrating on their various forms of art and learning from each other, and our furry friends were fairly well-behaved and confined themselves mostly to the sloppy crud pit and peaking in a few windows which kept everyone entertained. After the Artists left us, we stayed really busy for three days hosting three homeroom classes of 5th graders from Warroad. Each class of energetic students was accompanied by teachers and chaperones and came to camp for a single day focused on team building activities. Feedback was fantastic, and it was so fun we hope to make it an annual event throughout September including other area schools.

Staff who stayed in Base Camp this summer were kept busy helping with the ever present maintenance tasks on the island. Most notably, they shingled the roof on Bill’s cabin and painted the deck of the Lodge, no small feats. The final excitement of the summer revolved around the drilling of a well at Laketrails. After 65 years of drinking (treated) lake water, a 325 ft. deep well now provides good water for the island. Hurray!! No more chlorine in the drinking water, and a simplified water system to boot.

Our founders would be just a little bit proud that the traditions have been carried on, and that the camp continues to have a positive impact on our youth in a life-changing manner. All in all, it was a very successful summer for Laketrails. How to measure that success? The first campers for 2017 were already registering in October! Let’s keep that Laketrails Magic going!
Back in the day...a blast from the '90s
This look back shows the beginnings of a few of the buildings on the island and recall a former dinner time tradition. Mark Harren was the camp director then. Were you there in the '90s? Do you have fond (or funny) memories to share from any year? Please send your stories and/or photos to  There is nothing like a blast from the past!

(Photos clockwise, beginning top left: Kris Hughes, Josh Hutchinson and Ryan Casavan dig the foundation for the first laundry/shower house, called West Point; this group performed "Old MacDonald Had a Guide" in hopes they would win the after-dinner singing competition and avoid doing KP; Bill McGarry and Mark Harren check the view from the new outhouse they were building; the very first Eagan Summer Science Institute in 1993.)

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Watch for the next issue of The Portage Runner in February 2017!
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Laketrails Base Camp · PO Box 25 · Oak Island, MN 56741 · USA

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