For 3 generations our family has made a yearly voyage to Pentwater. For one week our family has joined countless others in a week of relaxation, together, Spirit, and most importantly, family. This retreat has been at a magical circle known as United Methodist Church Camp. The Methodist flame burns brightly each wonderous week. I have attended well over 20 years of this Pentwater family time.
With the name comes a sense of unity, spiritual surroundings, and a nod to the Methodist motto, “Open Door, Open Hearts, Open Minds”. Money is funneled to the camp for financial support with daily runnings to structural assistance. People each year aid in the Winter cleanup; building tables, mending fences, etc. The camp sports both a family camp and various weekly camps for kids. Nestled in the woods on the Northern shores of West Michigan, the camp is a natural sanctuary of peacefulness and solitude. A perfect place for family rejuvenation.
This year upon driving in, all noticed the new sign and name change. Gone is the tribute to all that brought us to this place. The new name erases it all, Lake Michigan Camp. My dad often touched up paint on the old Methodist sign. I wish I could say that the name change is the end of the “improvements”. A so-called bathroom upgrade left us with barely bathroom “stalls” (term used loosely), no counters, and gross shower floors. We have all over Michigan and this bathroom would rank in my top 3 worst list, only behind two with vault toilets. But I was not paying $28 a night for those sites. Yes hot water, but the old was better than this “new”.
Another point of contention was the 3 roll a stall per day “limit”. Really? In a camp with over 100 people there 6 nights and many in tents?! The friendliness of the workers and director are also gone. Our group has always taken turns with daily restroom cleanings, but when the group is accused of taking toilet paper for other than #1 or #2, hearts were hurt. On my day 3, I used 13 squares. I felt like Elaine on Seinfeld!
I believe the men had it the worst. The shower curtain for a stall door only went up 3 feet. Any average to above average height man would unfortunately be reduced to #2 business with onlookers seeing every facial grimace to wipe. Not something most wanted to contend with.
The nostalgia factor of the camp lives on for many, but unfortunately took a blow to the spirit. Maybe next year the drive in will be met with some friendly faces, a truely upgraded bath facility, and a spark back in the Methodist flame. If not, I hope the Methodist Council looks to fund a more deserving camp.