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On the Outdoor Adventures Club’s excursion up north, students could hike in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Caroline Hennekes | Courtesy

Hiking, climbing sand dunes, spending frigid nights in tents, and cooking food over a campfire may not be the most comfortable way to spend fall break — but for the 54 students who did, it was a restful change of pace from midterms and papers.

“It was nice to kind of disconnect,” freshman Caroline Hennekes said. “Definitely not the best nights of sleep, but it was worth it. The trip was restful in other ways.”

For the second year in a row, the Outdoor Adventures Club organized the camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a national park near Traverse City, Michigan. Students loaded into 12 cars to drive four-and-a-half hours northeast on Wednesday afternoon, then drove back on Saturday.

Students had to pay just $25 each to cover gas, dinner for one night, fuel, and firewood, said junior Emma McCormick, Outdoor Adventures Club president. McCormick said 21 more students attended this year, which encouraged her, especially considering the forecast for rain.

“It was a great time of bonding,” Hennekes said, noting that huddling around the fire at the campsite was especially fun. “The leaves were just starting to change. It was the perfect weekend, really.”

Students chose what they wanted to do there, McCormick said. Some went hiking, climbed sand dunes, and took scenic drives along Lake Michigan. On Saturday, a group drove into Traverse City.

Junior Mark Compton said he appreciated the time to bond with other students — especially during hikes up sand dunes.

“You have to walk up these giant dunes together, and you haven’t showered in who knows how long, and you think ‘I guess we have to be friends now,’” he said. “The trip was a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be.”

Compton said one of his favorite memories was hiking up a dune with friends on the first night and stargazing.

“It kind of set the tone for the rest of the trip,” he said. “It was exhausting physically but mentally so refreshing.”

McCormick said running down the sand dunes was a fun way to unwind: “You feel like a little kid running down the dunes. They’re super steep, but you don’t have to worry, and you can go so fast, windmilling your arms. You feel like you’re going out of control.”

For Hennekes, the trip was her first camping adventure — and not her last, she said.

“It’s definitely not going to be my last time camping,” she said. “I wasn’t ready to come back.”