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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.”

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    Sounds like a cool idea.