Camp Anokijig hums with activity as over 300 kids learn outdoor skills

Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

The nice thing about writing two different Sheboygan County weekly newspaper columns over the years, as well as providing a weekly show on the City of Sheboygan’s WSCS Community Cable Television, one can often promote worthwhile nonprofit organizations; especially youth, conservation and service groups. And, from time to time, get a surprise call from one of them to “come on out and visit”.

That happened recently. Mary Krahn, an administrator at Camp Anokijig, an outdoor camp located on the beautiful shores of Little Elkhart Lake, called to invite me to take a tour while the kids were still at the camp enjoying summer at its fullest. We quickly agreed for 9 a.m. on Friday, August 26. Because most readers may never have the chance to see the camp when in full force, I thought it would be nice to share my two hour experience.

I met Mary Krahn and Jim Scherer, Camp Director, at the main lodge’s dinning and office area. Scherer reported that they had 331 campers this week, and about 50 plus regular staff (many who came through the camp’s extensive ongoing summer training program). As we crossed through the rustic large logged dinning hall to start the tour, a singing group of about 20 kids were practicing. Just outside the building, about a dozen other youth were learning how to play a musical instrument. The place was humming and so were the kids.

Camp Anokijig is a large camp so I was happy to see we would ride a converted golf cart to the different locations; first it was off to the water front. On the new fishing pier recently provided by the Sheboygan County Conservation Association, about 15 young kids were busy fishing for panfish. Another group, using two types of sail boats were busy learning the art of sailing near the island located at the end of the bay. There were also kids in kayaks and canoes, all learning the skills and water safety. In each area, staff were moving back and force in support and of each group.. The swimming area was just beginning to become active - late morning and throughout the afternoon, water and air temperatures tend to be best for this activity.

A short distance away, some campers were playing a type of ball tag while others were learning the skills of fire building. From here we headed to the two large archery and pellet/BB gun ranges - by the activity, obviously both very popular. Nearby, we visited the craft shop, woodworking (hand tools only) area and photo/camera skills building - I was impressed by the amount, type and quality of the products produced. They were having fun but also learning.

The nature center had a nice selection of live critters on display (fish, turtles, frogs, etc), displays for identification of animals and birds, as well as high and low tech learning equipment dealing with wind and sun power, and cooking and baking equipment using only the sun.

Of course, with hundreds of acres available for hiking, camping, and horseback riding, it was important to see some of the trails, a small fishing lake (catch and release) and the horse stables.. Interesting, the camp does not buy horses, but they own 46 animals, all donated and all will freely moved on to a good home when an individual horse can no longer be used for riding..

We visited a number of campfire locations, Tuttle Chapel, Trading Post, Health Lodge (seen from the outside) staffed with a registered nurse, parade grounds, tent/cabin areas and more. The nearly two hour tour past all too quickly - it reminded me of my summers at a local Boy Scout camp. Memories certainly can last a lifetime. This camp is also special because it protects about half the lake’s shoreline and well over 300 acres from development.

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