The University Record, June 10, 1998

Michigania offers more than summer camps

By Rebecca A. Doyle

The Education Center at MichiganiaRoy Christiansen said he didn't sleep very well the last night of his stay at Michigania, the Alumni Association's retreat and conference facility in northern Michigan. "I was thinking of this problem we have and how it can be solved," he said.

Christiansen, a 1957 graduate of the Law School, was one of 21 alumni and retired faculty and friends who spent the last four days of May at Michigania on the Spring Ecology Tour. The tour included presentations by Biological Station Director James Teeri and Paul Webb, professor of natural resources and of biology, at both the Biological Station in Pellston and at Michigania.

The problem was the effect humans have had on the Earth and its inhabitants, and how people can adapt to living with nature instead of trying to conquer it.

Using Michigania as both a think tank and a presentation venue, Teeri and Webb talked about global warming and the atmospheric increase in CO2, and how those two incidents affect both the state and the world.

The quiet atmosphere at Michigania was an ideal backdrop for discussing with researchers the realities and possible solutions of a global problem. Birds and deer were regular visitors, reminding alumni that they share the space on Earth with others who have no say in how humans use its resources.

Poet Terry Wooten entertains at MichiganiaWithout television, stereo equipment, CD players or any large humming appliances, the silence at Michigania is compelling--and usually means a very good night's sleep for all guests.

In a few weeks, however, the quiet will be broken by the laughter and conversation that is part of the week-long camp sessions offered to Alumni Association members and their families. Squeals as warm feet hit the cool waters of Walloon Lake and yells of triumph as would-be Robin Hoods find the bull's eye on the archery range signal the start of the 11 weeks of summer sessions at Camp Michigania. As attractive as the 375 acres of woods and fields and 1.5 miles of shoreline on Walloon Lake are, alumni enjoy Michigania for another reason--the opportunity to continue learning in the Michigan tradition. Two U-M faculty each week talk about their fields to adult campers while younger family members are offered a variety of other activities.

During the other nine months of the year, Michigania's conference and retreat facilities offer a peaceful and provocative setting for programs that range from group retreats to conferences on national public policy. Spacious rooms in the Education Center offer an ideal setting for retreats for faculty and staff, and afford a non-distracting setting for conventions. In addition, Michigania staff offer special weekend programs like the Spring Ecology Tour throughout the fall, winter and early spring. Those programs are becoming more and more popular, says Michigania Director Greg Fleming.

Each program offered is "designed to provide an educational and recreational experience using the environment and setting of Michigania camp as a backdrop," Fleming says. "There is something very special about this place, whether people are here for summer camp; a fall, winter or spring program; or as a conference participant. They develop new perspectives and leave feeling refreshed."

CO2 levels of the futureIn beautiful new cabins that are built to take on a northern Michigan winter, guests at Michigania are snuggled in wood paneled rooms that are bright and spacious and only a short trek from the Education Center and a roaring fireplace fire.

Recently, Michigania hosted U-M students in Leadership 2017 and members of the Michigan Advancement Council for a three-day conference on common goals and challenges faced by the 15 public universities in Michigan.

Groups interested in holding retreats or conferences can call Fleming at (616) 582-9191 or send e-mail to michigania@umich.edu. Michigania has been owned and operated by the Alumni Association since 1962.