Agenda for Reunion

The agenda for the camp reunion evolved over time. Initially, the core elements were: registration, the trip to Oyster Pointe and the Saturday night dinner. Other ideas were added over the months.

            Reunion Agenda

Official Attendee List

On the first day of registration several people dropped by to register, having just found out about the event. They had seen the articles in the Charlevoix Courier about the camp reunion and wanted to come to the activities. Even on Saturday some people came at the last minute, including Martha Sintz, the granddaughter of the camp founder, Lewis Reimann. Martha and her brother Tom Steding both attended.

In reviewing the list of attendees and the years they were at camp, the following was noted:

 • The average number of years at camp for all attending was 7 years
 • The number of years ranged from a low of 1 to a high of 16
 • Eleven persons spent 10 summers or more at camp

Some people came from as far away as Florida, California, Texas and Washington State.

            Official Attendee List

Charlevoix Courier Articles

Two articles were printed in the local Charlevoix paper. The first was the press release that Mike Grass (1953-62) wrote and sent to a number of local newspapers. Then on the Wednesday before the reunion, a longer article written by Christine Gwidt was published.

            Press Release
            Courier Article

State of Michigan Proclamation

Mike Grass suggested the idea of a State Proclamation for the reunion early in 2009. Mike initiated contact with Representative Kevin Elsenheimer from the 105th District and State Senator Jason Allen of the 37th District and he asked them to prepare and submit a proclamation to the state legislature. The special proclamation honoring Camp Charlevoix and the Reunion is linked below.

            Camp Reunion Proclamation

Registration - Friday

Registration on Friday went very smoothly. The activity began at 1pm and by mid-afternoon a good number of people had come in. Alice and Dan Ross had packets ready and in alphabetical order, ready to hand out. Alice and Dan had done a great job of preparing all the registration materials. About that same time, the rains started coming across the lake, so plans were made to move the evening outdoor cookout, at the pavilion near the lake, into the train depot building.

At registration, camp alums were given the agenda for the event, the official attendee list, materials from the Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce and a Camp Charlevoix T-Shirt. Dan had prepared a camp crossword puzzle, but we don't know if people took the time to fill it out. So, here it is in finished form.

            Camp Crossword Puzzle

Everyone was treated to a display of old camp photos and memorabilia that were put together by Dave L. Miles, the Museum Director for the Charlevoix Historical Society. Also some camp alums brought some of their own photos and memorabilia for people to see. Chuck Kearney had a large display and Kent Gibbs brought some things too. We were indeed fortunate that Dr. Jack MacKenzie, a member of the Historical Society Advisory Board was able to make arrangements for the reunion to use the depot. Part B below shows the Train Depot on a sunny day prior to the reunion. Truly a wonderful facility that we were fortunate to use.

Among those coming to the registration were several residents of Oyster Pointe, the former site of Camp Charlevoix. Viewing the old photo displays were Jean Popoff, Nancy Decastro and Mike and Denise Schlitt.

There were some people who had intended to attend the reunion but because of work or family situations they were unable to do so. Several fellows who sent their regrets (Steve Wardrop and Ace Hoyt) were long-time campers and also on the staff at camp. Their observations are worth sharing. Note photo of Ace at his daughter's wedding he included in his email.

            Photos of the Train Depot - Part A
            Photos of the Train Depot - Part B
            Photos of Registration
            Photos of the Displays

Camp Charlevoix T-Shirt

The camp T-shirt used the artwork that had appeared on the shirts of all campers and staff for most of years the camp was in operation. Clem Gill and his wife, Margo, had contacted me in the early months of the reunion planning to volunteer their services. Clem had recommended doing a camp T-shirt. I asked the Gill's to honcho this effort. Bill Townsend provided the initial artwork. The final design work was done by Clem and Margo, based on a camp shirt they still had at home. Shirts were produced exactly like the original t-shirts with the exception of a script on the left sleeve of each shirt that said Camp Charlevoix Reunion 2009. The shirts were a real hit.
            Camp Charlevoix T-Shirt

Cookout - Friday

The cookout was organized by Bob (Skeeter) Lohman. Bob made arrangements with David Phillips, former owner of the Grey Gables in Charlevoix, to cater the cookout. Bob had help from Spotty Adams, Russ Washburn, Chris Nyland and Cissy Walker (a well-known Charlevoix realtor and old friend from Back in the Day). The food was great, but the weather gods did not cooperate, so the event was moved into the train depot as the rains came down. What followed was a time of organized chaos as Dan and Alice Ross, Rebel and Rita Thompson and Russ Washburn and Bob Lohman assembled tables and chairs to seat the masses in the depot. Things were a little crowded, but no one seemed to mind as many ate and talked story the whole evening, except when the Charlevoix Community Men's Chorus was singing.

            Photos of Catered Cookout

The Charlevoix Community Men's Chorus

The Charlevoix Community Men's Chorus put in a special appearance at the start of the cookout and sang a repertoire of their songs. The Chorus, formed some 15 years ago by Dave Smith and Fran Tolas is about 20 strong. The performance was moved into the depot and under the direction of Dr. Vince Chew, the Chorus entertained camp alums and spouses for a good 20-30 minutes before dinner was served. The voices and acoustics were quite good. Everyone loved it.

            Photos of Charlevoix Men's Chorus

Registration - Saturday

Registration started at 9am with several people waiting at the doors at opening time. By 10am when it was time to load up the Mackinaw Trolley Company buses and head to Oyster Pointe, most people had checked in.

            Photos of Registration on Saturday
            Photos of Trolleys Loading Up at Depot

Oyster Pointe Visit

Plans to visit Oyster Pointe during the reunion were initiated in early August of 2008 with a conversation between Ken Boss, Manager of the Oyster Pointe Association property (and a good friend of Dan and Alice Ross) and Nancy Decastro, a resident of Oyster Pointe. In mid-August of 2008, Dan and Alice visited Oyster Pointe with Ken and photographed the property. There is a link below for these photos.

While visiting the old camp location was very important, Dan, Alice and I were most struck by the strong interest shown by the residents of Oyster Pointe in the heritage of the land they now lived on. This interest was translated into action during the course of the reunion and the visit to Oyster Pointe. To put it mildly...we were thrilled with the genuine interest and hospitality shown to the camp alums who visited their property.

On Saturday morning showers started, but that did not dampen the spirits of those on the Trolley buses. Alums and their spouses filled about a bus and a half starting at 10am and made their way out to Oyster Pointe, led by Dan Ross in the first Trolley. Ken Boss met the Trolleys there. Arrangements had been made to drop off all passengers at the property of Nancy and Patrick Decastro. People made their way from the drop off point down to the lawn that bordered the lakefront. Everyone walked along the shore toward the Marina, a site estimated to be about parallel to where the old rifle range had been located. A light drizzle fell during the tour, but it did not slow things down.

Following the visit to the shoreline, everyone got back on the Trolley buses and headed to the Oyster Pointe storage facility that is located on the site of the camp stable/barn years ago. Ken Boss led the Trolleys to the entry gate and opened it for the Trolleys. Mike & Denise Schlitt, Nancy Decastro and Jean and Frank Popoff met the Trolleys at the facility. They then offered to drive people through the trails leading back into the former camp area toward old Sneak-a-Leak Creek (see photo of creek below) on their Gator and Mule utility vehicles. Mike was designated the Trail Master for Oyster Pointe and had been active in restoring to use many of the old camp trails that crisscrossed the woods. Some people chose to walk to Sneak-a-Leak and take a I was told!

The utility vehicles also came in handy in a search and rescue role as we discovered at the site of the old barn that Dr. Kent Gibbs' wife, Carole, had gone missing. Search parties were sent out and Carole was found still having fun walking the lakefront property. It was thought she was looking for any For Sale signs around...

            Photos of the Oyster Pointe property - August 2008
            Photo of Sneak-A-Leak Creek
            Photos from the Oyster Pointe Reunion Tour

Box Lunch - Depot

Following the tour of Oyster Pointe, the Trolleys returned to the train depot and everyone was treated to a box lunch from Scovies in Charlevoix. The sandwiches were delicious and everyone chowed down before the next adventure on the other side of town --- the visit to Cabin 5 on the property of Gina and Dick Lepman.

            Photos of Box Lunching at the Depot

Cabin 5 - Visit

In September of 2008 I received an email from Dr. Don Kelly informing me that he had run into Gina Lepman, who lived near the Loeb Farm and that the Lepmans had one of the cabins that campers had lived in Back in the Day. I knew that some cabins had survived the demise of camp, but did not know that one was located so near to Charlevoix. Don immediately set out to arrange for a visit to ole Cabin 5 located near the Lake Charlevoix shoreline on the Lepman property. Richard and Gina issued a standing invitation to camp alums to visit Cabin 5. This visit was then integrated into the agenda for the reunion.

So, on Saturday the 22nd around 2pm, we once again loaded up the Trolley buses and headed to the Lepman property. In order to access the trail leading to the cabin, Gina allowed the alums to enter through the front door of her elegant home and into the terraced back yard and proceed down the winding path through the woods to Cabin 5 located near the lake.

As it turned out, several of the alums on the visit had actually been a resident of the cabin either as a camper or as a counselor. One couple, Dan and Alice Ross had actually used the cabin as their home for a summer when they both were on the camp staff in the late 1960s. Another alum, John Logie, the former long-time Mayor of Grand Rapids, told the story of how he had lived in this cabin for 3 summers running because he had actually started camp at age 5 - one of the youngest campers ever - and by virtue of his age was sentenced to spending three summers in the same cabin...Cabin Number 5.

Our host, Gina Lepman was wonderful. She was eager to hear the stories about Cabin 5 and of camp life and tell everyone about how Cabin 5 came to have a new home on her lake front property.

The real story, as told by Gina, was that the cabin was free for the taking, but whomever took a cabin had to pay for it to be transported away. The initial plan was to move the cabin intact from the camp location, across the ice in winter and relocate it on their lakefront property across the lake. The plan hit a big snag when the Michigan DNR advised them that if the cabin should fall through the ice for some reason, then the Lepmans would have to pay for it to be removed from the lake. Consequently, the decision was made to dismantle the cabin, log by log, and then reassemble it on their property. This was the rest of the story.

Everyone who visited the Lepman's home and cabin could have stayed many more hours telling stories.

            Photos of Lepman home
            Photos of Visit to Cabin 5
            Campers and Counselors from Cabin 5
            John Logie - Prisoner of Cabin 5

Dinner - at the Casino

The Grande Finale for the reunion was the dinner at the Belvedere Casino on Saturday. The final count for the event was 83 people representing camp alums, spouses, and friends of the camp.

Planning for the dinner started very early and was greatly helped by Dr. Don Kelley who stepped up as a Belvedere Club member and volunteered to be the reunion host for the dinner at the Casino. Don was immensely helpful in putting me in contact with the Club's Warden and the Dining Services Manager, Chris Jones. The Casino staff worked hard to make the dinner a success. The food was great and so was the service.

The start of the evening was cocktail time with piano music provided by Ken Smith. Julie Smith Thistlethwaite brought to the dinner a CD of piano music recorded by her father Ken, who was an excellent pianist, in addition to leading the camp in songs throughout each summer.

Group Photos

While everyone was enjoying a cocktail or two (for some it was three) Russ Washburn got his camera equipment set up in preparation to make a group photo. Prior to dinner being served all camp alums were asked to assemble on the back porch area for a group photo. While all were milling around Russ herded people into proper positions and was able to snap several shots despite much heckling from the participants. Many significant others snapped photos too resulting in many photos of people taking photos of others taking photos.

            Group Photos by Russ Washburn
            Group Photos by Others...
            Individual Photos by Russ Washburn

The Dinner

Dan Ross and Gary Murfin were the acting Masters of Ceremony. A number of people were recognized for their contributions to helping with the event. Julie Smith Thistlethwaite was asked to say a few words about her mother and father, Ruby and Ken Smith, the last owners of Camp Charlevoix. Also asked to speak was Tom Steding, the grandson of Lewis Reimann, the founder of the camp back in 1927. Tom's sister, Martha also attended the dinner.

Also recognized was Dr. Jack MacKenzie and wife, Carol, who represented the Charlevoix Historical Society. Jack accepted an old camp rifle that had been used many years at camp for teaching young boys how to shoot and compete in contests with other camps, along with a donation to the Historical Society for providing access to the old Train Depot for the reunion headquarters.

Another Charlevoix resident attending the dinner was entertainer, Eric Ernst and his wife Alice. Eric led the dinner guests in song and guitar playing in the latter part of the evening.

During the evening a 185-photo slideshow was playing with photos from camp days. The slideshow took 15 minutes to play and was set to a loop so all the photos could be viewed multiple times.

One contribution to the festivities that evening that went largely unrecognized, but should be mentioned here is the work done on the centerpieces at each table. Much time and effort went into the construction of the centerpieces by Dan and Alice Ross. For those who may not recall, the centerpiece was a pine tree round, cut personally by Dan. Each round was decorated with ferns; hand picked by Dan, and put in place by Alice.

Before the evening was over, John Logie addressed the dinner guests, surprising me and my wife Nancy with a special announcement. We had long planned to visit Mackinaw Island following the reunion and Nancy had always wanted to stay at the Grand Hotel so we had made a reservation there. His Honor Mayor Logie announced that contributions had been made by those attending to pay for the Grand Hotel accommodations. This was a wonderful surprise and one we greatly enjoyed following the reunion. John is a longtime friend of the Musser family who own the hotel, so in addition to accommodations, we were treated to a two-hour tour of the island in the Musser family private carriage with driver.

Our Thanks to everyone for such a lovely gift. We will long remember our Mackinaw trip and stay at the Grand as the guests of the camp alums.

The Belvedere Casino was the perfect venue for the event, providing a private dining setting, with great food and plenty of room for people to get up from their table and visit with those around them.

            Photos of the Dinner

A Big Thank You From Gary, Dan and Alice

The principal organizers of the 2009 Camp Charlevoix Reunion were Gary Murfin, Dan Ross and Alice Ross. We had lots of help over the course of a year pulling together the plans for the reunion and then executing on them.

Reunion Attendees - The first thank you really goes to all the alums and their guests who made the trek to Charlevoix to be at the reunion and make it a great experience for all who came. Our thanks to each of you.

And then there are the people who made individual contributions to the planning and execution of this event. We owe much thanks to you for making the event as successful as it was.

Dr. Jack MacKenzie - Charlevoix Historical Society - Jack was a supporter from day one of the planning and instrumental in securing the use of the Railway Depot as the location for our registration and cook out activities. It was the perfect venue and much appreciated.

Ken Boss - Property Manager for Oyster Pointe Association - Ken helped facilitate the visit to the Oyster Pointe property and was on hand to help with the tour of the property. Thanks for being there, Ken.

Dr. Donald Kelley - Belvedere Club Member - Don stepped up early on by volunteering to sponsor the reunion dinner to be held at the Belvedere Club Casino facility. Don also was instrumental in making the arrangements with Gina and Dick Lepman for the camp alums to visit Cabin 5 located on the Lepman lakefront property adjacent to Castle Farms.

Bob Lohman - Camper and Staff Alum - Bob took charge of the Friday evening cookout, securing an excellent caterer and rounding up a team of helpers to facilitate the activity. Although inclement weather forced us all into the Depot, every one had plenty to eat and had a great time visiting with each other.

Clem and Margo Gill - Camp T-Shirt - The Gill's were our T-shirt entrepreneurs for the event. They single handedly found the T-shirt maker, finalized the artwork for the shirt, made the order, picked the order up in Ann Arbor and distributed the final product at registration. And the final product looked like the real McCoy.

Mike Grass - Camper and Staff Alum - Mike and I frequently communicated about the plans for the reunion and it was Mike who spearheaded the Legislative Proclamation for the Camp Charlevoix Reunion.

Gina and Dick Lepman - Owners of Cabin 5 - Gina Lepman was a gracious hostess on the day that the alums visited her property to see Cabin 5. Gina had as much fun as the camp alums telling alums how the cabin came to be on her property and then hearing tales of camp days from fellows who had once lived in her cabin for one or more camping seasons. Everyone enjoyed seeing the cabin and meeting Gina.

Shelly Rowe Cole - Past Belvedere Family Member - Shelly was a great contact. She put me back in touch with several of the women who I had known at the Belvedere Club in the early 1960s. Shelly also put me in touch with her brother who lives in Charlevoix and he pointed me to the Mackinaw Trolley Company, the company we hired to transport the alums to Oyster Pointe and to see Cabin 5.

Russell Washburn - Camper and Staff Alum - Russ started helping with the reunion even before he knew it, since he provided me with many of the old photos of the camp that were placed on the website. Then at reunion time, Russ broke out his own camera and took many memorable photos that were made into DVD slide shows and shared with all who attended.

Eric Ernst -- Entertainer/Guitar Player - Eric came highly recommended as the guy who could put a little life into our dinner party at the Casino. Eric and his wife joined us for dinner and at the end he led the group in singing camp songs and playing some of his songs for all the dinner guests.

Dave Miles - Charlevoix Historical Society - Dave and his team worked behind the scenes to create a wonderful display of old camp photos depicting the camp from its early years until it closing in 1971. Everyone at the old Depot viewed the display during registration times, during the cook out and the box lunch.

The Decastros, The Popoffs, and the Schlitts - Residents of Oyster Pointe - We could not have asked for more friendly and gracious hosts for our tour of the old campgrounds at Oyster Pointe. These residents were eager to hear about and learn about the years of summer camping that had taken place on their property and the wonderful experience the camp represented for so many boys throughout the years.
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