My up north adventures began long before I was born. My grandmother and grandfather raised their 8 children in Petoskey, and my parents, both being teachers, knew early on that they wanted to buy a cottage in Bay View for their summer break. The years I was three and four, they rented a cottage for the "season" (the eight weeks when most of the community is present). When I was five, they bought a cottage on Hemlock. It was a four bedroom, 1.5 bath adorable box with a teeny kitchen, no washer and dryer (very few cottages had them until maybe 10 years ago), and strawberry wallpaper in the dining room. It was kitty corner from my bestie's cottage and next door to one of the "hot" older boys (though I didn't figure that out until much later!). It had a porch swing and wicker furniture all decorated in pinks, greens, gingham, and florals. We lived there for 9 years, and there is SO much that I loved about it. We did have older, grouchy neighbors on one side, but the rest of it was perfect!
My parents were divorced when I was 11, and the year I turned 14, they decided to sell the cottage. I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision for them and I think both of them completely regret it in hindsight. After that summer, I started spending each summer with my grandmother. Gram lives about 3 blocks from BV in a year round house that she and my grandfather built when they were first married. It was easy for me to just ride my bike to my friends cottages, work, etc., and I was so happy to still spend summers up north, that I didn't care what I had to do to obtain it!! Because I spent 8 summers with my grandmother, we are incredibly close, and I'm so glad it worked out the way it did. Living with someone just allows you to understand and know the other person on a much more intimate level, and that's what happened for us! Let me tell you that the summer after I graduated from college and had a real job, it was awful!!
During the season, there is a ton that goes on. Kids between the ages of 3-14 all attend club. Club is like a day camp from 9- 11:30 with swimming, sailing, and tennis lessons in the afternoon. The kids are all divided up into different age groups (about 20-30/group and the groups are mostly in two year divisions (ie 13-14 year olds together)). There is a summer music program for graduate and doctoral music students so there are amazing concerts every Wed and Sunday nights as well as many Friday afternoons. There is a musical and an opera at the end of every summer which are much better than the average local production due to the music students and faculty. While kids are at club, there are Ladies' and Mens' days at the tennis courts as well as Women's Council and Morning Council (volunteer activities and social groups). There are multiple Bible studies that go on throughout the summer, and there is a visiting minister who comes each week who speaks on Sunday and then lectures each morning. There are book groups, shuffleboard groups, croquet groups, etc. There are tons of committees to get involved in (education, recreation, historical preservation, arts, etc) and most BV members are actively involved in something. I also have to say that it is a very tightly knit community who truly care about each other and the sense of community that so many "winter" communitites lack. I wish I could take the cohesiveness of BV and translate it into everyone's lives. It's just such a great way to grow up, surrounded by people who love you, expect the best of you, and who have similar religious and moral beliefs as you do. while I can imagine this might be stifiling if you were in this environment all the time, it was wonderful for me each summer!!
I really love that so many of you posted about where you love to be in the summer. Wouldn't it be great if we could do a week at everyone's favorite summer place? Who decided that working in the summer was necessary, anyway? Door County is high on my list of places to visit- I see it similarly to Petoskey and Harbor Springs, so, QBS, if we ever get up there during the summer, I'll give you a holler and we can meet!! The lower shore of MI (Harbor County, Holland, St. Joe, Grand Haven etc) is also a great spot, especially if you have been going there forever and have family friends who also all go there at the same time. My friend's husband has a cottage in Grand Haven, and, while he had a different experience than we did, he loves it just the same, and she has come to love it as well!