A Week of Blue Freedom

By Madison Shelton

April 20, 2019

The first week of August, 2018 was my 11th year at White Birch Lodge and it was the best year yet – but of course I say that about every year. There is something liberating to be around my family, my Lodge friends and the clear blue water of Elk Lake, Michigan. “Wibble” (as we call it) is a family resort in every way and my extended family, including parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunt and cousin, spend a week there every summer.

Free from school, sports, and work, our family can focus on each other and our Lodge friends. We eat every meal together, either in the Lodge dining hall or family style picnics on the beach. Every evening after dinner there are planned activities. My favorites include sports night and square dance night, each followed by a campfire with friends I see only once a year.

The Lodge also frees me to pursue my only non competitive sport. I can walk out our front door and 50 foot steps later be standing in my favorite part of White Birch Lodge: the water. I learned to water ski at the Lodge when I was 6 years old, taught by the college students who staff the entire Lodge including the waterfront. I spend as much time as possible during the week on 2 water skis, or in recent years on only 1 ski. Learning to slalom ski was a challenge I was determined to conquer. In spite of only getting to ski for a week once a year I did it with constant practice. My younger brothers and sisters always run up to the dining hall. “I get to ring the breakfast bell this morning!” they scream. However, I am usually the first one there and the first one to leave so I can be first in line for morning skiing. My single board is not always a ski. Since I was 9 years old I have also been wakeboarding from a separate dock behind a special high powered boat.

My 4 younger brothers and sisters explore their freedom as well. 12 year old Mackenzie is an accomplished slalom skier. My youngest sister Makayla, who is only 8, is already skiing and wakeboarding. Brothers Mason and Maxton are only 5 and 4 so they go to a half day kids camp, which also frees my mom and dad.

The week at the Lodge is also my opportunity to be with the special Lodge friends I have made over the years. Although with social media I stay in touch with my Lodge friends all year, this is the time when we are free to renew our bonds in person. Quiet moments around the campfire are special times with them.

The week always ends with a ski show put on by the staff. It also marks the end of the annual freedom I cherish with my family, my friends and my time in the water. But as we return to the demands of school, sports, and work, I always hear one of my sisters say, “Only 358 days ’til Wibble.”