Thursday, September 2, 2010

E-Tour Goes a Little Bavarian

From Frankenmuth Jellystone
The e-Tour visited the Jellystone Park in Frankenmuth, Michigan for “Family Reunion Weekend” this past Saturday and Sunday. Once again, it was a full and busy Jellystone that greeted us on Friday night as we arrived at our campsite in the farmlands of Eastern Michigan near Saginaw Bay. Frankenmuth, known as Little Bavaria, is an interesting community with a strong German heritage that was settled first as a Lutheran mission in the early 19th Century. The celebration of its Bavarian roots is the signature feature of the community today. Local school children still study German from kindergarten to high school, and the architectural styling, music, food, and beer all recall the traditions of German alpine culture.

The campground was carefully groomed, with a network of paved roads that the kids (and adults) used to good advantage for their virtually nonstop cruising on bicycles and pedal-cars. We could hear squeals of laughter as spontaneous games of wheeled chase erupted on the child-friendly autobahn, and the “pursued” pedaled furiously to outpace their equally determined “pursuers.” It reminded us of similar summer pastimes we enjoyed while growing up in New Orleans, a time when neighborhood streets offered a relatively safe haven as a playground on balmy summer evenings. Sitting implacably on porches and shooting the breeze under ceiling fans that laboriously paddled the steamy airs, adults watched the ongoing goings-on with the laissez-faire attitude of distracted shepherds who tend their flock with an assurance that all will turn out well enough. We’ve come to appreciate the appeal of Jellystone as a similarly safe and comfortable haven for young and old who seek to enjoy a sense of community with like-minded neighbors. It’s a place where all can take pause from the frenetic pace of urbanized and internetized lifestyles, and enjoy the outdoor leisure activities that kids and adults have timelessly appreciated when afforded the opportunity.

On Saturday morning, we had a sizeable and eager crew of young Jellystoners for our Leave No Trace craft activity. First, we introduced the seven principles of Leave No Trace with the “Camp Oh-No!” tableau. Even the youngest could recognize the many (all-too-familiar) problems with Camp Oh-No! Then, while some of the kids decorated personalized “nature name tags” that featured their favorite animal, plant or place, others tested their casting skill with the Bag’N Bigfoot game and earned Clif bar prizes. Later, we had the opportunity to talk briefly about the courtesies, considerations, and common sense of outdoor ethics and show the short NPS “Leave No Trace” DVD before the evening’s feature film.

From Frankenmuth Jellystone
With timely recruiting assistance from Jena, one of the Jellystone staff, we had another large crowd for Sunday morning’s LNT session. Initially, the younger campers were engaged in crafting “Bigfoot ticklers,” while the older participants chose to make LNT bead bracelets. However, by the time we closed up shop, most all of the participants had done both craft activities, including the parents and grandparents who attended.

From Frankenmuth Jellystone
During our visit, we had the opportunity to talk with Cindy Keinath, an owner and general manager of Jellystone Frankenmuth, and also with her dad, Erv, about the complementary objectives of Jellystone and Leave No Trace. In an approach that is similar to Jellystone Maryland’s mentoring relationship with Girls Inc, Cindy is excited about the prospect of Jellystone Frankenmuth becoming host to local scout troops and school teachers for Leave No Trace training and education programs.

We’ve become accustomed to hospitable and friendly hosts at Jellystone Park, and the Frankenmuth group exceeded even those high expectations. Danke shoen for making us feel a welcome part of the community.

Hope to see you cruising pedal-style down and around the roads,

Peggy and Barrett
e-Tour 2010

e-word: edelweiss

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