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By Lucie Harmon, 1910

The question of just how to spend the summer vacation is uppermost in the minds of many teachers and students these days. Earlier in the year the idea of a summer of study seems most desirable, even pleasant, but with the coming of warm weather enthusiasm gradually oozes out. The most ardent student of biology rebels at the thought of spending long summer days in indoor study or bending over a microscope in stuffy laboratories.   On the other hand two or three months entirely devoted to recreation does not make a strong appeal to the average wide-awake teacher or college student. For many the University Biological Station fills a long-felt want.

While work at the camp is not all recreation by any means it is carried on under such ideal conditions that most of those who studied there last summer declared they had accomplished more than they could in course work elsewhere, and at the same time had enjoyed themselves more than if the whole time had been given to aimless pleasure.

There is another point in favor of camp work. So many students are disappointed in university biology because they do not feel a closer touch with nature as a result. Of necessity lectures upon theories and structure and laboratory study of type forms give one very little actual fellowship with the common plants and animals which we see about us, and which we fondly hope to become better acquainted with by the study of biology. Even so-called "field courses" often prove unsatisfactory.  One goes out once or twice a week,  but in the rush of other studies, and the numerous demands and distractions of university life there is little time to assimilate the knowledge gained. The great advantage of the biological camp is that the student lives for eight weeks with the forms he is studying and with people who have all their lives been working upon these very subjects. The small number enrolled in the school—about twenty is all that can at present be accommodated—makes close intercourse between teacher and student possible.

It is not the aim to duplicate University courses, but to make the study essentially field work, seconded by such laboratory investigations, as shall be necessary to assimilate the knowledge gained in the field. And the laboratories are constructed so as to let in as much light and air as possible. Thus, sleeping in tents, eating out of doors, and studying for the most part in the open air, the student leads such a natural healthful existence that he can accomplish a great deal without the fatigue of indoor study.

The camp itself is located upon Douglas Lake, but the sixteen hundred and sixty-six acres of land owned by the University stretch to Burt Lake,  one of the chain in the famous "In-land Route" from Cheboygan to Petoskey. While easily accessible the location is at the same time so isolated that it has the advantage of being in the heart of the wilderness. Its topography is of such a diversified nature that flora and fauna of lake, swamp,  ravine, and hillside afford a great variety of material for study. The small amount of rain fall in the Douglass Lake region during the months of July and August is another great advantage; in fact the summer climate is said to resemble that of southern California.

The courses include such a wide range that beginners in biology may be accommodated as well as those whose experience fits them for research work. And to the advanced student the region offers many interesting problems.

Some persons, especially women,  who have no idea of camp life, hesitate before such apparent hardships as they fear they will be called upon to endure, but experience has proved that the least rugged become accustomed to the long tramps and find themselves all the stronger for the lack of luxuries and artificial ways of living. As one girl said, "You are so sleepy at night you forget whether you are on a hair mattress or a straw tick."

Breakfast, and a good hearty one it is, comes at six-thirty. At seven-thirty everyone is ready for the day's work. Perhaps it is a tramp along narrow forest paths to visit some particular plant society or the haunt of a certain animal. On the way the class pauses to note whatever of interest may claim its attention. A new bird calls from the thicket. Down it goes into notebooks for further reference;  and the keeping of field notes is one of the most important arts which the would-be naturalist must learn. A new fungus has made its sudden appearance. Its habitat must be carefully noted and some of it brought back to Mr. who is making a special study of the fungi of the locality. With not too many stops, for the place of interest may be several miles from camp, the party at length arrives at its destination. If an animal is the matter in hand long hours of patient waiting may be needed before he will perform satisfactorily, or again he may not appear at all. Plants are more accommodating and when once found may be expected to be at home to future visitors. If there is time to return before eleven-thirty dinner is eaten in camp, if not there is a picnic luncheon in the woods.

Another day will be spent in camp,  for laboratory work, lectures, and quizzes are systematically conducted in this woodland university, since fieldwork and nothing more would bring few definite results. On such days work continues until four-thirty when everyone goes into the lake.   There is a fine beach, which makes bathing a joy. Last summer nearly every student learned to swim, and some became very proficient, counting this as not the least of the summer's gains.

Supper is served at five-thirty, and a general recreation period lasts until seven-thirty when walking, boating,  or other amusements are enjoyed. The nights are always cool, and by seven-thirty everyone is ready to come indoors. Last year the fact that there was only one gathering place for the serious and frivolous made studying in the general laboratory not quite as easy as the studious minded would desire. This year two laboratories are provided. Burning of the midnight oil is not allowed at Camp Bogardus, and there is no need for it after a day's program such as I have outlined.   So at nine-thirty lights are out and everything is quiet, except for the wood noises, which at first seem so weird to city ears used to the roll of electric cars and the honking of automobiles.

The above program is carried out for five days in each week. Saturday is somewhat varied according to the work of the particular student. A unique feature is to be included in the camp's attractions for the coming summer in the weekend excursions which Mr. Stewart will conduct.   Parties of four will go out Friday noon, returning Saturday night. Mr. Stewart's thorough acquaintance with wood lore and camp life will enable him to instruct the novice in all those essentials so necessary to the safety and comfort of the camper. How to blaze a trail, how to manage and care for boats, how to pick out a camping ground, how to pitch a tent, what wood to select for a particular kind of fire, and having selected it how to build the fire, forest trees and their uses to the camper, as, for rope, tent pegs, pot hooks, and so on, camp methods of roasting, stewing, pie baking, bread making, what material to use for a bed, in fact everything from how to tell a good camp yarn to finding one's way by the stars will be included in this very practical course.

Last year Sunday was set aside as a day for rest and quiet, but with no special observance of it in other ways except by those who cared to travel some thirteen miles to the nearest church. This season it has been thought advisable to inaugurate a simple service of song, scripture selections, and perhaps the reading of a sermon by some one of the world's famous preachers.

One of the greatest needs for the camp was felt to be a power boat of some kind so that there might be a speedy and safe means of transportation across the lake. But the university authorities could not be expected to provide such a luxury. Through the generosity of its manufacturers and other friends of the camp a six-teen-foot launch has been purchased which will carry ten persons.

By these and other changes it is hoped that the camp will prove even more successful than it was a year ago when its fourteen students voted that summer the healthiest and happiest of their lives.

The Michigan Alumnus

May 1910, Pages 416-418