Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Little Elkhart- What a Great Little Lake!

We've all heard by now about Anokijig's Little Elkhart Lake being rated one of Wisconsin's best lakes- http://anokijig.blogspot.com/2009/10/anokijigs-little-elkhart-lake-named-one.html

What we don't often talk about is how Little Elkhart Lake is one of the world's best lakes for camping. Unlike the previous rating, this one isn't done by an impartial judge, but we have visited other camps and we know a good body of water when we see one.

Little Elkhart is about 60 acres in size and while that may not seem very big, it's nearly the size of an ocean in the minds of some of our campers. Little Elkhart also has a great shape to it, with lots of little nooks and crannies for fishing and several distinct bays. It's also one of those rare inland lakes that has an island (Optimist Island) and we own it! This unique shape also limits personal watercraft traffic and promotes camper safety, because there's only a small area of the lake that is further than 150 feet from shoreline. It's big enough for campers to go out in a boat and feel like they've gone on an adventure, but not so big, that we can't keep a good eye on them at all times.

While Little Elkhart has areas where the water can get as deep as 30 feet or so, most of the lake water is only about four to eight feet deep. That means it warms up quickly in the summer time, while other larger lakes take longer to get comfortable for swimming. Our beach is also the best spot for enjoying the lake, because the sun sets on the far side of the lake, keeping our campers comfortably warm well into the late afternoon hours.

The surrounding lakes around Little Elkhart also make our lake ideal for a summer camp. Elkhart Lake and Crystal Lake are both just a few minutes away and both lakes are much larger. That's great news for us, because that means most of the pleasure boaters will choose those lakes before they come to ours and that keeps our lake traffic to a minimum. Some camps are on lakes so big, they have to restrict the movement of their campers on the water, due to safety concerns. That's not an issue for us on Little Elkhart.

Even if a pleasure boater decides to come to Little Elkhart, when we let 50 campers loose in canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats, sailboards and paddleboats, we pretty much decide what activites take place on the lake. Locals know this and as a result, when boats do come to Little Elkhart, they are usually just fishermen, looking for a quiet place to drop a line and catch a few largemouth bass.

Just having a lake is an important feature for a summer camp and we're fortunate to have such a great one, especially given the fact that some camps can only offer a swimming pool. One of the most important life skills a child can acquire on a visit to Anokijig is a level of comfort and confidence in water. It still surprises us to meet kids every summer who have never swam in non-chlorinated water! To those children, a freshwater lake can be a very intimidating environment.

Even though our lake is exceptionally-clean and crystal-clear, some children have a fear of the unknown and they are concerned about what lurks beneath the surface. That fear can turn a competent pool swimmer into a panic-stricken young child, but it often disappears when they see dozens of other children having the time of their lives in Little Elkhart.

Every camper that comes to Anokijig is given a swim test and those that cannot swim are given free lessons. By the end of the week, most of these campers can swim and the few who cannot are at least much more comfortable in the water, which is also important. We can't emphasize enough the importance of children getting comfortable in the water, because this could someday save their lives! We teach a lot of great life lessons and skills at Anokijig, but one that can actually save a life is hard to trump!

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