Welcome to Camp Lookout and Qajaq Training Camp! You’ve found the parking lot (thanks, Google) and now what? Most folks start arriving after 2 pm on Thursday. A QajaqTC parking attendant will be around to help you find a place to park. Parking is VERY tight, especially if you arrive later. What many of us do is first pull up to the path leading to the beach and unload our kayaks. There are usually people around to help with this, so no stress if you are on your own. Once you’ve unloaded, the parking attendant will direct you to a parking spot. Let them know if you need to be able to get out early on Sunday, and they will do their best to find you a spot where you won’t be blocked in — getting to camp earlier rather than later will help with this.
You’ll be paddling yourself to camp, BUT you don’t have to stow all your gear in your kayak! The Camp provides a pontoon boat to shuttle our stuff! The pontoon makes several trips between the parking lot and camp before dinner (starting around 3 pm), and another one after dinner for late arrivals. So now you’ll want to separate your baggage into: A) stuff you want immediately when you get to camp, and B) stuff you can do without while it comes over on the pontoon boat. For example, if you plan to play in the water for a while once you get to camp, you can probably have your land clothes come over on the pontoon. You can store your gear in most any container — plastic bins, IKEA bags, duffles, whatever (maybe not wheeled luggage, because sand) — BUT be sure to put your name on your stuff! No one is going to steal anything, but IKEA bags and black duffles all look alike. This is more of an issue at the end of the weekend, when someone may have your duffle half-way home before you notice that it’s missing!
Once you’ve sorted your gear, put anything that goes on the pontoon boat on the deck by the tree (you’ll see it) or wherever the parking attendant says. It’s ok to leave it there and paddle over. It’s safe — really! In the case of rain, we’ll have a tarp you can stuff your bags under, but be aware that this is not 100% dry — especially if it’s windy. If you have something that must not get wet, make sure you package it accordingly.
You’ve got your luggage on the deck and you’re ready to paddle over, but where to? Head straight out from the beach. Camp Lookout is about a half mile from the beach on your right. Between the beach and Camp there is a shallow area that you may want to avoid by hanging left a little — you’ll see it. You’ll pass one or two small docks on your way to camp, but once you get there you’ll know it. Also, chances are you will be following or paddling with other kayakers. There are several buildings, two docks, and probably a number of people on land and in kayaks. Feel free to hang out on the water for a bit, but at some point you’ll need to land and check in. In order to protect the vegetation at the water’s edge, we ask that you land and then pull your kayak up out of the water and put it either on the dock or on either side of the trail. There will be people around to help. This keeps the water’s edge from becoming a big kayak parking lot.
Check in happens in the dining hall. That’s the big building you can see from the water, above the terraced seating (“the steps”). Head inside and collect your name badge and a map of camp. Someone will be there to give you your cabin assignment and answer any questions you have (like “where’s the cooler?”).
At some point the pontoon will bring over a load of gear from the parking area. Please help unload the boat if you are around. If you are not around, you will find your gear stacked on the steps in front of the dining hall.
You will have been assigned either a couples cabin or a single-sex cabin. The cabins typically have about 6-8 bunks but we only put 4-5 people in a cabin. This gives everyone some room to spread out gear. There will be a list of occupants affixed by the cabin door. Use this info to figure out how much space you can claim. You can often have a lower bunk for sleeping and an upper to explode all your gear. (Pro-tip: If you have enough space to claim an entire bunk bed, consider stacking the mattresses to create a more comfortable sleeping platform.) Each cabin has a waste basket and broom. Please sweep out your cabin before you leave on Sunday. Also, NO FOOD IS ALLOWED IN THE CABINS! You WILL get critters of various sizes in the cabin if you don’t follow this rule. All food should be kept in the dining hall. Earplugs are highly recommended in both the cabins and tent village. Check with us in the dining hall if you need some.
If you opted to bring a tent, you’ll be hiking your gear up over the ridge and down into the “tent village” — a big open area between two dunes on the path to the Lake Michigan beach. It’s a bit of a slog, so remember that when deciding how much to bring! Set up your tent on either side of the “path” that leads from camp to the beach. Earplugs are highly recommended in both the cabins and the tent village. Check with us in the dining hall if you need some.
Some cabin folks will string rope from the rafters for drying clothes inside if it’s raining. You can also dry gear on deck railings or a clothesline that you string between trees. Please take any clotheslines with you when you leave!