Exploring the Enchanted Forest
Skies were dreary and drippy, but last Saturday and Sunday were fine days in Fairyland (also known as Camp Newaygo), as droves of visitors wandered through woods and wetlands in search of fairy houses.
The occasion was the camp's Enchanted Forest event, two afternoons of fun and fundraising to support improvements to the camp's Foster Arts and Crafts Lodge. Generations of campers have explored painting, pottery, dark room photography, nature crafts, jewelry making, tie dye design, wood burning and other activities in that building. But the crafts lodge, built in 1949, is no longer adequate for the camp's growing number of campers and programs.
Camp staff and volunteers hid the fairy houses, gnome homes, pixie palaces and elf abodes in the woods for visitors of all ages to discover (with the help of trail maps, helpful guides and a display showing photos of all the houses to be found).
Ray and I had an edge, having helped hide some of the houses Saturday morning. But even we had to look closely to spot some of them. And once guests began arriving—many sporting fairy wings and other whimsical garb—we had fun watching them search and then react with delight when they spied a tiny house nestled in the leaves or in the hollow of a tree stump.
Some fledgling fairies made wands or gnome hats at the crafts station and enjoyed a tea party of punch and cookies. Other visitors browsed the garden plants and accessories offered for sale by local shops.
Over the two days, a total of 627 visitors toured the Enchanted Forest.
"We were ecstatic about the positive responses we got about the event on social media, and we were so happy with the turnout," said Christa Smalligan, Director of Events and Operations. "It was wonderful to see families and friends outside exploring and enjoying themselves in nature."
Wish you'd been there? Or wish you could visit again? Then come along for a walk through the pictures below or a virtual stroll with WOTV4's Maranda.
If a fanciful creation catches your eye, drop by eBay to bid on one or more of the fairy houses. The auction runs until 11 a.m., Monday, May 9, and proceeds go to the Foster Arts and Crafts Lodge renovation project.
The houses will also be on display at Camp Newaygo, 5333 Centerline Rd., Newaygo, during the Mother's Day Brunch, Sunday, May 8. Between now and then, the public is welcome to view them during business hours, Monday-Friday 8am-5pm.
Ready for that walk in the woods? Let's go!
Nan, What a wonderful journey through the Enchanted Forest. It has been so fun to share camp with so many who love a walk in the woods.
5/4/2016 07:20:57 am
Jane, it was a terrific event and such an fun project for the creative community. We're all looking forward to finding out what's next!
5/4/2016 07:38:06 am
How enchanting, indeed. What a great fundraising idea, too. Can't wait to watch the video at least.
5/4/2016 08:32:28 am
Absolutely charming!!! Will this be open while during my visit? I'd love to see it.
5/4/2016 08:36:15 am
Unfortunately, no, Sally. It was just a two-day event. But we can visit the camp's wetland trail, which is open to the public and you can imagine fairy houses along the way.
5/4/2016 09:20:15 am
Thanks, Marcos. It was magical, wasn't it?
Thank you so much for the photos and story on this event. What fun! I studied each darling fairy house and couldn't decide which I liked better. So many creative folks with big imaginations. I especially enjoyed the photos of the children in their wings and hairpieces searching for the houses and reading the poem and story. You never told me you were a photojournalist along with all your other talents. Thanks for sharing.
5/7/2016 08:26:26 am
Ha - thanks, Janet! I'm not sure my photojournalist friends would include me among their ranks, but have been having a lot of fun with my cameras lately.
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Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.