After successful seasons in 2015
and 2016, FILA is going
on with the Camper Keepers
Program in summer 2017.
In short, this program means that
volunteers spend several weeks camping at the
on South Fox Island.
Sunrise seen from the East Beach near
the Boat House.
Our Camper Keepers program is simple
but somewhat demanding. Simple in that it just involves
living at a light station on a large but isolated island,
being docents when occasional visitors arrive, performing
basic grounds upkeep and participating in ongoing restoration
projects at the limits of your ability. In the latter
regard, finishing carpentry will be big in the 2017
season, and there is always painting, ground maintenance,
beach grooming etc. to do.
The demanding part involves the planning
and execution of a 2+ week independent camping trip.
We provide only safe transport (weather permitting)
to and from the island. The many buildings can provide
emergency shelter but they are not suitable for habitation.
On the plus side, there is a flushable toilet, and the
island is surrounded by beautiful Lake Michigan that
doesn't mind if you bathe in it!
The West Beach, the back yard of the
Light Station, so to say. Need we say more?
Definitely not for people who need
their daily chat with their neighbors or the quick dash
into town, but it may appeal to folks who love the outdoors
(plenty available out there, and it's free!) and can
live without a 30 cubic foot fridge for weeks.
There are quite a few very nice camp sites around
the buildings, but there's not much infrastructure other
than said toilet, several big picnic tables and the
fire pit in the legendary Nickerson Fire Circle, focal
point of most camping activities and place of many joyful
Buildings can be used for shelter,
cooking (appliances and plumbing do not work, though),
storage, etc., but not for lodging. The reason is flaking
lead paint all over the place except the newly built
lean-to on the north side of the 1867 Lighthouse. That
annex is going to be turned into kind of an accommodation,
still very rustic but with a solid roof.
Tents around the Nickerson Fire Circle,
with one of the three picnic tables.
The Fire Circle, campers' meeting point.
The chairs do not belong to the provided
Another site next to the Workshop. The building
used as a foul-weather kitchen
and office too.
Yet another camp site with a picnic table
behind the Fog Signal Building. And there
are even more sites.
As already mentioned, we expect Camper
Keepers to welcome visitors to the Light Station and
provide them with information if required. That also
involves some learning, of course, and some basic social
skills too. Couples or small groups of friends are ideal
If you think you could do that
kind of thing, please contact our
Manager, Phil von Voigtlander in Northport, for more
or call him at 231-386-7922
For more details, please have a
look at this
.....that we cannot guarantee a stay
at the Light Station that suits your time window, because
we have to guarantee your safety, which we take very
Sometimes we have to reschedule island
trips for weeks because of the lake conditions. Even
in the nicest summer weather, we often have to wait
a week or even longer until the lake allows a safe trip.
There is no harbor or dock on the island, and the water
around the Light Station is full of rocks. Our boats
have to be anchored way off the beach, and crews and
materials are beached and taken back aboard using inflatable
In other words, if we can't stick
to your schedule, please don't blame us. We really do
our best, but we cannot annul the forces of nature.
Thanks for your understanding.