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Crystalaire Adventures is a wilderness tripping program based out of Frankfort, MI near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It specializes in inclusive leadership, participant-driven trips, and an appreciation for the North Woods. It is often referred to simply as "Crystalaire." Crystalaire Adventures contracts out tripping services like outdoor leadership and trip planning while also running its own suite of regularly scheduled trips aimed at youth.
Crystalaire Adventures stems from its original name "Crystalaire Camp." Originally called Osaha-of-the-Dunes, the camp was founded in 1921 as a camp for girls by Beth Mattson. A nearby stable and field allowed for the operation of a horse barn, and horse-packing and camping was a primary activity alongside canoeing and other outdoor skills. The Crystalaire name was introduced by the Putt family in the 1940s when the camp became "Crystalaire Camp For Girls." In 1958 an educator and former social worker Gus Leinbach purchased the camp. Gus radically changed the camp philosophy. Alongside The Leinbach Education Project, more commonly known as "Innisfree" or "The Project," Gus's camps were modeled after Summerhill School and similar alternative education programs. Freedom of choice, out-of-door living skills, creativity, and imagination were leading values. Gus also expanded on an already robust tripping program. In addition to horses, an extensive sailing programming, backpacking, canoeing, survival skills, and other activities were added into the programming. A house on South Manitou Island was used as a base camp for sailing trips, and participants would come over to the island on a ferry to take advantage of the site (the house was sold to the National Park Service when Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was established). Trips ranged across the Upper Peninsula and Ontario, Canada and included destinations like the Algoma Canyon and train, Isle Royale National Park, and elsewhere. Trips to Europe and the Canadian Rockies were also included.
Dave Reid became director in 1976 and helped oversee the transition to a co-educational camp. The freedom-of-choice model was continued and expanded during this time, and trips were continued. The "Crystalaire Adventures" name was first formally used in 2005 to distinguish the long-running trips program from the residential camp. Crystalaire Adventures operated out of its own building on the Crystalaire Camp property, focusing on canoeing, backpacking, and day hikes. In 2008 Crystalaire Camp closed, but Crystalaire Adventures continue. For a number of years it operated out of a garage near Lower Herring Lake. Crystalaire Adventures now operates out of a lodge built in 1917 in partnership with Camp Lookout, a residential summer camp that emerged from Crystalaire Camp around 1994 and owns the property.
Crystalaire Adventures runs backpacking, canoeing, caving, mountain biking, sea kayaking, and road biking trips. They also offer trips focusing on outdoor living skills, survival skills, camping, and service-leadership. A signature aspect of their program are "Choose Your Own Adventure" trips, which allow anyone to work with Crystalaire staff to design their own expedition. Crystalaire Adventures market both to individuals via pre-scheduled summer programming and to groups or non-profits year round. There is also a Crystalaire scholarship fund, which strives to make trips more accessible to those in need.
Crystalaire's mission is to make the world a better place by helping people learn to live and work together. The organization uses "playful, inclusive outdoor adventures in wild places to foster meaningful experiences for everyone involved".
- Youngblood, Betsy. "The Crystal Lake Handbook" (PDF). Crystal Lake & Watershed Association. Crystal Lake Association.
- Twist, Barbara. "Goodnight And Not Goodbye".
- "About Crystalaire Adventures".
- "Milwaukee native offers educational summer expeditions for youth". Milwaukee Rennaissance. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
- "Crystalaire Adventures - Home".