After very successful seasons in
2015, 2016 and 2017, FILA is
going on with the
Summer Keepers Program in summer 2018.
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 Summer 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, carpentry will be big in the 2018 season too,
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.
"Independent" means that the nearest grocery
store is 30 miles away, by boat. However, since the
2017 season, "camping" does not necessarily
mean living in a tent any more. This is why we changed
the name of the program from "Camper Keepers"
to "Summer Keepers."
Several rooms in the dwellings have
been made habitable, with some bunk beds even. Other
buildings can be used for storage and work but they
are not suitable for habitation. There is a new outhouse
with a composting toilet, though. Besides such decadent
luxury, 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's not much infrastructure other
than said toilet, two simple bedrooms with bunk beds,
a kitchen without running water, several big picnic
tables and the fire pit in the legendary Nickerson Fire
Circle, place of many joyful get-togethers. But hey,
The outhouse, built by DNR folks.
Bunks in the Summer Quarters (lean-to).
Upstairs bedroom in the 1867 Lighthouse.
Basic kitchen in the 1867 Lighthouse.
For those who prefer living in their
tent, there are quite a few nice camp sites around the
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 Summer
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 additional info, 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.