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Lake Michigan Lighthouse to host trades camp next summer

Photo provided by the White Shoal Preservation society

White Shoal Lighthouse, one of the tallest lighthouses on the Great Lakes, will offer a unique summer camp experience next summer.

High school students can spend a week on the waters of Lake Michigan, gaining hands-on experience in the trades.

The camp will be limited to six students at a time due to limited space in the lighthouse. Lighthouse co-owner Brent Tompkins said students will start their day early in the morning by doing maintenance on the light.

"It'll be pretty hard core," he said.

Then, they will rotate through classes teaching introductory carpentry, electrical and plumbing. Tompkins said he already has tradesmen and shop teachers volunteering to teach courses.

"The whole thing is an adventure from the time you get on the boat to the time to get back in," he said.

Campers will also get to experience the beauty of Lake Michigan, including stargazing, sunrises and sunsets.

"The skies are so dark up there in the streets, we have no light pollution for miles. So we get the most awesome stargazing in the unions," Tompkins said.

As he has watched his own kids grow up, Tompkins said he has noticed less of an emphasis on the trades and shop classes for younger generations. He said there is a stigma around the craft.

The pilot camp next summer will set the course for future camps at White Shoal, which Tompkins hopes will encourage students to consider the trades as a career path.

“Not every kid is cut out for college," Tompkins said. "There's some great opportunities to be had in the trades."

Jill Harrington is a senior at CMU majoring in journalism and minoring in theatre and interpretation. Jill grew up in Novi, Michigan and started reporting for WCMU in summer 2022.