Thursday, February 02, 2012

Activity Spotlight: The Hike to Sleepy Hollow!

This blogpost is part of a series of posts on Camp Pendalouan Traditions! This post is about a favorite activity that has been a part of Pendalouan History since the beginning of Pendy History... The Hike to Sleepy Hollow! Future posts will be about ceremonies, rituals, the camp motto, and more! If you have an idea for a post or would like to be a guest writer, contact

Sleepy Hollow. To Campers and Alumni of Pendalouan these two words carry deep significance and conjure up memories and images of history and legend, mystical lore and natural beauty.

The hike to Sleepy Hollow is an activity that almost all visitors to camp participate in. Summer Resident and Day Campers, as well as Outdoor Education Students, often have several opportunities during their stay to make this beautiful and magical hike.

Most of the tales on the hike were passed down through the ancient art of storytelling by Pendalouan Legend, Eddie Boersema (for more information on Eddie, click here or here). Due to the nature of storytelling, the tales have changed slightly over the years, but not significantly. It is always great when an Alum comes back and shares his or her own rendition of the Sleepy Hollow Stories.

In his later years, Eddie wrote down his tales in order
to preserve them. Our counselors & staff learn the stories
by going on the hike themselves, with the tales
being told by a veteran staff member. The notes,
however, are important for Pendalouan History.

There is no substitute to actually going on the hike, but this post will attempt to share some of the highlights that campers and staff experience on their journey in Sleepy Hollow.

It may take a bit of a walk to actually get to the Hollow from the main area of camp, but once you are there, the stories and sights are numerous and are well worth the walk. First, there is a stop right at the top of the hill where the old fire tower used to be. The four corner posts and the US Geological Survey marker are still there!

A picture in Eddie Boersema's Scrapbook of Big Blue Lake
taken from the Fire Tower in the late 1930s

Then after descending a steep hill, you enter the Hollow. As you are surrounded by the Sacred Stream, the ancient giant trees, and soft ground, it feels as if you have entered another world.

A Picture of Sleepy Hollow taken in Fall 2011

After sharing some tales in that main valley, groups usually make their way to where the Purple Seven Gang’s Hideout used to be. After crossing Cleveland Creek, you stumble upon the Castle, where tales of 1920s gangsters and ghosts echo throughout the ruins.

Cleveland Creek, Fall 2011

Even further are The Blue Lake Bomber's Shack and Owasippe's Grave, where only the adventurous trek to. Throughout the whole hike, there are numerous opportunities to explore nature's beauty and learn about several species of animal and flora including Giant Beech Trees, Beavers, Marmots, etc.

The hike to Sleepy Hollow is a tradition at Camp Pendalouan that we cherish deeply. As long as the Hollow is there, Pendalouan campers will continue to explore the majesty of this legendary and beautiful natural wonder.

Do you have a favorite Sleepy Hollow story to share? Leave a comment below!

This post is part of a series on camp traditions. Be on the lookout for more posts in the coming months on other camp traditions! In case you missed it, check out the previous post on Camp Songs. If you have any questions about our Summer Camp Programs or would like to register, see our website or call our office at (231) 894-4538.


Nick Meier said...

For many years, the hike to Sleepy Hollow would take you past the cottage of Bertha Hogstrom. A hearty Swedish immigrant, Bertha lived in the cottage with only electric lights, a woodstove for heat, and a hand pump in the kitchen. She was nearly deaf and had a switch on her door that would cause the lights in the cottage to blink so that she knew she had visitors. She chopped her own wood, made her own Swedish Hardtack, and lived there until her death in 1976.

Camp Pendalouan said...

Nick, what great history to add to the hike! We still mention Bertha, but these new details are wonderful!