Leelanau Outdoor Center Activities
Each group is given a “mission,” a problem that can only be solved through solid individual contributions and cooperative group effort. Students learn valuable lessons in effective teamwork, leadership, and communication.
Participants learn rock-climbing basics on our climbing tower and bouldering cave. Climbers face physical and mental challenges while supportive teammates provide encouragement from the ground. All participants are instructed in proper safety equipment and procedures and are belayed by certified instructors.
High Ropes Course (6th grade and up)
Students tap into new levels of trust and self-confidence as they traverse a series of steel cables, rope walkways, and wooden obstacles over 20 feet in the air. Certified instructors provide thorough safety training and lots of support.
Pyramid Point is a local treasure. Participants hike this often overlooked trail, which ends with a beautiful vista overlooking Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands.
Pirate Compass begins with a tutorial about how to use a compass. Students must then complete the compass course to find the hidden booty.
Beginning instruction in paddling a canoe is followed by a gentle trip down the Crystal River. Watch for salmon, kingfishers, and Great Blue Heron.
We take nets, buckets, and magnifying lenses to a nearby beaver pond and learn first hand about frogs, turtles, dragonfly nymphs, and minnows. Watch out for the Eastern Toe Biter!
Ride the Big Blue Bus to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Headquarters for an introduction to dune formation, geology, and wildlife. Then head over to Sleeping Bear Point, the best classroom of all, for lessons on dune succession and a visit to the ghost forest.
Students enjoy a hands-on experience of skulls and furs from animals living in the local area. Additionally, students learn about predation, starvation, and biotic potential as these words relate to the muskrat environment.
Students transform into predator and prey and interact with each other in different environmental scenarios. A staff member leads a discussion which helps students make connections about animal populations and relationships in the wild.
Students test their skills of observation along our “unnature” trail as they try to identify objects not commonly found in nature. Other activities are designed to increase awareness through touch, sight, and sound.
LOC’s newest class combines SMART Goal setting with teaching about labeling and stereotyping. Guided activities and discussion leave students with a new understanding of how to interact with people who are different than others and gain a general knowledge of how to be accepting of all. “You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you can be nice to each other” (Fuzz Foster).
Students learn about goal settling and are encouraged to make connections between stepping off of the zip line platform as taking their first step towards achieving goals.
We go sledding during every free moment and always have a roaring fire and hot chocolate waiting in the Great House. In addition to team building initiative games, beach hikes, and the Pyramid Point Hikes, we offer the following wintertime activities:
This activity begins indoors with a lesson on identifying animal tracks. Then we strap on snowshoes and become winter detectives, looking for signs of animal activity around LOC property. Along the way, we learn more about the nivean environment and discuss wintertime habitat and adaptations of local wildlife.
Campers learn basic cross-country skills from our instructors as they ski through meadows and pine groves.
Depending on snow conditions, we may build block shelters or pile the snow and carve out quinsies. This is a great team building exercise as well. Time permitting, we take a guided tour of each shelter on the final morning of your visit.
Students re-live Jack London’s nail-biting tale of survival. Staff provide instruction in winter fire building and survival. Each group has a single match. Will they succeed?
Bread and Butter
While learning about human history, students travel back in time to become millers and bakers. By grinding their own wheat berries, throwing ingredients into the flour, and kneading the dough, students make delicious homemade bread. While the bread is baking, students make butter the old fashioned way and enjoy spreading it on warm bread right out of the oven!
Evening Programs (All Seasons)
LOC would not be the same without songs, stories, and games around a roaring fire. We do bonfires year round in our pine forest.
This is a staff favorite! Boys and girls go on separate, guided journeys into the woods and fields at night. Each hike is unique and may include storytelling, stargazing, or an unusual encounter with nocturnal wildlife.
Leelanau County local, Rebecca Lessard of “Wings of Wonder”, presents a wonderful slide show about her work as an animal rehabilitator. The slide presentation is followed by a student-initiated question and answer session along with a display of a few of Rebecca’s “patients” (live birds of prey who cannot be released into the wild).
Local talent Pat Niemisto and Norm Wheeler provide an interactive experience filled with songs, stories, and poetry.
Enjoy local story teller Jenifer Strauss of “Storybetold” as she leads students in storytelling and improvisational games.