Backpacking on North Manitou Island

I’m not sure if my parents believed me when I said I wanted to go backpacking on North Manitou Island for a week. With no experience in camping, everyone in my family questioned my decision.

I wanted to go for the community. It would be my last gathering with my leader and the senior girls in the Young Life at my high school before the fall split us in different directions. Although I had the chance to spend time with them, I learned so much more in the quiet beauty of God’s creation than I had expected.

Quiet Hills and Hearts 

Being without my phone, miles away from land, with a Bible in front of me and 15 minutes until the next meal, I only had one option. To dive into God’s word and ask Him to reveal things to me. That week we explored the book of James. James writes a lot about fully submitting ourselves to God even in the trials the world throws at us. The verse which stuck out to me most was in James 1:19, which talked about being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. It definitely hit home for me because when I am in the heat of the moment, I struggle applying all of these things to a conversation. It was amazing to be able to reflect in the beauty of God’s creation – on a sandy hill or at the edge of Lake Michigan – to sit in the quiet of the island and grow.


After rolling up to Young Life Northbound’s basecamp, I had no idea how everyone would bond, especially me with my quietness. Yet, I could not have been more surprised or thankful for the people I spent the week with. We lifted each other up in the best of ways. We included each other, laughed together, and gave meaningful advice to help each other. We shared about our lives and about the ups and downs in our relationship with the Lord. This kind of sisterhood could not be described. But it was experienced through connection, kindness, vulnerability, and love.

Our guides were just as inspiring. Their minds were prepared for the physical challenges which laid ahead, and their hearts were ready to share the Gospel with us. The two seniors in college led us around the island. They formed close relationships with us, were open with us, and helped strengthen our relationship with the Lord. By the end of the week, we were talking like we were lifelong friends.

Stories to Tell

On one of the last days, you could call it our “breaking point”. We camped out in a field, close to the water if you walked down a hill. The sun was baking us, and we sat around a fire we couldn’t light to grab some shade.

We talked about how it was getting harder, and we were all ready to go home. With the weight of the week’s physical demands weighing us down, we leaned on each other and started singing. Through this spur-of-the-moment karaoke, I saw God in the verses we sung from our favorite worship songs. Everything was a little bit better after that.

I am so thankful for North Manitou Island, and the people I was able to camp with. This adventure brought me out of my comfort zone, closer to the Lord, and closer to the girls around me. I would do it again in a heartbeat.



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