Story and photos by Joelle & Bill Snyder
We have a lake home on Sand Lake in southern Sawyer County, Wis., that we enjoy visiting all times of the year. Our primary home is in Waukee, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines. In the summer, we go to our cabin to escape the heat, and we travel there in mid-winter to enjoy the quiet solitude. Although we’re retired, we still feel the daily pressures of life melting away every time we make the 400-mile trip to “The Lake.”
Joelle’s parents purchased a cabin on the property in 1967 after her father was disabled in a farm accident. He wanted a place to escape the summer heat and to recover from his injuries. We purchased the property from them in the early 1980s. In 2003, we replaced the original 1930s vintage seasonal cottage with a year-round lake home. It’s a Wausau modular home with hydronic heat in the floor.
Scouting + cabin living
Our family is a four-generation Scouting family. In fact, our son Brian Snyder is Cub Master of Cub Scout Pack #120 in Van Meter, Iowa (near Des Moines). This past July, Brian put a new spin on Scouting. He convinced five Cub Scouts (our grandson Bryton plus Caleb, Leo, Garrett, and Tyler), two of the Scouts’ siblings (Ethan and Hunter) and five other parents that the combination of camping, Scouting and cabin living would be the best life experience these 11-year-old boys would ever have. It was a very hot Thursday when Cub Master Brian caravanned his group of two pick-up trucks, two PWCs, a camper and two other vehicles to the Northwoods. Everyone was anxious to “go north” because the temperature in Iowa would be 100°F that day. Immediately after arriving at our cabin, the Scouts, siblings and parents jumped into beautiful Sand Lake. The reactions were “wow,” “beautiful,” “fun,” love it” and “cold.” Chef Herb’s job was to feed the crew. His evening menu of corn on the cob and pork loins were cooked on the fire pit. Of course, the dessert of campfire s’mores was quickly devoured.
The group spent the next three days at their new home at the Tomahawk Scout Reservation nearby Birchwood, Wis. The Scouts sharpened their skills of knot tying, shooting BB guns, archery, swimming, building campfires, climbing walls, obstacle course maneuverability and patriotism. The two most frequently asked questions were “what is a bear box?” and “are there really bears here?” The fabulous Tomahawk Scout Reservation counselors calmed the boys’ fears and answered their on-going questions about bears and bear boxes.
After camp ended, it was time to truly experience life at our cabin on Sand Lake. First, out came the toys. The anxious 11-year-olds pushed the canoe, the paddle boat, the aluminum boat (with a 6HP motor), two PWCs and a floating mat into Sand Lake. Cub Master Brian fired up our 18-foot Bayliner boat, attached the towables and a day of fun was enjoyed by everyone. And, yes, fishing on Sand Lake was also an adventure for these inquisitive scouts. They fished for anything that would take their bait of worms and leeches. Ethan‘s big moment was catching a 42-inch, 18-pound muskie. That was another new word for the scouts’ cabin living vocabulary: “Muskie!”
Remember, these boys are from Central Iowa. A week in the Northwoods of Wisconsin changed the lives of five young Cub Scouts. They learned to fish, have fun, respect the flag and, of course, to feel free at The Lake.
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