2017-07-27 / Life in Leelanau

Camp cook McCann says happy trails after 18 years

By Hannah Lentz
Enterprise intern

BARBARA MCCANN serves snacks to campers at Shady Trails Camp on Friday. BARBARA MCCANN serves snacks to campers at Shady Trails Camp on Friday. Rumor has it that Barbara McCann makes the best pizza in Leelanau County, and she has fans enough to back it up.

Each weekday in July, 100 kids from the ages of 5 to 15 come to Shady Trails Camp to swim, hike, play and have a summer adventure, and McCann feeds them all.

McCann, who has been feeding campers for the last 18 years, will be retiring from Shady Trails Camp after this summer. She’s the longest-standing employee in the camp’s history.

“She’s going to be really hard to replace,” said owner Jack Moorlag. “We’ve been so lucky to have her and we’re going to miss her a lot.”

McCann, a retired Northport teacher, also spearheaded the “camperships” program that provides Northport children with the opportunity to attend Shady Trails free of charge. The grant paved the way for 30 students who otherwise would not have been able to attend due to financial difficulties.

JOSH ROMAN plays basketball with several kids at Shady Trails Camp on Friday. JOSH ROMAN plays basketball with several kids at Shady Trails Camp on Friday. McCann currently works as the director of Northport’s after-school program and has been helping out the district for 41 years.

“I love interacting with the kids,” she said. “I wouldn’t have made it in education for this long if I didn’t.”

Growth at the camp since her arrival in 2000 has been unbelievable, she said. About 60 kids camped when she first started volunteering.

The camp now serves about 100.

“We went from having a menu of three items to where we now have the best food served around,” McCann said.

One of the most important things to her as camp cook is that kids receive quality food in a family-style setting.

“A lot of kids don’t get the chance to eat dinner with their whole families and we really value that experience here,” McCann said. “You really have to love food and kids to do this job.

“It’s really always been about teaching, that’s in my heart. You can find the opportunity to teach in so many different venues, no matter where you go.”

Daelin Irvine, a former Shady Trails camper and a 2016 graduate of Northport, is now summer counselor.

His goal for the summer is to be named the “coolest counselor” at camp.

“My favorite part about this job is playing sports with the little kids because sports were a huge part of my life,” Irvine said. “It’s nice to be able to pass on that enthusiasm.”

Irvine has plans to attend Northwestern Michigan College in the fall to study law enforcement.

Many of the counselors are past Shady Trails campers.

“I tend to give preference to people who apply that were campers here,” Moorlag said. “They know the way things work.”

Though several counselors end up being local for that reason, many of the campers come from out of state. Current campers represent 17 different states, Moorlag said.

Moorlag, who has been involved with the camp for 15 years, is already looking forward to camp next summer, but he’s also excited to have a break.

“We always have a busy summer,” he said, “which we are extremely grateful for.”

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God bless you Barbara McCann!

God bless you Barbara McCann!