These are small groups (generally 8 to 10 campers per group) that cover a diverse variety of topics.
Each camper will choose a group to be in for the entire week.

To read about the background and motivation for our group leaders, see our curriculum vitae page.




Songwriting  -  Bruce Bielawa

Write a song and sing it at Friday's open mic! All levels of musical skill and experience welcome, including the level of none whatsoever.

Join an intimate group of music lovers to listen, share the love of music, sample a few tricks of the songwriting trade... and hopefully spend a lot of luxurious morning time courting the muse. Collaborations and other special projects welcome!

Supplies:  Bring whatever materials you think you need: maybe paper and pencil, or a tablet, and any instrument you want to play. (One optional, fun activity: bring a recording or sound file of a song you particularly love, or that holds special significance for you, or which inspires you to want to write a song yourself: we can all listen and think about what musical devices contribute to its effectiveness. Are these musical devices we might deploy ourselves as songwriters?)



Wanna horse around?  -  Ed Saunders

Humans and horses have shared a rich bond across the ages. This morning group offers a special opportunity to discover or deepen this relationship, and to share your insights with other campers. Experienced Nissokone staff will provide training and guidance, as needed. They are just outstanding! Most days will begin by grooming your horse. This intimate one-on-one time is often a highlight for campers, ranging from playful to profound. Every day will also have ample riding time, and a little technical instruction tailored to your level and interest. Most campers leave with a deep connection to "their" horse

Supplies and limitations:  The YMCA requires closed toe shoes (no sandals/crocs/ flip flops, etc.) and long pants.  Long sleeved shirts are recommended because of vegetation along the paths but not required.  The horses at Nissokone are mainly used for children.  They can't handle campers over 275 pounds.  The YMCA provides and requires use of helmets. 



Mosaic stained glass  - Don Spencer

Make a stained glass panel that lets light thru, a framed mirror, or a 3 dimensional piece. We will learn basic techniques of cutting and breaking glass, and some ideas of design. No Soldering, no lead!

This way of working with stained glass leaves more room for improvising and creativity than traditional leaded glass. Don will provide glass and tools to use, bring your ideas and Don will bring choices for art work.

For this group: You can bring your own designs, and even work in a different size or in 3-D, if you O.K. it with Don first. Beyond the basics, it’s possible to do 3 dimensional projects, like candle holders or lamp shades, or flat panels of different shapes on wood; if you bring your own base piece in the shape you want. If you are planning on doing your own design or a 3-D piece or incorporating non-glass elements, please send your ideas to Don at before camp so he can advise on suitability. If you are looking for project ideas or to learn more about mosaic work, Don recommends The Mosaic Artist's Bible by Teresa Mills and available from Amazon. (Note: group assignments are announced by early June.)

Fees: There is a $20 material cost, payable to Don.



Active Hope: Facing the challenges of today  - Verne McArthur

Nothing has raised the challenge of maintaining hope in moving toward sustainability (i.e., saving our world!) quite like the election of Donald Trump. This is a moment when we need the insights and practices of Joanna Macy’s ‘active hope’ process more than ever. So I offer such a workshop again this year.

This morning group is for those who feel a need to find a base from which to face honestly the challenges in front of us—both environmental and social. Active hope is a practice. It’s grounded in deepening our connection to nature—finding our ‘ecological self’—and drawing fresh energy from this connection, which enables us to move beyond despair and discouragement to a sense of empowerment and action.

And with Wendell Berry, my philosophy is: “Be joyful, even though you’ve considered all the facts”. So both challenging and uplifting. We’ll spend time outdoors falling in love with the world all over again, we’ll use various experiential exercises, including humor and games, we’ll look at the peoples’ movements newly energized by Trump’s election, and we’ll explore various ways to act in our own lives and with others.

The Active Hope process is rich in exercises—no two workshops are the same—and so helpful and meaningful whether you’ve been before or not.


Tennis  - Sandy Kreger

Come play tennis, and enjoy the outdoors!  We'll do drills, and mostly doubles play.

Supplies:  For this group, you'll want to bring a tennis racket and an unopened can of tennis balls.



Managing money in the 21st century - Steve Lyskawa

Things have changed since the days when you cashed your paycheck at the bank and you only had one savings and checking account which you balanced on the back of your printed statement. Protecting your accounts from illegal use is harder than keeping your checks locked up or writing Void and tearing them up.

In this morning group, we will explore your current relationship with money and how money affects your relationships. Money can be a hot button topic and we will examine the emotions we have concerning money. As a group will discuss how we set and achieve our financial goals.

We will discuss the technical aspect of managing money and what tools are available and how they work.

Some of the topics which may be covered depending on interest:

Supplies:  For this group, a smartphone, tablet or laptop would be beneficial if you want to try things out..



Understanding Ourselves & Connecting with Others - Ann-Patrice Foley

This group will be a discussion group which will include activities and meditation; supporting each of us to get to know ourselves and each other on a deeper level.

Supplies:  Requested, not required: Bring a picture of yourself as a baby or young child.



Our bodies, our power, our peace - Mary Seibert and Kari Gunderson

Come join Mary and Kari for a week of health and serenity. Yoga, light massage, strength-training with bands, meditation/guided imagery and movement/walks will be offered. We imagine that there may also be fortuitous contributions from class members. We'll also allow free moments and flexibility for individual wants and needs. Discover what nourishes you. Prerequisite: must be able to get up and down off the floor.

Supplies:  For this group bring a yoga mat, a blanket which is not slippery, 2 towels, and 1 sock (long enough for 2 tennis balls, a knot, and a few inches left over).


Fishing Lake Van Etten   - Kevin Melchert

This group will spend the week exploring lake Van Etten. We will have the opportunity to enjoy nature and learn about fishing. A relaxing morning on the lake will give participants to connect emotionally each day. Beginners are welcome.

Supplies:  For this group, you'll want to bring fishing poles and lures if you have them. A Michigan fishing license will be required. Licenses can be purchased near Nissokone or online.

Fees: There may be a material cost, payable to Kevin for lure costs.


Vacation Lounge   - Gretchen Suhre

In this group each participant will pursue a personal endeavor or pastime, such as knitting, watercolor, sketching, crafts, reading, writing, crosswords, scrapbooking, embroidery, sudoku, meditation, etc.  Perhaps you have a project or book that you'd like to spend some time with in the mornings, along with other campers. We'd have fun together and chat as we pursued our various activities in the Vacation Lounge.

Supplies:  For this group, you'll want to bring any supplies and tools to do your own chosen project. No equipment will be provided.



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