By Bruce Stambaugh
Children see the world so much differently than adults. That can be a positive thing.
In my mind, there is no better place to experience that than Lakeside, Ohio. It’s one reason my wife and I return for our annual vacation respite year after year.
The inquisitive nature and creative imagination of children were on display the minute we arrived at this Chautauqua on Lake Erie. A recent wild rain and windstorm had taken down some trees where we stay. Truncated remnants of one of the smaller trees still looked freshly cut.
As my wife and I pulled our suitcases into our cozy efficiency apartment, a clutch of preschoolers played around those woody remains. One of the kids, not four years old, said, “Look, a smiley face!”
The child was right. Smack in the middle of the light wood rings darker imperfections perfectly mirrored the ubiquitous smiling icon. Anyone other than a child would have walked right by the gnarly stub without noticing the fascinating find.
It took a child. Spontaneous or planned, many inspirational opportunities await all ages at Lakeside. It’s the jewel in the crown that swells the summer resort town to 6,000 from the 300 year-round residents.
Inquisitive by nature, youngsters from toddlers to teens tend to view the world from an entirely different perspective than do the older generations of their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Given all of their learnedness and life experience, adults can too easily dismiss the findings and discoveries of their progeny.
At Lakeside, a stiff lake breeze blows away that theory. Imagination and Lakeside are inseparable.
During the summer months, Lakeside becomes a gated community. It’s as if when the gates close, minds open. In part, that’s by design.
Click on the photos to enlarge them.
Lakeside’s four pillars of purpose highlight religion, education, recreation, and arts and entertainment. Imagination is the header that secures those fundamental principles together.
The Lakeside staff and volunteers go all out to encourage participants of every generation to create, recreate, reflect and uplift. Activities befitting the quartet of categories run from sunrise to beyond sunset.
People choose how to engage their imagination. The options are limitless at Lakeside.
A young, energetic girl wearing a florescent yellow fairy skirt barked out orders to her small troop of followers as she cycled ahead. Their animated play and laughter took them past quaint cottages. In their world, they may have been exploring the Grand Canyon.
The lakeshore drew others to sunbathe, walk, read and dream as sailboats big and small tacked their courses. A roaring cigarette boat occasionally disturbed the peace. At the shuffleboard courts, still others tested their strategy skills and dreamed of winning the tournament championship.
Schools of families camped on the dock plied for whatever nibbled. Fish or no fish, their time together exceeded any catch imaginable.
Youth groups sang, studied and tested each other’s faith with blind trust games. It didn’t take much imagination to see that letting go and learning to lead truly went hand-in-hand.
Artists applied paint to brush to canvas to the delight of admirers. They dabbed their creativity into familiar scenes with stunning results.
Imagine yourself lying in a hammock strung between a pair of giant shade trees as Baltimore Orioles warble and Common Nighthawks dart overhead. That is the reality at Lakeside.
Seeing a smiley face in the middle of a stump perfectly sums up the Lakeside life. Imagination thrives there. It’s why we keep going back.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2015