Beach construction underway at Pretty Lake Camp as lake levels continue to rise

After more than 10 years in place, Pretty Lake Camp's board walk will have to be removed after high lake levels engulf it. (WWMT/Randi Burns)

Across West Michigan, lake levels continue to rise after a very wet spring, but Pretty Lake Camp has brought back the beach for the camp kids.

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids posted on their Twitter Friday morning that Kalamazoo received more than 12-inches of rain in the months of March, April and May. About three inches more than what Kalamazoo typically receives in the three-month span.

"We anticipated the water levels were going to be extremely high this year, but we didn't anticipate they would be this high," Eric Wimbley, CEO of Pretty Lake Camp said.

Pretty Lake Camp in Mattawan planned for construction along the lake in order to help reconstruct one of several things affected by the high lake levels.

As the lake levels increased, two buildings of the camp were flooded, the boardwalk that had been in place for over 10 years had become completely overtaken by the rising water, and the beaches were no more.

With camp beginning on June 17, 2019, construction was underway to help bring back the beaches for the kids planning to attend camp.

"We are actually creating supplemental beaches," Wimbley said. "The kids will still be able to fully participate in swimming lessons, swimming plans, they will fully be able to participate in water sports."

The camp decided to remove water tubing from the camp agenda. In order to prevent any more erosion, the camp also implemented a no-wake rule on the lake for the summer of 2019.

In 2018, donations from the community allowed for a floating docks to be implemented in order to help continue the summer water programs.

"Last year, with the water levels as high as they were then, we anticipated it was going to be difficult to continue with our summer program," Wimbley said. "We were able to get some support from some generous foundations to purchase floating docks."

Lake levels have affected the roads around the camp as well.

"Three different areas of our roads have completely flooded, we've had to do some work but they have since again flooded. So we have some serious road damage," Facilities Director at Pretty Lake Camp, Ron Saline, said.

Saline said they planned to continue with water projects throughout the summer.

"We're hoping for a dry June, but we're planning on a wet June," Saline said. "We're doing all kinds of water projects to continue our operations: moving equipment, setting up new areas, and then planning for the worst."

Wimbley said this will still be a great summer for the kids attending camp, despite the higher lake levels.

"Summer camp is still going to be amazing, we've been doing this for 103 years and this is just one small barrier we have to get over in order to provide this amazing opportunity for children," Wimbley said.