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Bjorklunden offers unique learning opportunities

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Door County, we all know it as a getaway — a perfect vacation spot to unwind among the woods and Lake Michigan. What you may not know it as is a place to enrich one’s academic opportunities — but that’s because you haven’t yet experienced Bjorklunden, the lodge owned by Lawrence University in Baileys Harbor.

The 425-acre estate boasts beautiful scenery of woods and more than a mile of Lake Michigan shoreline, as well as a historic Norwegian-style chapel and 2-story main lodge. The property was donated to Lawrence in 1963 by Donald and Winifred Boynton with the condition that it be preserved as a place of peace and contemplation.

Bjork-hikeBjorklunden allows Lawrence students to do just that: to contemplate in peace. Students have the chance to continue their academic or extracurricular goals in a retreat-setting — completely for free. The lodge is funded by donations from alumni, family of students and community members to the Lawrence Fund. Kayla O’Brien, associate director of Annual Giving at Lawrence, works with the Boynton Society — people who choose to specifically designate their gift to Bjorklunden — and Door County, along with area residents who support Bjork. O’Brien stressed just how meaningful this support is. “A large part of what makes Bjorklunden special is that we have the capacity to open this wonderful opportunity to students free of charge. It’s not included in tuition, you don’t pay when you attend — this happens because people donate to Bjorklunden,” O’Brien says.

Bjorklunden also is open to the community for seminars throughout the year, but often, attendees don’t realize what they are supporting. “I think a lot of people in Door County and even some in the surrounding areas that attend Bjorklunden don’t even understand that it has a Lawrence connection,” O’Brien says. “The reason we open the lodge up to the public is to be a good neighbor to Door County and give them the opportunity to have lifelong learning and interdisciplinary academic opportunities, which Lawrence clearly believes in.”

Bjork-lakeTo kick off the seminar season, Bjorklunden had a sneak peak event on May 3 called “This Is Bjorklunden.” The event combined Lawrence students with Lawrence alumni and community members for an afternoon. Attendees went for a walk around the grounds, had lunch, attended a lecture by history professor Jerald Podair and watched a concert directed by opera studies professor Copeland Woodruff. “About 80 people attended, and it was a good mix of alumni, parents and community members,” O’Brien says. “The point is to attract people who have never been there, and I think we did a good job with that.”

The point is also to give people a taste of what Bjork has to offer in the summer and fall. “We do adult seminars every week. Some are very academic, some are more crafty, some are trail-based — everything from watercolor expressions to bird listening,” O’Brien says. “During the summer we also have weekly chapel tours, and we’re always open to people just stopping in to check out the grounds. We have wonderful staff at the lodge who are happy to show people around and give them more information.”

Basically, you need to get up to Bjorklunden — whether it’s for a seminar that interests you, you want to hold a private event, or you just want to stop by and walk around. O’Brien says, “It’s this amazing location. You feel this instant serene feeling when you get up there. It’s a very friendly place to be, and we welcome anyone who wants to be there.”

To register for seminars or for more information, call the lodge at 839-2216 and ask for Samantha, or send her an email at samantha.a.szynskie@lawrence.edu.

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