Erica Thomas

Imagine a hot, bubble bath to sink into after an exhausting day or week. The warm water helps relax tired muscles, the fragrance of the bubbles soothes your olfactory system, and you can rest your mind as you soak. Now, imagine taking a bath without a bathtub. Wait, what?! Yes, remove the bathtub and replace it with a forest. Angel Janssen is our forest bathing instructor and will also be one of our massage therapists that is available during Harmony Retreat. Here is a quick introduction from Angel about forest bathing.

Shinrin-yoku is the name given to the Japanese art of “forest bathing.” A Forest Bath is a form of active meditation. It is a way to enjoy nature and unwind at a very deep level using all the senses.
Forest Bathing is active contemplative time in the woods in an oxygen rich environment some even speculate that the plants and trees in the forest release compounds into the air that stimulate our immune systems. Tune into the sound of the breeze in the trees and the song of birds. Enjoy the touch of dappled sunlight on the skin.  Breathe deeply the earthy smell of the forest, inhale the fragrance of sun warmed pine. Gaze at the deep green healing color of the forest, let it soothe the mind and body.
Shinrin-yoku has been recognized by the Japanese government since 1982 and has been endorsed by the Forest Agency of Japan as a means of improving quality of life. Highly valued in Japan, it is fast becoming popular around the world. Come indulge in a forest bath with me at Harmony Retreat this August.  Take the time to reconnect with nature and value the forest in a whole new way. Realize all over again the wealth we have at our fingertips here in the UP! ~ Angel

Angel Janssen, LMT is a massage therapist in practice for 25 years. The focus of her practice is pain relief, stress reduction and health maintenance. Angel’s favorite place to Forest Bathe is in the woods surrounding her home in Toivola, MI.

Want to learn more? Check out these links!

Why Our Connection With Nature Matters


Are you a bit of an Essential Oil skeptic? I was too!

I used to think Essential Oils were just a bunch of smelly perfumes or room scents. I honestly wasn’t interested in trying them myself, until one of my former Camp Michigamme campers started posting on Facebook about how a blend of Essential Oils had helped her husband with his seasonal respiratory issues. My son was having trouble with the same health issue, so I reached out to her and asked what all the fuss about oils was. That day began my love for natural wellness.

Essential oils are the natural, aromatic compounds that are distilled from plants. They come from every part of the plant: stems, roots, resins, leaves, petals, grasses, even the rinds of some fruit! These oils are very powerful and concentrated, 50 to 70 times more powerful than herbs. Just 1 drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea!

Their purpose is to protect plants from predators, attract pollinators, and give them their aromas. And fortunately for us, God made plants and people to go perfectly together, so we humans can take advantage of the benefits of these oils as well.

Essential oils can be used to support your body’s systems in the following ways:

  • Minimize the effects of seasonal threats
  • Maintain feelings of clear airways and easy breathing
  • Promote feelings of relaxation and balance mood
  • Promote a restful sleeping environment
  • Reduce the appearance of skin imperfections, fine lines, and wrinkles
  • Promote healthy metabolism & help manage hunger cravings
  • Cleanse and purify the air and surfaces
  • Help reduce bloating, gas, and occasional indigestion
  • Support the immune system

Many people believe oils are a new fad, but they’ve been used for centuries, going all the way back to 3500 BC, when the Egyptians used plants for health, food, religious, and beauty purposes. Many oils are talked about in the Bible. For example, the “perfume” that Mary poured on Jesus’ feet was actually Spikenard Essential Oil, which has grounding and calming properties.

There are three ways to use Essential Oils:

  1. Aromatically: This just means you breathe the oil in. Inhaling the aroma of essential oils is especially good for situations in which you want to promote feelings of clear breathing, boost mood, or create a relaxing atmosphere.
  2. Topically: This means you apply the oil to your skin. It’s important to dilute oils if you have sensitive skin or if you’re using oils with children. A little goes a long way. Just a drop or two of Essential Oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil (such as coconut, almond, or olive oil) is all you need. Diluting oils doesn’t reduce their effectiveness; it just reduces the chance of skin irritation.
  3. Internally:  With internal use, you put a drop of oil under your tongue, in your water, or in a gel capsule. Not all oils can be taken internally, and it’s VERY important to only ingest the highest quality oils that are proven, through testing, to be free of fillers and toxins.

Essential oils are tried and true natural wellness solutions, and I feel confident using them for my family. It’s extra special to me that it was one of my campers who introduced me to oils.

Jenifer Brady has been an Essential Oils Educator and Wellness Advoate with doTERRA since 2015. She is an author, mother, wife, dean, counselor, and more. She lives with her husband, Jeremy, and their two kids in Northern Wisconsin. She grew up going to Camp Michigamme as a kid from 1989-1992, returned to be a volunteer counselor in 1995 and has been counseling every summer since! She was also a dean for the Fall Retreat from 2000-2016 and is one of the Junior High Camp’s deans this summer!

If you would like to learn more about Essential Oils, visit or on Facebook.

I can recall the summers I spent shaking my fist at those pesky zombie-like dandelions that would pop up overnight and those other plants with the annoying sticky stickers. Those weeds are only good at getting in the way!

Well, actually, those weeds are good for something. And that something is you (your body more specifically) and your garden. My grandmother used to say that it’s only a weed if you don’t want it in your garden. Here’s a cool article by Tenth Acre Farm that talks about the benefits of certain “weeds” (beyond their edibleness) for a garden that is often overlooked.

Or perhaps you are more like me where the green thumb seems to be missing in action and a garden is the last thing you’d want to try to do on purpose. So let’s take a closer look at those “weeds” and plants that are right under our noses. Dandelions, burdock (the stickery sticker plant that inspired the invention of Velcro), clovers, plantains (not like the banana), wild violets, wood sorrel, and creeping charlie are all considered “weeds” to most, but each of theses plants is edible and has nutrition qualities that rival or surpass the greens we eat from the farmers market or produce department.There will probably be at least one or two plants that you’ve seen for years and had no idea what it called or that it could be eaten!

Going beyond your garden and out onto a trail and into nature, we are surrounded by nutritious, edible plants. We are also surrounded by not so edible, down right bad for human consumption plants (see the disclaimer below). The trick is knowing what you are looking for. Once you learn to identify plants properly then you can learn how to harvest and prepare them. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the FREE nutrition that is all over nature?

When it comes to proper identification, that’s where Erica comes in. Erica is the Camp Director at Camp Michigamme and one of her passions is flora and fauna. She has spent hours and days out in the woods, wetlands, fields, and streams learning about plants, how to properly identify them, how to identify potential poisonous lookalikes, how to harvest them in an eco-friendly way, what parts to harvest and prepare, and how to prepare them for consumption. One of her other passions is sharing this knowledge with others. She developed the wild edibles outdoor education program at Camp Henry for their year round retreats and school groups. She has also learned from several professionals in the field including Lisa M. Rose, author of Midwest Foraging, and Luke McLaughlin, founder of the Holistic Survival School.

Erica will be leading introductory wild edible sessions that focus on identification and foraging during Harmony Retreat this August. In one session, you’ll walk away with at least five plants you can identify confidently. You’ll have the chance to try several plants during the session and you’ll have the opportunity to harvest your own wild greens salad! If the season is right, you may even have the chance to make pink lemonade without a single lemon!

Disclaimer alert: Do NOT consume a plant unless you are 100% sure of what it is and how to consume it properly. This includes how to properly harvest, what parts are edible, and how to prepare it. When in doubt, don’t eat it. As with any new food, your body may take some time to get accustom to it, therefore it is always recommended that your introduce a new plant into your diet gradually. Certain plants, like Sweet Goldenrod, are known for the havoc they cause some folks with seasonal allergies and therefore should not be consumed by those folks.

Interested in learning more about those weeds (I prefer to call them free veggies!) that will be popping up in your yard this spring before Harmony Retreat? Check out these websites for more information!

Happy Foraging!

Five Weeds You WANT in Your Garden

Good starting point

If you only read one article, let it be this one


Pat and Nadine Waeghe, Harmony Retreat Founders and Deans

Meet Pat Waeghe, Co-Harmony Retreat Dean

Even though my working career is being a commercial Interior Designer, my love of family, God and the out of doors/being physically fit has led me to want to create/offer a health camp for adults at Camp Michigamme.

So many people today are stressed out, eat poorly due to lack of time and put off exercise, so my daughter, Nadine, and I teamed up to use our most favorite spot in God’s awesome earth, Camp Michigamme of course, to invite others to join us in a 4- day introductory journey (retreat) to learn how to become physically, mentally, socially AND spiritually healthy and balanced.

She has the total professional health and wellness background and grew up here in the UP. However she now lives in California so I am the main organizer before the event and she runs the show during the retreat.

This will be our 4th year for this camp and we have added many enthusiastic new people to our team, so we are excited to offer their expertise and to learn and grow together. Each year has only gotten better! I am excited for what Harmony 2018 holds!


Pat Waeghe at the Grace Hall deck in the spring


Meet Nadine Waeghe, MPT, ATC

Physical Therapist and Certified Athletic Trainer

I graduated with a BS from Hillsdale College and Master of Physical Therapy degree from Emory University.  I furthered my education through Michigan State University’s CME Osteopathic Manual Therapy program and countless continued education courses in a variety of specialties.  I am considered an expert in Biomechanics, Footwear Design, Sport-Specific Rehabilitation, Sport Mechanics Analysis, Therapeutic Taping, and Manual Therapy.

I have provided sports medicine services for athletes at large urban and suburban high schools, NCAA Division I, II, & III colleges, the US Olympic Training Center, Special Olympics, and the WTA as well as many other professional, amateur and recreational sporting organizations and events.  Beyond sports, I have outpatient orthopedic clinical and inpatient spinal cord injury rehabilitation experiences.  I currently owns and operates Elevate Performance and Physical Therapy in Redwood City, CA where I provide integrative physiotherapy services to a large variety of clientele of all ages.

Originally from the UP, I first attended Camp Michigamme as a toddler accompanying my mother, Pat, an elementary camp counselor.  I participated in at least one camp every summer through college and tries to come back whenever possible!  My hobbies include anything and everything outside – kayaking, hiking, swimming (sort of), and skiing.  I am an avid traveler and enjoys sharing stories of my global experiences!

I will offer interesting, hands-on lectures and one-on-one private sessions to provide advice and recommendations on a number of topics.  Be sure to sign up to spend some time with me and you’ll come away with helpful tips, simple exercise strategies and better posture!


Nadine instructing a movement activity


Harmony Retreat 2018: Exploring Balance runs from August 23rd – August 26th, 2018 at Camp Michigamme, 3667 US Hwy 41, Michigamme, MI 49861. Cost is $270 with a $30 discount if you register before May 1st, 2018. For more information on Harmony Retreat or sign up for the monthly newsletter or register today!

One of the most anticipated programs for Harmony 2018 is the addition of rowing. UP Rowing, based in Marquette on the shores of Lake Superior and Terry Smythe, a rowing legend based in the Houghton/Hancock area are partnering with Camp Michigamme to offer an introduction to the sport of rowing. We sat down with Kristi Hintz, a member of the UP Rowing Crew from Marquette to find out why she got involved with rowing.

8 woman crew plus the coxswain after a row

Kristi Hintz has been a member of UP Rowing (formerly known as UPCRC) for the past 3 seasons. She had never rowed a scull before she joined but fell in love with the sport and the team camaraderie, not to mention that it is a great workout for all four seasons!

Kristi, how did you first get involved in UP Rowing (formerly UPCRC)?

When we first moved to Marquette, we saw them out on the water, in Lake Superior. Then I saw a flyer for the club and was interested in getting more involved in the community. I was fascinated with being on Lake Superior because I love to be on the water. And I was interested in a healthy challenge that is both a workout and a team effort. I tried out the Learn to Row program 3 summers ago and fell in love with the sport, the club, and the camaraderie. It’s not the way things were in my mom’s generation, there’s a lot more opportunity to get out and get active for women of all ages. Plus, rowing is a sport that contains everything I like! Water, workouts, challenges, and teamwork.

Rowing oars all lined up and ready to go!

Had you ever rowed before trying the Learn to Row program?

I’ve never lived in a place where you could row simply because of geography and not being near a body of water that was conducive to rowing. I also wasn’t looking because it never dawned on me to try it out before I came to Marquette.

You transitioned from the Learn to Row program into the club the same summer you started. What made you want to continue in the sport?

I learned that everyone can do it! The equipment, the shells, the rigging, the oars, and the ability to store and transport them, is expensive. BUT, unlike many other sports, you don’t have to buy those things to be a part of the club. The club owns them so you just need a life jacket. Personal equipment is very minimal.

And the sisterhood of the crew played a big role. I’d found a place with strong women doing a cool sport in snazzy clothes. It is a place where regardless of your age, ability, skill level, or fitness level, you are welcomed and encouraged. 

Teamwork is needed to get the rowing shells into the lake

How would you describe the sport of rowing to someone who is curious about it?

I’d said that rowing is for everyone. It is a lifelong sport meaning you can start at any age and you can participate well into your later years. And it’s the perfect sport for people who won’t necessarily consider themselves athletic as well as those that do! Unlike many other hobbies or sports the amount of equipment needed quite small. There’s no impact and it is rewarding because it is a team sport. We row together. It’s a sisterhood.

You’ve mentioned that is a sisterhood and team sport. Tell us more about that.

Even if you row a single scull, you are never out on the lake alone. And it’s a very positive and encouraging environment. We lift each other up as we row, regardless of ability, speed, or strength. There’s also accountability to the team to show up. You are counting on them to show up and they are counting on you. If you are planning on rowing an 8 person shell, you are going to need all 8 to show up plus a coxswain and the safety launch crew. If one rower doesn’t show, you can’t row with 7. It may not help get the laundry done or dinner on the table but you leave feeling fulfilled by the time spent on the water or in the winter, spent on the ergs (Ergs are indoor rowing machines). And there is always something new to learn. You can always improve different parts of your technique and form. Every time I get in the boat, I learn something and it’s the sisterhood that cultivates a positive learning environment.

The UP Rowing crew after a regatta

What is your favorite moment from your past 3 seasons of rowing?

I’d have to say that it’s the moment your boat rows a perfect stroke together. When you’ve rowed a beautiful stroke, with 4 or 8 people or even in a single, it’s like “Oh yea, this is it. This is why we do this!” It’s a fantastic feeling as you slide right over the water together.

Rowing on Lake Superior

You talked about the Learn to Row program. When does that happen and what can someone expect if they decided to try it out?

Learn to Row starts in June each year. Everyone, adults and youth, are invited to come to the information session. This year it is happening on June 5th at Marquette Hope Connection Center, 927 W. Fair Ave, Marquette. After the information session, you’d go take a swimming test and fill out paperwork. Then you are assigned a boat and a coach and a time to row! After a handful of weeks of learning about the sport, practicing your technique and feeling out the equipment, you are welcomed to join the rowing club for the remainder of the season. This means you can sign up for regular rows with the crew and if interested, participate in a regatta or two. There is flexibility in the sport as well. Because we are volunteer club, you can sign up to row or help man the safety launch or learn to be a coxswain. We all rotate through the various roles so that others can row too. You can also row almost every day or once a week depending on your schedule and level of commitment.

Where can folks find out more about rowing?

You can visit the FaceBook page foUP Rowing. You can also email or visit the website. There is also a great program called UCanRow2 that helps people get involved with rowing and rowing workouts. If you don’t live near Marquette or Houghton/Hancock areas, there are rowing clubs throughout the US. In fact there’s an entire crew of women down in Chicago that are all breast cancer survivors! They made the cover of the magazine Athletica last fall and are truly a crew of strong women, supporting, and empowering each other through their sport and on their journey.

Thanks Kristi for sharing your sport with us!

We hope that you’ll join us in August as we bring out ergs on land and shells on Lake Michigamme along with several coaches and local rowing club members to help us learn and try out the amazing sport of rowing!

Harmony Retreat 2018: Exploring Balance runs from August 23rd – August 26th, 2018 at Camp Michigamme, 3667 US Hwy 41, Michigamme, MI 49861. Cost is $270 with a $30 discount if you register before May 1st, 2018. For more information on Harmony Retreat or sign up for the monthly newsletter or register today!

Passing on our faith is the greatest legacy that we can leave.

95 years ago the faithful people in our Methodist Marquette District decided one important way to be faithful disciples and build the kingdom of God was to purchase land deeded and dedicated as Michigamme Methodist Institute, Inc. (a.k.a. Camp Michigamme) as a part of their communities future roadmap to heaven.

As good stewards, each of us plays an important role in preserving and extending our Christian faith by supporting our churches, and through planned giving. Our Church depends on you and all the people of God to support the good works of proclaiming the Gospel and saving souls. We are called to set aside part of our income to support the Church’s mission, now and when we are gone. We have a responsibility to provide for our families and a responsibility to build a solid faith foundation for future generations.

Make a Legacy Gift …

Imagine the good that could be done if our alumni and friends made a legacy gift, or remembered Camp Michigamme in their Will or Estate Plan. The impact would be immeasurable! A legacy gift is often made in memory or honor of a person or family, and your gift can be designated to support camperships, programs or facility improvements. Legacy gifts enable us to:

  • Complete facility renovations and maintain a safe and up-to-date camp facility.
  • Enhance and grow the life-changing summer camping programs for the children, teens and young adults we serve.
  • Develop new and needed programs for all, including adults and retirees to grow as Christians and deal with life challenges.
  • Partner with other churches and organizations and serve people not presently served.
  • Provide financial stability for Camp Michigamme to meet the present and future needs of a dynamic and growing mission.

Development Fund – Gifts to the Camp Michigamme Development Fund are unrestricted and will be used to meet current program and facility needs and priorities. The Development Fund also provides the resources to meet unforeseen financial challenges. Donors may designate their gift to meet a specific need. Donations of all amounts, large or modest, are welcome and appreciated.

Endowment Funds – Keep Giving Forever! Your gifts in the form of an Endowment Fund are restricted. The amount of the original gift will never be spent, but will be invested and allowed to grow. The income will be used each year to support program and facility needs, in keeping with your wishes. (For example, an endowment gift of $100,000, designated to sponsor camperships, would generate the income to meet the costs for at least 8 children on full ride scholarships to attend Camp Michigamme each summer.)

Both Development and Endowment funding are hugely important for the future of Camp Michigamme and our ability to continue being that place where people come for a retreat from their busy lives, where they can meet God in nature and deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of a Legacy gift!

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