Posted by: Jim E | July 28, 2016

Cabin…Many Point Scout Camp…Lake House…Listening Point…

Somehow when I read something, really anything, my mind goes over the last 70 years or so…and comes up with a variety of experiences and memories…not all of them good, not all bad…just lots of them…last week I got my July/August issue of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer…it covers lots of topics, all having to do with Minnesota Minnesota Conservation Volunteerconservation and management of the state’s resources…includes hunting and fishing as well as recreational opportunities like hiking, biking and the like…and the sustainable use of natural resources…it’s a wonderful magazine and one I sit down almost immediately and read…great photographs and articles written by people committed to those same goals…

Of all the great articles, I really liked the one called “Cabin Talk”…a fun, informativeListening Point cabin Sigurd Olson article…and one that made me think a bit…the author was at a luncheon held by the Listening Point Foundation, “which honors the late writer and naturalist Sigurd Olson.”…they want to preserve his legacy…to educate others about wilderness…the name Listening Point is the name of his cabin on Burntside Lake in Northern Minnesota…where he wrote and lived…

I loved the name Listening Point…the wilderness or any quiet place is certainly a place to listen…in our culture there are few places we have to sit quietly and listen…and think…seems everyone is busy doing “other” things…the ubiquitous cell phone…music…video…all destroy time to sit quietly and listen…to see nature and all it holds, really time to meditate…I remember when I was 15, going to Jefferson Jefferson Junior High School, Minneapolis, MNJunior High school in Minneapolis, I was involved with Boy Scouts, with a friend of mine…we both were working on our Eagle Scout Award…and also waiting  with anticipation for our new high school, Golden Valley High School to be completed…I don’t think any of us who were “bused” into Minneapolis from Golden Valley especially liked Jefferson, as we called it…

I really don’t remember how it happened, nor why it happened, nor why my Mom and Dad allowed me to do it…but that summer I applied to be a counselor in training (CIT) at Many Point Scout Camp in Northern Minnesota…near Ponsford and Detroit Lakes Many Point Scout CampMinnesota…we were assigned to various places for a week over the 5 or 6 weeks of the summer…we worked 6 days a week and had one day off…that day we could go into DL (Detroit Lakes) or could stay at Many Point…I went to DL a couple of times, but most times I spent at the area I was assigned…I remember reading the book “Through Gates of Splendor” by Elizabeth Elliot, sitting on a huge beaver dam just off an old logging road…I just happened upon it…going down a small hill and up another…little did I know it was the front of a beaver dam…when I got to the top of the small hill and expanse of water was in front of me…and beaver doing what beavers do…I was able to spend hours there over the summer…and it was an easy place to think, meditate and plan…my life changed on that beaver dam…

I learned then to enjoy quiet, to hear things that I never paid attention to before…and to learn to be alone and observant of things around me…I’ve never forgotten it…it was years later I read a memoir of a classmate who wrote about the summer between Jefferson and Golden Valley High School…as I read, over 50 years later, I found what happened during that summer when I was a CIT at Many Point, but my classmates had a whole different summer…I guess as I read, I was happy I had the experience that I did…

One of the places I “served” at Many Point, was at the Gate Lodge…it was 2 miles or so outside the main camp…it was a log cabin, as such, and we had to check in anyone who was coming to camp, a long pole gate we had to lift up and down…there were two of us assigned there, I don’t think there was electricity, plumbing, etc…it would seem that I would remember that, but I don’t…we had a hand pump to get water and Coleman lanterns for light…and I suppose an outhouse, but again I don’t remember that for sure…but I do remember being alone and at night, it really got dark and quiet…Old truck like at Many Point

Our meals were delivered in what they called “hotpacks”…I think we got three meals a day…we could hear those old trucks coming out to us for a long distance…they were old WWII trucks, no doors, rusted out…no mufflers…they were great…we loved them so did the drivers…but where we stayed was a cabin, for sure, maybe 10 x 10…bunk-beds made out of pole pine, a sink…mice by the hundreds…Oh, it might have been the thousands…we would stay quiet for a few seconds and out they would come…we broke a few brooms killing those varmints…I don’t think we ever thought about those mice at night, no doubt they were all over everything, including us…so much for cabin life in Northern Minnesota…

Cabins, like Listening Point, are still around and other cabins of all sizes and shapes…from Lake house to shacks, those with amenities of all kinds and those without…but all in all it is the place we make it…is it just another home like we left or is it a place where we energize our lives, to look at nature in a new way, to see the God who made all this in a new and real way…that is what we all should want…the swimming, fishing, meditating, the sitting and looking out at all that wonder…

The article that started all this had a story that all of us fit into,Minnesota Backyard one way or another…the author sat near a 10 year old boy and his Dad at the luncheon…he asked the boy if they had a cabin…”‘We have a place on a lake up by Ely,’ he said. I pressed him for the name of the lake and when he offered it, told him of my adventures near there.”…his Dad was listening in, smiling…”‘I wouldn’t call it a cabin,’ the boy said reluctantly. ‘It’s pretty big.'”…he had already at his young age picked up on what a “cabin” was suppose to be…the author went on to say, it is not the “cabin” that matters most…it’s the natural world surrounding the cabin…the final exchange between the Dad and Son was great…”‘It doesn’t matter how big it is,’ his Dad said. ‘We can call it a cabin if we want to.’…’Dad, we can’t call it a cabin,’ his son objected. ‘It has air conditioning!'”

So enjoy your cabin, deck, porch, back yard, lake house, whatever…it’s the natural world surrounding the cabin that is important…


  1. As usual, so nice Jim. I too went to Many Point with a different GV Troop for a couple of years, maybe a little younger, and remember it mostly fondly as well.

    • Pete…thanks for the comments…Denny Miller got me involved in Scouts, he was somehow involved at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church, though he was Catholic, and that’s where our troop #7 met…I loved it…and though I got started later I saw how wonderful it was…and there was not only direction but advancement opportunities, and to me at that time in my life, it was “red meat”…I was involved with Cub Scouts earlier but when I started back again, I started as an explorer scout as I remember…that was the uniform I started with…do you remember, I think on the 4th floor at Daytons, (or some floor) the Boy Scout area…all kinds of stuff to buy…I still had lots of that stuff up to having kids and they kind of took it over…first aid kits, knife, mess kit, footlocker, hatchet, etc…most of it is gone now, into the treasure trove of my kids and grandkids…the Eagle was like dangling a reachable goal for me…Denny too, hey right now I look at my wall in front of me…there is a picture of Denny and I at our Eagle ceremony, my merit badge sash, Order of the Arrow, etc…we got Eagle, I think in our 10th grade year at GV…I got some of the last merit badges at Many Point the summer I worked there…I too went there with our troop a couple of times at the Duluth campsite…cooked our own food, etc…a great time…Scouting was a great time for me…showed an unsure kid that goals in life were actually reachable with hard work and responsibility…and sharing and helping others along the way…in these 74 years plus, I have found that to be true…saw that in you too, as I watched you, and assume you have had that experience in your life too…thanks again…Jim E

  2. Jim, great to see you’re still blogging original postings occasionally! I always cherish your introspection and soulful, faithful outlook on life! For that I thank you!
    This post makes me think back on my own experiences. Like you, I had a Northern Minnesota camping experience (Brainerd Lakes area) where I worked in the camp office of a private boys camp. My ‘listening point’ wasn’t quite as wild as your beaver dam, but I certainly enjoyed the evenings after the camp quieted down and I could swim out to the diving platform all alone and contemplate the pros and cons of belly button lint while listening to the loons, hearing the fish slap the surface of the lake and watch the bugs dance across the surface of the water as the sun sunk below the horizon. Thank you again for bringing those memories back to me tonight.
    Patty B.

    BTW…hope you and the family continue to receive and enjoy your holiday Ingebretson’s fix!

    • Patty…thanks, and hello again…I see, you “get it”…and have had those experiences too…Northern Minnesota does have its pleasures for sure…here in Arkansas, we wake up to heat and humidity…dewpoints in the 70’s and temps already in the 80’s…and I always start my day with a check of the weather in Minnesota…dewpoints in the 40’s and 50’s…and low temps…and I remember those cool mornings…and in the North, almost cold to the skin…I used to always say, “Summer is the reason people in Minnesota put up with the winters”…and yes, Ingebretson’s is still on our radar…in fact we just had a “link” of Swedish sausage from there just a week ago…our last one in the freezer…we stock up when we go to Minnesota…and we still make lefse at Christmas time…as Ingebretson’s say, “Some things never change, Some things never should.” or something like that…with all the changing and frightening times, we hang on to those and many other traditions, some newer generations don’t understand, nor want to understand…so thanks again…Jim E

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