Just when winter turns to spring, Jeff Perkins, Mary Stockton and their children are ready to come to Lakeside for the summer.
Scott, the eldest son, first experienced Lakeside at 3 years old, and his younger sister, Elizabeth, at just 3 weeks old.
Henry, the youngest in the family, has also come to Lakeside every summer since birth.
His favorite thing about Lakeside Chautauqua is being with friends.
“Henry has developed some friendships that I think will be lifelong friendships,” said Mary. “It’s a big reunion for him every summer.”
Elizabeth, now a teenager, describes a typical day at Lakeside for their family.
“We wake up, go swimming, eat lunch, go swimming or sailing, play tennis and go swimming again,” she said. “Then, we eat dinner, get ice cream and go to the Hoover show.”
Middle Grade Madness (MGM) is another part of Elizabeth and Henry’s daily routine.
In recent years, the two have made the transition from attending God Squad to MGM.
Also in their younger years, the children enjoyed Lakeside’s educational opportunities, such as Where in the World and the Junior Naturalist Program.
“They are great programs,” said Mary.
Scott also mentioned the tradition of having meals with other Lakeside families who they have become close with over the years, including Chip and Colleen Wendt and their three children.
This summer, Scott has participated in the Sunset Praise Service, one of Lakeside’s Sunday worship services. He helped lead the service by singing and playing the guitar.
In fact, the entire family has musical talent. They all play ukulele and piano and enjoy playing music together in the evenings.
Henry also plays the fiddle and participates in competitions throughout the year.
Naturally, their favorite Hoover shows are musical performances, and magic shows are another family favorite.
Apart from religious and arts programming, the family also has strong traditions of attending all the major recreational events at Lakeside.
Each year, they participate in the 5k Raccoon Run, Team Triathlon, Youth Triathlon, Mouse Island Sailing Race and the Lakeside Sailing Regatta.
The lake is a significant part of the family’s Lakeside experiences.
All three children learned to sail by participating in the Kids Setting Sail program.
Elizabeth went on her first sailboat ride with Bill Maenner, who co-founded the program and has been the coordinator for 12 years.
“The program has become so successful,” said Jeff.
Mary added, “Elizabeth has gone on to do everything she can in the sailing program.”
Scott mentioned sailing as his favorite thing about Lakeside, and something the family only gets the opportunity to do at Lakeside.
“The lake is an incredible natural resource,” said Mary. “We’re grateful because it is one more way they can interact with and love nature.”
While swimming in the lake, the siblings often find treasures, such as Frisbees, towels, coins and sunglasses.
With their diving experience, they once recovered a man’s wedding ring after he announced that it had fallen into the lake.
Elizabeth, inspired by the event, wrote a poem about the experience for the Lakeside Writing Project, a collection of Lakesiders’ writings based on a yearly theme that becomes a publication.
Sparked by her love for books and reading, Elizabeth also began volunteering at The Fine Print bookstore this year.
Elizabeth loves the Fourth of July. Every Fourth of July, the family has a water balloon toss in their front yard with the Wendt family and any other Lakesiders who happen to pass by and want to join.
Started by the Wendt family and continued together, the families also have a tradition of passing out bananas during the Fourth of July Float Parade.
Prior to 2012, Jeff, Mary and their children stayed at Mary’s parents’ cottage for several weeks in the summer.
Now, the family has their own cottage right next door to Mary’s parents’ home.
Thanks to Jeff, the family will have a record of every Lakeside summer in the form of a large, coffee table photobook.
Their dad takes thousands of photos of their family and friends in Lakeside, and then creates a photobook to chronicle the summer.
“It’s always a competition and a mystery to see who gets featured on the front,” said Jeff.
Jeff and Mary also described the uniqueness of Lakeside.
“When you bring friends here, you don’t have to do a lot of planning because there’s so much to do,” said Jeff. “When you think, ‘What should we do today,’ you have 10 choices immediately,”
“And choices for every age,” Elizabeth added.
Mary said, “Lakeside is a place set apart from certain aspects of society, such as the pace of society for families with kids the ages of ours. The lifestyle here is definitely something worth preserving.”
Although the family spends most of their time outdoors or participating in the programming, they love to relax and read on the front porch of their new cottage.
Scott also had an insightful reason to appreciate having a family home in Lakeside.
“This means in the future, as our family continues to grow, we can all be here together,” he said. “The most exciting part is looking towards the future and knowing Lakeside is something we want to be a part of for a very long time and something we value a lot.”
Lakeside Chautauqua invites all to consider giving a gift to the Lakeside Fund or volunteering at Lakeside in order for growing families to continue benefitting from Chautauqua programming.
For more information, visit www. lakesideohio.com/giving or call the Lakeside Chautauqua Foundation Office at (419) 798-5396.
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