By Jim Larkin
For one week every summer about 70 families with two moms or two dads gather on Lake Michigan’s shoreline to frolic, make new friends, play games, march in a parade, strengthen family bonds and learn a valuable lesson.
“They see families like theirs and understand families are all alike,” said Linda Campbell, president of Rainbow Families Great Lakes, which holds the annual Family Week in Douglas and Saugatuck. “By the end of the week, everyone is sad to go.”
This year, Family Week begins July 9. Scheduled events include a Sunset Social at Oval Beach, a Kalamazoo River Family Adventure, an adults vs. kids scavenger hunt in downtown Douglas, a pancake breakfast, a family hike at Mt. Baldhead and Saugatuck Dunes, bowling night, beach time, music in the park, and the annual Family Week Celebration Parade in Douglas, which Campbell describes as a “teeny, tiny version of the Gay Pride Parade.”
There also will be time set aside to enjoy some of the local family fun spots, such as Craig’s Cruisers in Holland, Express Yourself Art Barn or the popular chain ferry along the Kalamazoo River.
“We’re developing a really strong program for the content and structure,” said Becky Carten-Crandell, an organizing committee member who has been going to the event since the Family Pride Coalition 15 started it years ago. “I think it’s important for kids to be in surroundings similar to their own.”
But it’s far from a gay-only event. Campbell points out that most the children are straight, and straight aunts, uncles and grandparents attend, as well as gay allies.
It’s an event both Campbell and Carten-Crandell said their children look forward to every year, so they can renew friendships and start new ones. Both have two children.
“They really like it. They love to go to the beach and spend time in Douglas and Saugatuck and have a lot of friends that go,” Campbell said.
Carten-Crandell added, “For us board members, we’re volunteers, so we’re very busy. The kids experience it on the level of a vacation.”
About Family Week
* Family Week begins July 9. Go to http://www.rfgl.org to find a schedule of events and an online registration form.
* Registration is $275 per family or $80 a day.
* Many lodging alternatives are available in the Saugatuck area and nearby Holland; check out hotwire.com, priceline.com or http://www.rfgl.org.