Who cares about the Itch?

By Alan Marble - July 19, 2018

Who cares about the Itch? Everyone who loves our beautiful Crystal Lake!

CrystalswimSwimmer’s itch has dominated discussion around the CSA for several years. A natural phenomenon, it is an allergic rash reaction being mistaken for a host species by a nearly invisible parasite (cercaria), which has gone through its life cycle and is searching for yet a new host. One of the links in its life cycle in Crystal Lake is the common merganser, a fish-eating duck that thrives in the lake’s clear, cool water where its brood of ducklings find ample minnows and fry to sustain them.

Enough about the “itch.” What is being done about it? The Crystal Lake & Watershed Association (CLWA) has dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of dollars it has raised to research and combat the insidious “itch.” Employing a private sector company, Swimmer’s Itch Solutions, the CLWA has worked with public input to locate, trap and relocate broods of merganser ducklings under a permit from the Michigan Department Of Natural Resources (MI DNR). While the adult hens may very well find their way back to Crystal Lake in the subsequent spring, their ducklings “imprint” on their new location and should return there in following years to breed. Relocation settings are approved by the MI DNR, and are waters near enough to be practicable, but far enough to deter a duckling’s return. These settings lack one or more elements of the complicated lifestyle chain that perpetuates the “itch.” The trap-and-relocate program is in its second year through the CLWA. Click this link to report a common merganser nest or brood on Crystal Lake.

Some simple numbers…

In 2017, 14 broods of mergansers were captured and relocated. A total of 116 ducklings were relocated along with 10 hens. To date in 2018, 16 broods have been captured and relocated, totalling at least 105 ducklings and 7 hens (three broods relocated late this week included an unknown number of birds as of this writing). 

Scientific analysis of snail samples (a key element in the life cycle of the parasite that causes swimmer’s itch), in 2016 showed a ratio of infection in the snails of 1/100 sampled. The sample in 2018 showed a significant reduction, in which only 1 of every 350 snails sampled were infected.

The CSA has worked closely with the CLWA by recording statistics on the waterfront that reflect the number of swimmers each day (broken down by morning and afternoon); the incidence of rashes reported (similarly broken down); the wind direction and velocity, and water temperature. Leslie Ritter, CSA Waterfront Director, and her staff have done a remarkable job in documenting these factors on a daily basis for a period of 6 years.

Trying to compare apples to apples, some numbers from two years - 2016 pre-program and 2018 the second year of program.

  • 2016: 1,557 persons reported swimming 109 reported cases of rash/itch
  • 2018: 3,016 persons reported swimming 25 reported cases of rash/itch (from start of season through July 18)kidsCrystal

While this information is perhap a bit anecdotal, taken as a whole it shows that the efforts of the CLWA are working towards reducing the natural phenomenon of swimmer’s itch to an acceptable level. Leslie Ritter told me she was holding her breath when the 4th of July week began, and she was thrilled that the incidence of “itch” remained so low. Parents are letting their kids swim again, and today was a classic reminder of what a unique jewel we are in temporary custody of - Crystal Lake.

The CLWA is hard at work to preserve this resource for generations to come on many levels: the “itch,” the spread of invasive species, working with local units of government to protect sensitive habitats and limit non-point pollution, and so on. If you are not already a member, please join the CLWA to insure the lake’s qualities for generations to come. Come to the CLWA annual meeting this Saturday, July 21st, at the CSA Assembly Building beginning at 9:30 am. You will see many familiar faces, and you will help insure our mutual future.

Unsung Hero - Doug Fuller

By Beth Wolszon - July 7, 2018

Do you regularly interact with the CSA community on our Facebook page? Maybe you’re excited to see a cool CSA picture on Instagram. Or perhaps the calendar and white board photo on the CSA website, or the weekly “what’s happening” emails, help you plan your time at the lake. All of us who enjoy being able to engage digitally with our CSA community year-round owe a big thanks to Doug Fuller.

It’s been almost 15 summer seasons since Doug took leadership of what was initially the CSA Website Committee. Would you believe there was some controversy over the CSA even having a website in the 21st century? Doug provided balanced and thoughtful leadership to demonstrate that having a digital CSA presence would not diminish the traditions and enjoyment of being physically present at the CSA.

DougFullerDoug not only provided leadership for the committee, he did much of the technical work to create the initial site, with valuable assistance from Peter Buzzell. Doug did research to find the right platform to allow everyday users to create and manage a high-quality website without the experience of being a web developer. He toiled for countless months to give us a nice initial site, with very little investment.

Once the site was up, initial traffic was light due to the CSA’s requirement for a password to protect our privacy. But Doug was able to help CSA leaders get comfortable with fully opening the site, which put us on the path to where we are today, and where we can be tomorrow.

Doug worked diligently with our committees to get content onto the website and keep it current and up to date. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t perfect, because he was asking for more time from dedicated CSA volunteers with very busy lives. So, what to do?

He found a different path. He told the Board of Trustees we should focus our effort on the CSA Facebook page. He was right once again. Through Facebook, Doug was able to offer a forum for CSAers to interact year round. And the statistics he provided to the Board built confidence that the addition of digital media was good for our community. By then we were using YouTube and Twitter, with Instagram to come.

Just a few years ago, Doug recommended to the Board that we change our technical web platform from Word Press to Joomla, to give us more and better capabilities. Who did the bulk of the work to make the change? No surprise, it was Doug.

He demonstrated that he was a visionary leader when he recommended that the “Website” Committee be changed to the Communications Committee to better represent its evolved role. Doug understood that we needed to fit into the communication options being used every day by our community—both while here at Crystal Lake as well as wherever we are in the world.

With more parents working and busy families, fewer people can be here all summer. But they still want to feel a part of the community. They still want to engage with the community. And they want transparent communication about what is going on within our community and our governance.

Doug resigned from the Communications Committee when his wife, Sharon Elliott Fuller, was diagnosed with a serious illness. But he supported the successful trial of a communications intern in the summer of 2016. Holly Freeburg succeeded him as chair of the Communications Committee that summer. She was able to prove the value of the communications intern and expanded it in 2017 and 2018.

We lost both Doug and his wife Sharon in 2017, much too young and much too soon. It was a very difficult loss for their daughters Crissie and Kelsey, and their son Elliott. It was also a very real loss for our community. We honor his unsung service to help us maintain an energetic and engaged community far into the future.

There are any number of words to describe who Doug was: dedicated, hardworking, effective change leader, someone who thinks outside the box, friend, nature lover, nice guy. But he was also very much an unsung hero around the CSA and we could not think of a better person to kick off our new unsung heroes series than Doug, who will be missed terribly not only taking the stage during the operetta, but as someone who always had a kind word and advice.

If you would like to read more about Doug and his life, click on this link to his obituary.

And if you would like to write a piece about other unsung heroes at the CSA—both past and present—we would love to hear from you. Submit your story to the Communications Committee at . (It will be edited for content, spelling and grammar.)

CSA Traditions

By Julia Davis - August 19, 2016

As Tevye passionately states in the beloved musical, Fiddler on the Roof, “without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as…as a fiddler on the roof.” Here at the CSA, this is something we live by. As times change, our traditions come and go. Let’s take a look back at some CSA traditions of the past.

The Monday night children’s dances have seemingly gone on since anyone here at the CSA can remember. But when Jane Cooper was young, there would be social dances for thehigh school and college students after the children had cleared out on Monday nights. Music was played from a record player, and there were chaperones that would sit around the edges of the community room in the Assembly Building. Jane was there during some of the earliest days of rock and roll, so the music was still relatively traditional, and they would dance to songs like “Blue Moon” and “Stardust”. Square dancing on Wednesdays was another hugely popular tradition during that time. “Everybody knew how to square dance,” Jane recalled. “And you wouldn’t have thought of not going.” Just like in the film “Dirty Dancing” dancing was a major part of the social life at the Assembly in the 1950s, but faded out around the 1960s when it became less popular.

However, the teen dances had a resurgence in popularity in the 1970s through to the early 1990s.  In the 1970s when Holly Freeburg was a teenager, the dances were huge. She remembers hearing “Smoke on the Water” and everyone stomping on the floor so hard that it felt like the floor might open up and swallow all the revelers. Up through the early 1990s the teen dances continued to be an Assembly staple. Ginanne Brownell Mitic recalls a DJ out of Traverse City –who went by the moniker Moby Disk – playing all the 1980s hits, including “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by The Police and “You Spin Me” by Dead or Alive. Teens from the CSA and the surrounding community would come to these dances, so it was a great time to make new friends and spend time with old ones.

Another tradition Ginanne remembers from growing up in the 1980s was the “Come as You Are” pajama parties, where the youth activity leaders and volunteers would surprise kids early in the morning, dragging them out of bed to go for breakfast at one of the beaches or in the Assembly building. The youth leaders would call the parents the night before to make sure their kid wore something appropriate to bed, but Ginanne recalls one time when one boy’s parents either forgot to tell their son or couldn’t convince him to wear pajamas to bed, which caused major embarrassment when all the kids showed up to pick him up the next morning and he wasn’t wearing anything. “They were fun because of the element of surprise…that you knew it might happen in the summer but were never sure which day,” Ginanne recalled. Another traditional youth activity from further back in time was going hiking on “The Crater”, a large, sandy, bowl-shaped area on the top of a dune overlooking Crystal Lake. Kids would pack a meal and then trek out to the Crater to eat and play games like Capture the Flag. There also used to be overnight hikes for middle school to high school students, led by the youth leaders. They would hike near Point Betsie, or even go as far as South Manitou Island to camp. Jane remembers bringing an army-style blanket roll for these overnight trips instead of a sleeping bag.

On the ball field, the bachelors vs. married men softball game that we’re used to having as part of the Fourth of July festivities used to be a weekly event. Another ball field event Doug Fuller recalls was the annual Mallory vs. Clemens family football game. There were many additional rules to the game, aside from the basic set. The most important rule was that the game had to end in a tie. Doug remembers seeing one team dancing with each other on the field while they were in the lead in order to let the other team score a touchdown and thereby even out the score.

The typical day-to-day CSA uniform are comfy shorts, a t-shirt, and very sandy flip-flops, but back in the day church wasn’t the only thing people dressed up for. The Women’s Association used to host traditional bridge games, for which formal attire was a must. The women had to wear white gloves and dresses, and they would have proper tea served on a silver tea service. And on Sundays, nobody used to swim after church. Instead, people remained in their formal church attire and would usually go to Sunday dinner at the Dining Hall (now known as the Assembly Building). 

Our traditions are what keep us coming back to the CSA year after year. It’s comforting knowing that next summer, people will be sitting at the beach in the same spot they always sit, that there will be potluck dinners, operettas, and old friends.

The Women's Association: Past and Present

By Julia Davis - July 21, 2016


The Women’s Association has been a staple of the CSA for over a century and has been running the art fair since its inception 38 summers ago. But times have changed with many women (all CSA female members are automatically members of the Women’s Association) no longer able to be at the Assembly for the entire summer nor able to commit to taking a board position within the group. Recent bylaw changes have transformed the organization into one that solely funds events rather than hosts them. I talked to Susan Baker and Sandra O’Neal, the current co-chairs of the Women’s Association, about the challenges the Women’s Association faces, how they fill leadership positions and their favorite anecdote from their time serving the Women’s Association board.


What is the history of the women’s association and why was it founded?

Sandra O’Neal (SO): I do not know why it was founded, but at that time it was very common for women in church groups to gather together for the purpose of both social activities and volunteering.


All women who are members of the CSA are automatically members yet it seems like many women do not know this and are surprised when they are told this is the case.

Susan Baker (SB): It doesn’t matter how many times you say something; it doesn’t necessarily sink in until you’re ready to hear it. It started as a social group, a service group, a way for women to get to know each other. As women’s lives have changed and families’ lives have changed, that has also changed. A few years ago, there was a bylaw change for the Women’s Association. Now there are a few things that the Women’s Association specifically does and the art fair is the biggest one and essentially our reason for being. The wonderful traditional things the Women’s Association has done for decades, like Lemonade Sundays, art workshops, and programs for children are now done on an ad hoc basis. If you’re interested in having something done, you approach the Women’s Association by filling out an application on the website, asking for funding, coming up with your idea of how this could happen.


So it’s primarily an organization for ad hoc funding.

SB: Yes and that also opens the door for new and wonderful ideas to come forth such as the Ecology Fun program.


I know you give a lot to Ecology Fun, but where else does the raised money go?

SO: We fund four specific categories: donations to charities in the community, scholarships, one- time projects like the butterfly garden, the defibrillators and pickle ball equipment, and on an annual basis programs including potluck dinners. See the full list here.


How important is the art fair and Cottage tresaures to the Women’s Association?

SB: It’s one of the biggest community events the CSA does. I love the fact that so many of us have things in our cottages that came from probably 10 other families in the CSA because of Cottage Treasures. And the fact that if you have somebody come over for dinner, there’s a fair chance that when you put that serving bowl on the table, somebody’s going to say, “You know, that’s my aunt Molly’s!”


How do you foresee the Association’s future?

SO: We are at a point where we need to ask questions about the ongoing viability of the Women’s Association. Not the ongoing viability of the Arts and Crafts fair, which can keep going on run by a committee of the Trustees. But the Women’s Association for the last decade has had more and more difficulty getting women to commit to serving on the board and considerable difficulty getting leadership positions filled. This is Susan and my last year as chairs of the association and we have spoken to at least 60 women about taking on these roles and have been unsuccessful in finding anyone to do so. That alone is not a reason for the association to dissolve but over time there’s simply been less and less interest. Our leadership team asked Beth Wolszon and Jennifer Daly, the past president and vice president of the Board of Trustees, to consult with us this year on the future of the Women’s Association.


Any fun Art fair anecdotes while you were co-chairs?

SO: I had to adjudicate a conflict at Cottage Treasures in which two men had bought the same canoe at separate cashier stations. They both went to pick up the canoe, and one picked up the stern and one picked up the bow and they both looked at each other and I was asked to sort this out. I said to the two men, “would a coin toss satisfy you?” And one of them produced a coin and flipped it and walked away with the canoe and we gave the other one their money back, but it was a great illustration of the fact that we have terrific values at the fair.

Ken Cox on Raccoons, Buoys and "South Pacific"


By Julia Davis - June 16, 2016

If the CSA has any living legends, then Ken Cox is certainly one of them. Even before becoming director 15 years ago, Ken was known around the CSA not only because he was the athletic director for over two decades but also because of his numerous roles in the operettas and directing the choir. A lifelong CSAer (he used to work as a college student at the now defunct gas station behind the Crystal View) on the off season Ken was a professional opera singer for 20 years. He now chairs the voice department and is the director of the opera theatre program at Colorado’s University of Denver. CSA communications intern Julia Davis spoke with him about getting the CSA ready for summer, chasing raccoons out of cottages at 2am and his most memorable operetta. Excerpts:

How do you get the CSA summer ready?

In February, I call the chairs or directors of the programs and we discuss employees for the summer. Contracts usually go out in early March to about 40 people. I’ll probably get the choir music together this weekend, and next week I’ll have a clean up party at the meeting house. I’ll probably have about a dozen people come out and help. Every summer it seems like people show up who don’t know somebody else and so they’ll start talking and figure out how their families go way back [and] it’s fun just listening to the conversations.

What do you think is the most difficult thing to do in the preseason?

In terms of hours and labor, getting all the buoys out for the sailboats and the motorboats, and getting the lifeline out. This year I’ve got a brand new volunteer - Jason Burt, one of our youngest trustees, and his dad, Jay. That’s a big job, working in the cold water out there, but they’re just going at it. The more people I can get involved helping at the assembly, the greater sense of community we have.

Is being the managing director a 24-hour job?

It is, but not working all the time. You have to be on call. Some summers ago, I got a call around 2am about a raccoon in a cottage. So, I went over there with my long-handled-fishing net. They had a dog that was barking and there was this poor little raccoon all curled up in the corner like, “please don’t eat me, dog.” I dimmed the lights and the raccoon started to relax and I tried to feed it a little bread. But it was pretty traumatized, so I very carefully helped it into the fishing net, opened one of the windows, put it out on the ground and it happily walked off into the woods.

How has the CSA changed over the years?

Some traditions we don’t do quite the same way anymore. For example, on the 4th of July we would have games on the ball field, which we still do, but then afterwards half of the field would be taken up with people sitting on their blankets and eating picnic lunches and just visiting with each other. Some of the activities have changed, some have disappeared, and we’ve got some new activities. I once [overheard] one young dad saying to another, “You know, there aren’t places like this anymore.” And I thought, “That’s exactly right.” The Assembly really is a place that time has forgotten.

Tell me a bit about your career as a singer.

I went to Wheaton College and was a voice major, but I was determined to not sing opera. I couldn’t believe that people wanted to be involved in opera because it was so archaic. I ended up winning the National Association of Teachers of Singing central regional auditions as a junior singer. People came up to me afterwards and they told me what a great operatic career I had in front of me, and I was like, “Oh no, opera.” But my voice teacher took me to an opera in Chicago, and I was mesmerized by the voice of the dramatic soprano. So when I did my Masters at Indiana University, I did a lot of opera. I went from the smaller regional U.S. companies to the larger houses in this country, and then to singing in Europe. I sang and travelled for 20 years. Cindy and I got to see the world.

Do any highlights from traveling the world come to mind?

Oh yeah, a lot of them. I sang in Sydney, Australia [in] a wonderful production of “The Return of Ulysses” by Claudio Monteverdi. It was right around New Years, and I remember being invited by the mayor to be his guest on the patio of the Sydney Opera House. There was the most amazing fireworks display I have ever seen.

Which operetta sticks out most to you?

I’d have to say the first time we did “South Pacific” in the early 1980s. Molly Sturges, a 15-year old at the time, showed up for the tryouts. She sang the song “I’m Gonna Wash That Gray Right Out of My Hair” because it was a commercial for Clairol hair coloring. We gave her the part because she was so good. I was directing the music and singing the lead. I used all of my friendships [to get people involved], so we had a great chorus. We had guys you would never normally see up on stage. We did two performances and every seat inside was taken; people were crammed in the pews, sitting on the windowsills and it was about five deep all the way around the outside with people looking in. That’s the one out of all the others that stands out for me.