Summer Course

Back in my twenties, I spent two summers working at a backpacking camp in Montana. Tucked in a narrow mountain valley just north of Yellowstone, the camp specialized in the kind of fresh-air, commune-with-God-and-nature experiences that most teenagers—the camp’s main constituents—generally dread. Each week brought a new busload of kids, most of whom had little interest in conifers or creeds, and each week we counselors tried to lead them in singing hymns and climbing switchbacks. With God, we reminded them, all things are possible, right?

My favorite part was the hiking. Before each trip, I’d gather the brood of sullen youngsters assigned to my cabin around a map, usually a U.S. Geological Survey topographic filled with squiggles, grids, and assorted coffee stains. I’d trace the route of our journey and offer an incantation of sorts, reading aloud the names of the sights and formations we’d see along the way: Silver Lake, Pyramid Mountain, Charlie’s Cabin, Meat Rack Meadow. (The origins of that last name were always a mystery to me, but it did sound delightfully sinister.) As my words conjured up images of each landmark, I could see a dim light begin to flicker in the dark eyes of my bored charges. This was a trip of possibilities, a path of potential adventures and surprises.

The magazine you hold in your hands is Minnesota Monthly’s map to summer 2011, a season of countless possibilities and happy adventures. The cover story, on page 54, lists more than 75 things that you should see, do, or eat as you journey through Minnesota’s shortest season: join a CSA, rent a cruiser, catch a concert in a park, raise a glass in a beer garden, dine al fresco on a farm, attend a festival devoted entirely to garlic. Arranged by theme—water, kids, food and drink, urban adventures, and outdoor fun—and labeled by date, these items are summer’s highlights and hidden gems. Meander if you will, and don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers at the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market. But as I used to counsel my campers: Don’t dally. The sunlight, as any mountaineer or longtime Minnesotan knows, can vanish all too quickly.

Joel Hoekstra, Editor


Minneapolis writer Erin Peterson, who compiled much of this month’s cover story on summer activities in Minnesota (see page 54), likes to spend her summers running around Lake Calhoun, celebrating happy hours on restaurant rooftops, and watching the Twins from nosebleed seats at Target Field. She has contributed to Runner’s World, Yoga Journal, and Kiplinger’s, among other publications.

Phil Wrigglesworth, whose drawings appear in our cover story (see page 54), is an English illustrator living in London. When he isn’t teaching illustration at the University of West England or drawing, Wrigglesworth loves playing cricket and football, and cheering for Burnley FC, “the greatest football team in the world.” His work has been used for professional briefs for the last 10 years.

Jenn Ackerman  and Tim Gruber, whose work appears in Insider (see page 19) recently moved to Minneapolis from the East Coast and are thrilled to have survived their first Minnesota winter. They have worked together since 2005 and recently won an Emmy for their documentary work. They have been published in the Communication Arts Photography Annual, PDN Photo Annual, and other publications.

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