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You can sleep in a treehouse or a yurt at a new campground coming to Ottawa County

The project is all thanks to a multi-million dollar donation.

Have you ever wanted to sleep in a yurt? What about a treehouse? Well, an exciting new project is bringing both of those opportunities right here to West Michigan thanks to a multi-million dollar donation.

"As we were doing the master plan and getting public input, we really felt like this was a good fit for this site," said Jason Shamblin, Director of Ottawa County Parks and Recreation. 

That good fit? The Ottawa Sands County Park. It's a 345-acre property that sits between green space owned by the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg and North Ottawa Dunes. The site had long been used for sand mining, but is now part of the Ottawa County Parks. The park has forested dunes, an 80-acre inland lake and riverfront land with wetlands.

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation has had a vision for this property for years, and now it will be home to the Idema Explorers Camp.

"We'll be restoring around or enhancing over 30% of the site and developing only 8%," said Shamblin, "so more than 92% of the site will stay undeveloped."

The project is all thanks to a $2.5 million donation from the Bill and Bea Idema Foundation, which was also very excited about the plans for overnight stays.

"When they heard about the overnight and outfitted camping opportunities, specifically with the yurts and the treehouses," said Shamblin, "they became really excited about it."

"These types of private contributions and grants allow us to stretch our millage dollars even further to protect and conserve our natural spaces," he added.

The Idema Explorers Camp will have a Tree House Village and a Yurt Village. The campground would be located in a hidden bowl along the Grand River, and is planned to be accessible by bike and kayak.

"We heard over and over that people wanted an overnight opportunity along the Grand River Greenway for paddlers and hikers," said Shamblin. "The project will also improve pedestrian access, and provide a universally-accessible kayak launch to the public." 

A full list of plans for the Idema Explorers Camp include:

  • Tent pads
  • Yurt Village
  • Tent Village
  • Entry drive
  • Idema Explorers Trail extension
  • Utilities
  • Non-motorized universally-accessible kayak launch
  • Welcome Center

Shamblin said that right now, the cost for the overnight stays hasn't been decided, but they plan to look at other similar experiences for input.

"This type of outfitted camping with yurts and treehouses certainly will be the first of its kind in West Michigan," Shamblin said.

He added that the construction and restorations are expected to start as early as this coming fall.

You can learn more about the project and the Ottawa Sands Master Plan by clicking here.

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