In Defense of Bjorklunden

Stacey Day

Let me start by assuaging your fears: I am not a nature-writer, and I will not try to be. Even as a filthy hippie who loves the writing of Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, Thoreau, Emerson, etc., I can concede there are few things more trying than bad nature-writing.

That being said, I wish a competent writer would undertake to write “A Björklunden Almanac, or Life in the North Woods.” See what I did there?

Even if such a book were to be written, Björklunden is something that needs to be experienced to be believed. Björklunden is not simply about the nature, but about the Lawrence community temporarily redefining its relationship with nature.

It’s about reduced dependence on technology, being present in a new way and opening oneself up not only to new landscapes but to new relationships. For more on this last one, see me rant at 6:30 a.m. in the morning in the Björklunden “This Is Lawrence” video online. I’m clearly an authority, because I’m being interviewed about it.

But then again, from a different perspective, Björklunden is less about the natural setting and more about immersive academic experiences, whether geologic, lingual or musical. And again, Björklunden can simply be about escape, refuge, decompression and spiritual productivity counterbalancing the academic monomania of the Lawrence work-week.

For clubs and organizations, Björklunden is about bonding, networking and strategizing. For some, I’m sure Björklunden is mostly about the food.

But why bother writing to the student body about our second campus? One would hope that no Lawrence student by Spring Term needs to be told about the incredible shore-side trails, the cedar needle carpeted forest floors, the gorgeous sunrises over the lake that color the Great Room with pinks and reds and bronzes — stopping now, apologies.

Unfortunately, we all know that many students, even many among the cultured readership of **The Lawrentian**, have not yet availed themselves of an opportunity of visit Björklunden, or even more heinously, have been denied any chances to visit.

I’d like to address this issue on both sides; I will criticize the entire student body for letting this amazing place go unvisited during their time at Lawrence, and then will address the many problems with student access to Björklunden.

I have several times encountered seniors who have never visited Björklunden and, to my great surprise, seem unfazed by this fact. I know many people who have gone entire years, let alone terms, without visiting Björklunden, and by choice.

There is a big party happening that weekend, and you can’t party at Böjrk, you have too much homework to do, you don’t have any friends that are going. To the first — really?!? To the second — don’t we all? Come on. To the third — you make friends there; that’s half the point. And if you don’t, you can make friends with yourself for a weekend, something many of us , myself included, need to do from time to time.

That dispensed with, even for one already sold on Björklunden, it can be next to impossible to find a way to get to there on a weekend that actually works for you — performances, appointments out of town, etc., can obviously also deter students.

Student groups have to register far in advance to obtain spots, yet there are some weekends where Björklunden is less than half full.

Speaking of which, the process by which a group applies to attend Björklunden is arcane, available to those who search online, but why are there so many hoops? While the last word in the instructions online is admittedly “Relax!”, there are seven steps prior to that, the most arduous being getting approval from Amy Uecke or Nancy Truesdale before even submitting your application.

The difference functionally between a group of friends going to Björklunden and any given frat or social organization going to Björklunden is minimal, if crowd control is the reason for all these hoops. Student attendance is why we spent however many dollars expanding the lodge in the nineties, right? Administration, this is money going to waste!

The absurdly long term deadlines for applying to visit plus all these bureaucratic obstacles effectively prohibit the attendance of students uninvolved with extremely organized extracurricular clubs or without teachers requiring a weekend at Björklunden.

Even if a student finds their way into a trip to Björklunden, the opportunities are sparse and dates might not always work out.

Administration, decide whether or not you actually want students to get to enjoy Björklunden, and drop the farce that it is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezie to find a way there for a weekend.

Professors, bring your classes there to relish in your subject — but don’t overschedule them. It’s too magical a place to waste all your time indoors!

Students, seize all the — admittedly rare — opportunities you can to visit, and don’t talk yourself out of a life-altering experience with lame excuses. Really, folks, Björk is too special to suffer the under-attendance that it does.

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