1920x1080 photo of a group of kids sitting by the edge of a lake on a warm summer day

Meet Me at the Lake: A Timeless Tradition

For many of us, heading Up North is a way of life—a tradition carried down from generation to generation. Families from all over travel to their favorite vacation place year-after-year to make memories. It’s so engrained in us that Up North is more than a direction; it’s a state of mind. These summer vacations shape who we are, and for some, it changes their lives. We have a rich history as a vacation destination; you’ll find hundreds of stories of families making timeless memories at the lake.

Quinn Carlson and Kevin Stull

Bay View Lodge

It was 1975 when Quinn Carlson and Kevin Stull met. Not that they remember; they were just infants. Their parents Larry and Linda Stull and Dave and Jill Carlson had already been coming to Bay View Lodge the same week (on Rush Lake, which is part of the Whitefish Chain of Lakes in Crosslake, MN) for decades and were friends. “Bay View provided the opportunity for us to grow up together, if only for a week a year,” Kevin affectionately said.

Each year when Quinn and Kevin saw each other, it was like no time had passed. They picked up where the previous year left off and enjoyed the resort camaraderie: volleyball games, swimming, tubing, campfires, and potlucks. Kids and adults of all ages would hang out at the campfire, sometimes until the sun came up.

As Quinn and Kevin got a little older, they became each other’s summer crush. “She was the only girl my age who wasn’t family, and she made me nervous. She was beautiful and intimidating. We would play volleyball after dinner, and she was really good,” Kevin amuses. “Kevin is a good storyteller and has the type of personality that attracts people to him. I had a crush on him when I was 15 and he was 16,” Quinn remembers. “It started off for the week we were at Bay View and grew from there.”

Knowing each other’s families and growing up together made it feel natural.

The years passed and Kevin and Quinn went off to college. They stayed in touch through their Bay View connection. It after one of their phone calls that Quinn decided to move back to Minnesota to be closer to Kevin. Quinn graduated college December [right before Christmas], and their first date was Christmas Day (night) in 1998.” Quinn and Kevin were engaged in 2001 and married in 2003. Now, they continue their tradition of spending a week at Bay View Resort with their two children and their extended families.

Monica Bieter and Family

Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge

Monica Bieter knows tradition. She has been coming to Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge for 75 years consecutively. She’s their longest returning guest. Though how her family first discovered Ruttger’s was a coincidence—and a bit out of desperation.

In 1944, Cy and Ann Michael loaded their two daughters, Monica and Nancy, in the car for an Up North vacation. Back then, it was a 4-hour drive from St. Paul on one lane roads—some of which were dirt. The cabin was in disrepair, and the lake was full of weeds. Not wanting to stay in this crummy cabin, they drove around to see if they could find something else. They pulled into Ruttger’s and thought, “hey, this looks nice.” Monica’s dad headed into the main lodge to see about renting a cabin. Everyone was eager about the prospect of staying there instead. “My dad could always make everything work; he could always fix everything. I was shocked—shocked—when he couldn’t get us in! [But] He made a reservation for us the next year [1945],” Monica remembers. “And then we came forever.”

Monica’s aunts and uncles were soon joining her family on these summer vacations. She remembers her dad and uncles loved golf. “They would play 9 [holes] in the morning, have lunch, then play 9 again in the afternoon,” Monica reminisces.

They also celebrated a lot of momentous occasions at the resort. When Monica married Dr. Thomas Bieter, they honeymooned at Ruttger’s. Her sister did, too, which happened to overlap with the week that Monica always vacationed there with her 4 children. Monica recalls how the dining room hostess, Lucia, said, “Well I’ve seen honeymoons where the mother-in-law shows up, but I’ve never seen a honeymoon here where the sister and all her kids were there.”

Monica’s kids fondly remember spending two weeks every summer at the lake in the 70s and all the activities the resort offered: the talent show, horseback riding, square dancing, and bingo. Jack Ruttger (whose grandparents started Ruttger’s) would emcee a waterski show. And it was common for guests to dress up for dinner each night.

In July 2015 for Monica’s 75th birthday, the whole family (her children, grandchildren, and great granddaughter) celebrated at the resort with a 70s themed party. They gathered around a tree planted in Monica’s honor outside of cabin 625 (formerly cabin 25) that she and her family rented year-after-year. A plaque commemorates Monica as the longest returning guest.

Maren Syverson Barone and Family

Breezy Point Resort (photo courtesy BlazeAir)

When Maren Syverson Barone was a kid, she vacationed with her parents and siblings near her mother’s hometown of Detroit Lakes. But as Kenneth and Ingeborg’s 6 children grew into adulthood, they moved the family vacations around the Midwest as some Maren’s siblings moved out-of-state—trying to find somewhere halfway for everyone. Eventually all of Maren’s siblings moved back to their Minnesota roots. It was time to bring the family vacations back to Minnesota, too. They chose Breezy Point Resort for the easy drive north and its amenities. Breezy Point made a lasting impression because that first visit was 29 years ago. They’ve been coming back the same week in July ever since.

When the Syverson family first came to Breezy Point, they rented six rooms. Maren recalls how all the young kids loved it. “My dad would spend hours hooking worms and unhooking sunnies [for his grandkids]”, she recalls. The Lodge Apartments gave them direct access to Pelican Lake, plus a grassy area between the rentals and the beach to play yard games. “We always have a come and go breakfast starting at 7:00 a.m. in my room that often lasts until lunch. It’s a great time to catch up with everyone’s daily activities [of which there are many],” said Maren. “There’s shopping in NisswaPequot LakesCrosslake, and Brainerd/Baxter. There’s Pirate’s Cove & Billy Bones Raceway. And there’s a lot of golf. We rent bicycles and bike the Paul Bunyan Trail. On rainy days, we take in a movie or the waterpark at the Three Bear Waterpark at the Holiday Inn Express.”

Maren and her siblings carry on the tradition that their parents started. And their family continues to grow. This year there will be 17 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren and even one great-great grandchild (on the way). In July, they’ll fill 19 rooms and have a total of 65 people counting spouses. Family comes from Minnesota, Texas, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, Canada. For the Syverson family, Breezy Point provides the perfect backdrop to come together and celebrate family.

Make the Brainerd Lakes Area part of your family traditions.

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