Peace In A Tin Can

Peace In A Tin Can

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cedar Bend Farm: Good Place, Good People, and Good Times

It can be tough to plan the perfect weekend for your daughter's 13th birthday, especially when she is inviting her four best friends along and you are on a budget.

We tossed around ideas like a concert or musical.  Maybe a Spa?  The indoor waterpark had already been done by another girl.  I turned to my best resource, Pure Michigan, and using the search function, found the most perfect place I could have imagined, Cedar Bend Farm.

I arrived in Mancelona, Michigan ahead of my husband and the 5 young teenage girls to set everything up for the weekend.  The owners of Cedar Bend Farm, Dan and Alice, greeted me with a fire burning in the wood stove in the most delightful stone cottage.  Their welcome was as warm as the fire, and as Alice described the opportunities for fun and excitement, I was amazed at how much Cedar Bend has to offer!

Dan and Alice purchased the farm about 10 years ago, after making the decision to live a more faith and family-centered life with their seven children.  Originally established as a Christian Retreat Center, Dan and Alice continue that work while also exceeding their goal of providing a simple and wholesome setting for Corporate Retreats, Survival Weekends, Romantic Getaways, Family Reunions, Youth Camps, and any other idea guests can come up with, including a 13th Birthday Party.  They work to plan a stay tailored to each guest's needs and wants.  Dan and Alice will be as involved or as removed from guests' stay as asked.

Some of their annual groups include the Freshman class from Spring Arbor University, for a Christian Retreat.  There are groups that come as missionaries to donate time and work toward renovations at the farm.  Through fundraising, Dan and Alice welcome children each summer to the Dollar-A-Day Outdoor Camp.  Alice told me that nothing makes her happier than to see kids discover the outdoors and learn how to run, laugh, and play in nature.

For our weekend, Dan and Alice made many suggestions and helped me plan the event to keep the girls happy.  When the girls arrived Friday evening, Alice joined us in our lovely cottage to teach them how to hand-churn their own ice cream.  They got an idea of how hard life used to be when they had to sit on top of the handle while churning, because they weren't strong enough to hold the lid down.
We later served the ice cream with birthday cake, agreeing it was the best ice cream we ever tasted!

The next morning began early as Dan took my husband out to the woods to train him in the use of the zip line and challenge course.  The girls walked down the lane, past the chapel, and into the woods to begin their adventure.  The temperature dropped, the snow blew in, and we spent the entire day outdoors with the girls on the zip line - on which they amazed Dan by going three different times! - and testing their strength, balance, and agility on the challenge course, not realizing that they were learning how to work together to accomplish a common goal.  My daughter and her friends wandered throughout the 112 acres looking for items in the scavenger hunt, then used the tubes Dan had prepared for them to race down the hills, over and over again.  At night, they ran to the barn to play hockey and football.

They never stopped moving and running and playing, outdoors, from sun up until way past sun down.  We all slept very well.

Some parents think I'm some kind of event planning guru, but the fact is I can find any place in Michigan to suit any need simply by entering a few keywords into the Pure Michigan website.  Using tags like "nature",  "Northern Michigan", "outdoor activities", and "crafts", I found Cedar Bend Farm, and created an affordable and fun weekend for the girls.  It was easy!

If you are looking for TV, Saunas, Gourmet Meals, and luxury accommodations, look elsewhere.  But if you are looking for rustic charm with basic amenities, a peaceful setting or outdoor adventures, and excellent hosts, look at Cedar Bend Farm.  Dan and Alice are good people who work hard to give you the best experience you seek.  They discourage excessive drinking and brazen behavior, but if you seek a quiet weekend with a loved one, Alice won't mind if you bring a bottle of wine.  Don't plan on watching the Red Wings game on TV, but be prepared to play a round or two of broom ball on the frozen floor of the new barn.  Anyone looking for a quiet weekend with family or friends in the summer, or an opportunity to hone your survival skills during a cold winter, or an outdoor adventure for the less adventurous, or a corporate outing,  Cedar Bend Farm is an affordable place with flexible hosts who will go out of their way to make your time on their farm exactly what you want it to be.

For more information, or to schedule your perfect getaway, call Alice at (231) 587-8126.  Or visit the website,