Good Neighbors Add Allure to Summit Lake Wisconsin

Summit LakeWe used to be the only cabin on our side of the lake and I liked it that way, but when people built cottages next door, I discovered Summit Lake’s beauty magnifies when shared.

In 1952 my grandparents bought the log lodge peeking out from behind the pines on the point across from the island. They turned it into Camp Ney-A-Ti Boys’ Camp. The camp used to be the only sign of civilization on the western side of the lake.

In 1964, when my grandparents sold the camp and 40 acres, they had the foresight to save a 125 feet of lake front property on the far edge of their land. Then they built our little red cabin. On some else’s land. They were shocked to find out someone else owned that lot, so they lifted the wooden cottage and moved it over 50 feet.Summit Lake cabin

That landowner build a cottage on his land and generations later, we became friends with his grandchildren’s children. Then our children grew up together over lazy, fun-filled summers. The path through the woods between our cabins remains well worn. Instead of playing hide and seek of childhood, the “kids” sit on the screened in porch debating solutions to problems of the adult world.

We are the only flatlanders (Illinoisans) amongst the Wisconsinites; they accept us as long as we wear our Greenbay Packer caps.

A deputy sheriff lives on one side of us and a lawyer on the other. If we get in trouble with the lawman on our left, we could seek counsel with our neighbor on the right side to bail us out. But as grandchildren of Coach Mac, we would never consider breaking the rules.

Surprisingly, as much as I liked the idea of being alone in the woods, I discovered it is nice to have neighbors.

We hail from different cities and walks of life, but Up North no one cares where you come from or how much money you make, as long as you share the same values – respect for nature and community spirit.

kids of the lakeThe lake ‘hood children have grown up becoming doctors, nurses, plumbers, firemen and teachers. If the “kids” were ever Up North at that same time, we would have a “cabin” town of skilled professionals to cope with any illness, injury, wildfire, flooded basement, or backed up toilet.

With trees and foliage growing so thick, you don’t have to see your neighbors, who are never nosey, but if you do need anything they will be there.

At one time or other everyone has rescued my Frenchman when his catamaran capsized. All the neighbors have a story to tell about how they towed the yellow sailboat safely to shore behind their pontoon sailing Summit Lakeboat.sailing Summit Lake

Another time a neighbor helped jump-start my sister’s car at dawn in the dead of winter. And if you need to borrow a chainsaw, a shovel or a cup of sugar, just ask. Neighbors willingly share, sometimes even offering beds in their cabin when your own overflows with friends and relatives.

“You know the rule,” the guy next door says, “if my boat is out, and you want to ride or ski c’mon on over.”touring Summit Lake

Summer folks. Summer friends. Good neighbors. Good people.

Along with the wilderness and wildlife, human beings are part of the Northwood’s blessings too.Grandparents & kids


  1. Kathleen Pooler

    Pat, you have captured the lake experience so well. I miss our family cottage like it was a family member.— the campfires, the water games, the relaxing hangout times on the dock. The memories are seared in my mind and heart. Your post took me right back there. And we too had wonderful neighbors. One summer we witnessed the wedding of one of the children. A boat load of bridesmaids in their maroon gowns and the bride came from the other side of the lake to make a grand entrance on the dock!

    1. Pat McKinzie

      Kathy, I love your image of missing your cottage as if it were a family member. That is so true. Like a patriarch, our cabin passed down for generations brings us together every summer to create cherished memories that last a lifetime. I have often thought it would be a beautiful setting for a wedding and I can just image your neighbor’s marriage ceremony on the dock.

    1. Pat McKinzie

      I know you share our love of this special spot and it sounds like your place is beautiful too.

  2. Debbie

    You know, I never heard the term “flatlanders” before — that must be a Wisconsin-thing! I remember as a child going for about a ten-day vacation at one of Wisconsin’s many lakes. No TV, no phone, none of our friends from home. Still, we had a blast, caught buckets of fish, and even brought home a sunburn. Wish I could remember where we were because I’d love to return. This is a lovely post, Pat — I can hear how much you enjoyed it!

    1. Pat McKinzie

      Part of the joy in escaping to Wisconsin is getting away from it all. Let me know if you remember the place you stayed. Who knows it might be near us?

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