Photos courtesy of // Mark Lemon
Jennifer Tremaine’s experience growing up on Lake Fenton’s Case’s Island played a large part in her life. The 13-acre island has 30 homes, most of them summer cottages built in the early 1900s without furnaces or insulation. The Tremaine family lived in one of the few year-round homes on the island until Jennifer was 16.
“People think I’m kidding. When you live on an island, you have to use a boat whether it’s rain, snow or shine,” she says. “I took a canoe to get to the school bus stop every day.”
Jennifer says that when she was raising Wyatt, “my parenting philosophy was to look for game-changers that would have a positive impact on his life. When Wyatt was 14, I told him, ‘You’re going to live my old life for 30 days.’ We packed up and moved to the island for a month.”
According to Wyatt, the move was a game-changer. “It definitely gave me a perspective on the things we take for granted,” he says. “First, you have to bring everything with you. You have to recycle, and haul everything out and back. It made me aware of the importance of recycling. With something as simple as ordering pizza, you have to go to the mainland. Even though it was summer, everything was harder to do on an island.”
For example, Wyatt loved to play World of Warcraft during his summers. But not on the island. Instead, he found a new interest in puzzles and playing cards with his mom.
“The Wi-Fi was so weak that you had to sit outside on the porch to use it,” he says with a chuckle. “And there were mosquitoes and other wildlife – one time a big fat raccoon went under my legs as he walked by, his fur brushing up against my ankles.”
But Wyatt says he also found a new sense of independence that month. Although he had ridden on boats, Jet Skis and four-wheelers, someone else had always been in charge. He had been a passenger. By the end of the month, he had learned how to tie up a boat, refuel and check the oil on any machine.
These were small victories, but they were part of Jennifer’s game-changer plan. By the end of the summer, her boy had become an independent young man.
Although the Tremaine family ultimately sold the Case’s Island property, they didn’t forget it. The ownership has changed twice since then, and both times Jennifer has found children of island residents to become the new owners. Because of their connection to the island, Jennifer and Wyatt have a standing invitation to stop by their family home on Lake Fenton anytime.