A unique woodland campus is in session again along Lake Michigan, near Baileys Harbor, Wis., in southern Door County.
This season's topics include the Middle East, wild mushrooms of Door County, "what makes the French so … French," Wisconsin's Aldo Leopold's land ethic and the 1940s.
Some participants will study wine and music or work on their bridge game. And there is a family/grandparent week.
The 425-acre Bjorklunden estate was bequeathed to Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., by Donald and Winifred Boynton, of Highland Park, Ill. Public seminars started in 1980.
The 37,000-square-foot lodge provides a great room for gathering and mini concerts, a dining area, classrooms and 22 guest rooms. After a fire, the lodge was rebuilt and enlarged with ample decks and a computer room.
The Boyntons also had built a lovely chapel — a stavkirch — nearby. Their extensive art work graces the interior. The building may be toured from 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.
Formal mornings, fun afternoons
Bjorklunden seminars take place mostly in the mornings, and some evenings for videos. This allows time to "explore the Door," attend a concert, play or festival or watch a sunset from over Green Bay.
Seminar instructors "live in" so they can be available for further conversation over meals. The chef attends to special dietary needs and offers warm sweet breads for breaks.
One of the longest-running sessions at Bjorklunden is the Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camp. Fred Sturm, of Lawrence's faculty; Gene Bertoncini, former guitar player for the NBC Tonight Show band; pianist John Harmon and jazz "minister" Janet Planet are among the faculty. Dr. Christopher Jankowski, a Rochester physician and trumpet player in the Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, is a jazz camp regular.
Terry Moran, chief foreign correspondent for ABC News and "Nightline" co-anchor, has returned to the campus this month for a seminar on "The News From Abroad." David Maraniss, associate editor of the Washington Post, was at the lodge last year with playwright Eric Simonson. Maraniss focused on his book "They Marched Into Sunlight," about the Vietnam War and "the war at home" — demonstrations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The Rochester Public Library has an autographed copy because this writer borrowed the book before buying one. A television series is in the works for "They Marched Into Sunlight." And Maraniss is working on a new book on Detroit.
Douglas Waller, who was senior correspondent on defense and foreign policy for Time and Newsweek, has talked at Bjorklunden about Time goes together, war at home and abroad, and Washington politics. (And revealed that former Secretary of State George Schultz had a tiger tattooed on his backside!)
Seminar suggestions are considered. Mine was to invite Waller after hearing him on C-Span.
Bjorklunden's chapel will become a classroom some days, as it did when students attended the "Midwest Medieval" session in July.
Helping to keep the programming viable is the Boynton Society, a group of supporters named for the original owners. The society also sponsors some trips (Scandinavia last year) and has helped to host a water quality seminar related to Wisconsin — and China.
Bjorklunden campus administrators are Mark Breseman, director, based at Lawrence University, and Samantha A. Szynskie, assistant director, on site at the Door County learning lodge.
The headquarters address is Lawrence University, 711 E. Boldt Way, SPC 18, Appleton, Wis.
For a course booklet, write Bjorklunden Seminars, P.O.Box 10, Bailey's Harbor, WI 54202, call 921-839-2216 or email Szynskis@Lawrence.edu.
While students are in the area, they might attend concerts, including steel pan and other instruments at Birch Creek in the middle of the Door; Peninsula Players productions, outdoor events at Sister Bay, including sunset watching, or shop at the many galleries. And of course there is the Door meal du jour, the fish boil.