by Ramey Kodadek

This past weekend my parents, my brother’s family, and my family camped at Big Arm Campground on Flathead Lake. I’ve been camping at Big Arm since I was about six years old. Every summer we would pack up the pop-up (loaded to the gills with food, water toys, and creature comforts) and spend a week on that beautiful lake. Our days were filled swimming, canoeing, floating, and sailing with my dad.

Several memories stand out when I think back over those years. One year my parents accidentally pulled the side of the pop-up out and a nice guy from Bretz drove all the way up to the lake to fix it. Then there was the year the catamaran mast broke and came crashing down, nearly taking my mom with it. One summer we went to a friend’s cabin for the 4th of July and one of my parent’s friends accidentally started the dock on fire with his pyromaniac firework show. We discovered delicious “salsa sandwiches” consisting of whole wheat bread, Pace salsa, and Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese, and turned our hair blond with bottles of Sun-In. And of course, we spent hours and hours swimming and floating in the beautiful water, often so cold it would take your breath away and so clear that you could see to the bottom through its magical glacial greens, blues, and purples.

kids in a boat on Flathead Lake

This past weekend was very much like the ones of my childhood. My sons and niece and nephew played on the rocky beach at the water’s edge for hours. My dad took the oldest grandkids out in a little inflatable boat (after being reminded to PLEASE not scare them by telling them about the world’s largest alligators and other various monsters that live in Flathead Lake). My brother and I had a push-up contest to warm up before plunging into the lake. He won like he always did when we were kids. We stayed up late sitting around the campfire. The night was long and no one in my family got much sleep. But we woke up smiling with dirty faces and feet, and the kids immediately went back to playing on the beach while the adults drank copious amounts of coffee.

kids in a boat on Flathead Lake

It was really special for me to spend a weekend with my parents, kids, and family in a place that holds so many great memories. As we made our drive up north on Highway 93 and had our first breathtaking view of the Missions, my husband reminded me that he hadn’t seen his first “real” mountain until he was 15. We both smiled and said how lucky we feel to be raising our kids in Montana where they get to see the beauty of this amazing place every day.