Bennett well spent career helping others at Bay Cliff camp

A life well lived might be measured by the number of people attending your funeral. A career well served, on the other hand, could be measured in many ways, from professional accolades to the amount of wealth you’ve accumulated.

For Tim Bennett, longtime executive director at Bay Cliff Health Camp in Big Bay, his career will surely be measured by the number of lives he’s touched.

For nearly three decades, Bennett has been a driving force behind the operations at Bay Cliff, a special place for countless Upper Peninsula children and adults.

“We stand on the shoulders of the people that came before us,” Bennett humbly remarked in a recent Journal article. “We have to have a deep commitment to the groundwork that has been laid. We’ve grown it, expanded our programs to meet the needs with the core belief that all kids are important, nobody is disposable, that they are all valuable. That child with a substantial disability is just as important as anybody else. Bay Cliff has not changed. Their vision is still here. Sure we have grown — the numbers, the programs, the buildings — but that philosophy of empowering kids, setting the bar high for ourselves, I didn’t invent those things.”

The camp was created in 1934 by Dr. Goldie Corneliuson and Elba Morse, who both held notable roles in the health care industry at the time.

The women, who had spent much time caring for malnourished and underweight children in the U.P., wanted a place where those kids could get three square meals a day and be exposed to the outdoors, with camping experiences, fresh air and sunshine, according to the camp’s website.

In 1940, though, a polio outbreak swept through the U.P., leaving behind hundreds of paralyzed children. That, according to the website, is when the mission of Bay Cliff changed from providing a place to care for hungry kids to one serving those with physical limitations.

“Health & wellness in the form of good nutrition would always remain a strong concept of Bay Cliff but now it would include an emphasis on therapy and rehabilitation,” the site states.

Though polio no longer has the prevalence it once did, children continue to face other challenges that impair physical abilities, and Bay Cliff offers those youngsters with invaluable support.

There’s no doubt that Bennett has been an integral piece of that network, and we’d like to thank him for all that he’s done.

It’s also appropriate to thank the community for its support of Bay Cliff. As a camp that operates as a nonprofit, donations are vital to the continued success at Bay Cliff and our community and its members and organizations have allowed that to happen for more than 80 years.

“Through a program of therapy and camping fun, children with physical disabilities are learning skills and reaching goals to live a fuller more independent life,” the website states.

Bennett said he likes to think that he supported Bay Cliff’s mission, and did his best to “keep that goodness” at the camp.

“The world is fast-paced and there is a lot of dissension in society, but when you cross that gate and get on the bridge into camp, you’re in a different place,” he said. “You are in a place where people are good to each other and support each other. I wish there were more places like Bay Cliff in the world.”

We can’t argue with that.

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