In 2007 I met a wandering soul at Birch Lake Campground. He was in the process of putting his life back together after having been hurt physically and psychologically. He was interested in a job, and we had need of a campground host. To be honest, I was pretty nervous about hiring him. But I took a chance, and am ever so thankful that I did.

Doug became the heart and soul of the campgrounds we run, as well as a steady rock for the sled dog tours. For those of you who have been on our sled dog trips, Doug was always quietly in the background, and right there when you needed help. As a guide, his patience, sense of humor, and love of running dogs earned him many heartfelt compliments.

He took such pride in helping things to run smoothly. Christmas Eve this year found him with his extreme politeness, asking me if he could run out to the yurt. “If you don’t mind, I just want to make sure it is looking perfect.” That is the kind of pride he took in this place.

Doug was always having fun and enjoying everything. When we would end up spending an entire afternoon getting a vehicle unstuck, he would say, “Thank you for letting me help with that. I really enjoyed it!” And from the giant grin on his face, you knew that he meant it.

Doug truly got the most out of life. He was always getting out and doing, while always remembering to care for those around him. Everyone here learned something from him.

Doug died as he lived, working and living in the north woods. The hole that has been left here is enormous, and he will be missed every day.