Every summer … How do you finish the sentence?

Every summer …

… I wade the beach for one mile.

… I pull out my guitar and sing badly at the beach bonfire.

… I make a cherry pie with my grandma and eat it on the dock.

Summer rituals gain richness with simplicity. Let the ideas that follow inspire rituals of your own.

1. Row a boat.

2. Stay on the dock—all day.

The best day is when you can sit on the end of the dock and do nothing. Just get in and out of the water. Watch the kids tip the canoe. —Heather McNutt, Birmingham and Burt Lake

3. Stash. Fish. Enjoy.

I always take one day to fish the stretch of the Rapid River upstream from Seven Bridges. I go after the low maintenance approach—no waders or anything. My new thing—now that I’ve come of age—is to put a couple of beers in the river where I’m going to get out so they’re cold when I get there. —Ty Ratliff, Petoskey

4. Canoe a tiny river.

At least once a month I canoe the 3.5-mile Boyne River. It’s shallow and there’s no livery. It’s beautiful and peaceful. I keep a log of my trips to document who was with me, the water level, what I saw. Last week we did it under the full moon. —Adam Kennedy, Boyne City

5. Explore new waters.

We got a boat and started a tradition of trying to visit at least six different lakes during our vacation. This year we hit more—Crystal, Platte, Long, East and West Grand Traverse Bays, Torch, Elk, Skegemog, Leelanau and Duck. We try to take a different lake every sunny day. They’re all so different—the color, the sand, the smell. —Terri Bailey, Honor and Dewitt

6. Drop a ski.

7. Put peanut butter in your s’more.

8. Make a mint julep.

9. Buy a giant beach towel.

10. Find a fossil

For years we hunted fossils at the ledge, a shale ledge along Lake Michigan north of Fisherman’s Island State Park filled with fossilized brachiopods, trilobites and crinoids from when Michigan was covered by saltwater 425 million to 225 million years ago. —Cheri Leach, East Jordan

…Polish a fossil

When you get home from the beach with a pail of fossils, it’s time to polish them. Sand a fossil window—an area where the fossil pattern will shine forever more—using wet/dry sandpaper with grit of (in this sequence) 180, 320, 600 and up to 1,500.

11. Body surf on a Great Lake.

12. Catch some panfish and fry ’em up.

Summer wouldn’t be summer without a fish fry. My kids are old enough now (ages 3 and 5) to go out in grandpa’s boat and do almost everything themselves. He baits the hook but they put out their own line and reel it in. Usually they catch perch. They’ve caught their dinner a couple of nights this summer. —Heather McNutt, Birmingham and Burt Lake

13. Take a morning nap—in a hammock.

14. Play chess on the dock.

15. Play ultimate Frisbee with your crew.

Once a week we get 10 or 12 kids—an even number—together to play ultimate Frisbee at Young State Park. You divide up into teams and try to get the Frisbee to the guy at the goal. We use a couple of beach towels for the goals. You have to dive a lot to intercept. Afterwards, we all jump in the water, of course. —Brad Winkler, Boyne City

16. Ski tranquil waters.

As often as possible, we water ski early in the morning and late at night—the two extremes when the lake is like glass. —Linda Bahle, Suttons Bay

17. Arrive by boat.

Every summer my sons go downtown to Harbor Springs in a boat. It started when they were little and their friend Rusty got his boaters’ license—his dad bought him a rubber dinghy with a motor that didn’t go over 5 mph. The boys would take the dinghy to town and then get a sandwich at Gurney’s. I guess there’s just something special about arriving by boat. —Pam Dilley, Okemos and Wequetonsing

18. Read a trashy novel.

One day every summer I go to the bookstore and find a romance novel—I just choose the one with the raciest cover, a true bodice ripper—and then head to the beach with a tube of sunscreen and a pitcher of tequila sunrises. Nobody is allowed to bother me until I turn the last page. It’s delicious. —Sandy Peros, Honor and Fulsom, California

19. Throw a salmon party.

Every year during our stay at Chimney Resort, we throw a salmon party with the other guests there. Most of them return the same week each year. The night before the party a team of dads and sons goes out on the Sea Joy II with Captain Steve Bradley—he’s the best. The next day there’s a little negotiation among the families about who is bringing what. We have about four or five grills going at the beach house and we eat. Of course, what’s really important is to hear the stories of how they caught the fish. —Marie Gaudette, Chicago, Illinois; Joanne Sobal, Richmond, Indiana; Nancy Sahlin, Ridgewood, New Jersey

20. Jump off a dune.

21. Get your hair wet swimming.

22. Sleep on the beach.

23. Fish a crawdad hole.

My sister and I summered near Black Creek in Topinabee when we were kids. At least once every summer we’d take the ice fishing poles and put a big ball of peanut butter on the hooks and drop them in the creek. Crawdads would be attracted to the peanut butter. It wasn’t that they ate it, they’d just get stuck to it. —Creighton Litt, Mukilteo, WA

24. Find a potluck dinner near you.

Thursday night at the Torch Lake Yacht and Country Club is family night. The cook makes a main dish and everyone brings something to pass. A lot of people bring the same thing every week, not because they’re in a rut but because everybody likes it. You know, so and so always brings deviled eggs. I always bring Shanty Creek potato salad because it’s such a favorite, and I work there. —Barry Godwin, Traverse City

Shanty Creek Potato Salad

  • 6–10 whole peeled white potatoes
  • 6–8 sliced hardboiled eggs
  • 1 large chopped, minced white onion
  • 11/2 T. dried parsley
  • 2 T. cider vinegar
  • 2 T. yellow mustard
  • 1 qt. Hellmann’s mayonnaise
  • 11/2 T. Shanty Creek prime rib spice (equal parts: kosher salt, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, basil, white pepper, black pepper, celery salt, ground oregano)

Boil potatoes, then grind in a food processor or put through a meat grinder. Add everything but the eggs and mix well. Add eggs and stir gently.

25. Bury yourself in the sand.

26. Go night swimming.

27. Fire up a hobo stew.

Every summer, when we go sailing on Lake Michigan for two weeks with our aunt and uncle, we stop at beaches for bonfires and make hobo stew. You just cut up potatoes, celery and carrots and cooked chicken—we use rotisserie chicken. Then you shape aluminum foil into pie tins (one for everyone) and put the ingredients in with some butter and wrap it up and put it on the bonfire. —Anna and Julia Coulter, Old Mission

Elizabeth Edwards is managing editor of MyNorth.com. E-mail: lissa@traversemagazine.com