Life at the lake

“You come here, and you think that’s not the Chicago River, that’s not the Gulf of Mexico, that’s not the Atlantic Ocean. It’s Lake Michigan.” —Alex Reiner of Westport, Connecticut

The shore of Lake Michigan, just a three-minute walk from the dorms and the journalism school, is dotted with dogs, sunbathers, volleyball players — and cherubs.

“The waves aren’t huge, and it’s not super noisy,” said Ananya Panchal of Los Altos, California. “There’s just the right amount of people, and the waves have just the right amount of force where when they crash on the beach — it’s a really calming noise.”

Cherubs often wake up early to watch the sunrise. Photo by Anne Pritikin

Recreational Activities:

The shore and grassy Lakefill — a man-made expansion of the campus on the lake — provide ample space for swimming, Frisbee, volleyball, football, sunbathing and Spikeball. (To play this popular college game, two-person teams slam a ball into a net to make it unreturnable.)

“We usually have a steady rotation at the beach. So we’ll Spikeball for about 30 minutes or so, and then we’ll go swimming in the lake to cool off, and then we’ll do it about five more times,” said Max Hayes of Lake Forest, Illinois. “It’s a good way to spend a Saturday.”

Max Hayes, Sam Heller and Evan Kolin play Spikeball on the sand. Photo by Alex Reiner

Fourth of July:

Cherubs gather at 9 p.m. on the Lakefill grass to watch the fireworks over the lake.

“It was very pretty because I liked being able to see the contrast of the fireworks on top and the light shining on the lake,” said Olivia Cohen of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Junior Junior Olympics:

The 82 cherubs, divided into eight instructor groups, arrived in the evening at the Lakefill to compete in tug of war, dizzy bat and wheelbarrow racing with the backdrop of the sun setting over the city.

“The lake provided great scenery because we could look out on the water as were struggling to pretend to be athletes, and it also provided for great cool weather as we sweated our little hearts out,” said Sarah Fernandez of Las Vegas.

Favorite lake memories:

“About five or six times I’ve been on a run around the Lakefill. You’re completely wiped out, and you see this great view of just being alongside the water, and that’s just unlike any other run I’ve been on.”  — Sam Heller of New York

A view of the Chicago skyline is visible from the Lakefill. Photo by Danny Vesurai

“We came across this boat painted like a watermelon, and I literally thought it was just about the cutest thing ever. It was super summery and encapsulated the happiness and completed the picture of what the lake truly means to me.”  — Jilly Rolnick of Hillsborough, California

Jilly Rolnick and Joan Gwak pose on the watermelon boat. Photo by Sarah Fernandez

“This one night we just played volleyball on the grass barefoot. This was also the night before the Fourth of July, so we started hearing fireworks. Immediately we ran to the bridge on the lake and sat down and watched the fireworks. It was a great ending to our night.” — Allison Ugarte of Miami

“We went there once for sunrise. Oh, my gosh. It was so early, and we were all so tired. It was a magical moment. There were a couple clouds, but it was OK because they were highlighted by the colors. The clouds covered the sunrise, but there was a little burning ball of fire that we could see from behind the clouds.” — Kayla Guo of Long Island, New York

Kayla Guo squats on the shore watching the sunrise. Photo by Joan Gwak

“Once I finally jumped in and felt the water hit my face, it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The sand here, you’d think we were in Jamaica when you’re on this beach. Just the sand, so smooth, almost fluffy. You like when it gets stuck to you when you’re all wet. I really like how it feels between my toes when I’m playing some Spikeball. You’re not afraid to dive and land on a rock. When you dive here, it’s like landing on the clouds.” —Alex Reiner of Westport, Connecticut

Kayla Guo and Jilly Rolnick lie on the grass by the lake. Photo by Joan Gwak

Tim Lan and JB Lim walk by the shore. Photo by Danny Vesurai

Kayla Guo wades in the lake as the sun rises. Photo by Livi Burdette

Juliana Mayer and Annie Zavitz sit on the Lakefill. Photo by Danny Vesurai

Frankie Gaynor sits on the shore early in the morning. Photo by Anne Pritikin