Miracle of the Straits
“Lighthouse keepers wanted. Must be able to read, write and follow written directions.” This might have been an ad from the early 1900’s. However, the words hold true today.
The Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association is looking for volunteers who would like to serve as assistant lighthouse keepers at the St Helena Island light station and experience “the Miracle of the Straits.” An experienced keeper will be on site throughout your stay for guidance and assistance.
A fee, charged to volunteer at St Helena, includes housing, meals, snacks, beverages and consumables. Housing opportunities are varied and are dependent on the groups scheduled on the island. Volunteer keeper openings are available from mid-June through mid-August, with tours of duty ranging from a minimum of 3 days through the entire two month period, based on the volunteer’s availability.
Positions are open to singles, couples and families; however any children must be at least 8 years of age to participate. Volunteers will be transported by charter boat from Mackinaw City or via a two mile trip from the south shore of the Upper Peninsula in one of our fourteen-foot outboard powered Zodiacs. Volunteers will spend their entire tour of duty on the island before being returned to Mackinaw City or the Upper Peninsula. Duties can run the gamut from painting, sanding, cooking, washing dishes, dusting, hand-pumping and carrying water, serving as a tour guide, and clearing brush and weeds.
Download an application by clicking the link below and call us at 231-436-5580, Monday through Friday if you have any questions or email to
Lying two miles offshore from Michigan's Upper Peninsula and ten miles west of the world famous Mackinac Island, lies St. Helena Island. The 266 - acre uninhabited island once had a thriving community of over two hundred people. Now St. Helena only sees about 250 visitors to the lighthouse, located on the eastern end of the island, during the summer season.
Find out more history about the island and the light station by downloading the PDF file below.
After obtaining a license to restore the light station from the Coast Guard in 1986, GLLKA immediately took the abandoned lighthouse under its wing. With the help of a stalwart group of dedicated volunteers, work began on clearing years of accumulated debris and brush and securing the station for eventual restoration. The lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, and two years later the boys and parents of Boy Scout Troop 4 of Ann Arbor, Michigan began what would become an annual pilgrimage to St. Helena to assist with the restoration. After hearing of the groups' success, numerous other youth groups, Church groups and Girl Scouts began lining-up to assist with the restoration.
Over the ensuing years, the entire lighthouse complex has been lovingly restored, including the installation of a new wood shingle roof, rebuilding of the boat house and assistant keepers dwelling, installation of new lantern and chimney, and the replacement of thousands of bricks in the tower. Perhaps most amazingly, as a result of shallow waters which surround the island, all of the volunteers and materials have to be transferred to the island in small inflatable boats. Over the years, 25 Boy Scouts have successfully undertaken Eagle Scout Service Projects and Girl Scouts have earned 3 Gold and 5 Silver awards for their work on the island.
Lighthouse preservation is not a one-time affair, and it is anything but inexpensive! With work at St. Helena approximately 95% complete, we estimate that the work has already cost close to 1.5 million dollars.
Boy Scouts at
Boy Scouts of America Ann Arbor Troop 4
Since 1990, the Scouts, leaders and parents of Boy Scouts of America Ann Arbor Troop 4 have been making an annual pilgrimage north to work their miracles at our St. Helena Island light station. Over the ensuing years, a remarkable twenty-five Boy Scouts have earned Eagle Scout awards as a result of their service projects undertaken at the light station.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America. The honor is considered so special that the title of Eagle Scout is held for life, thus giving rise to the phrase "Once an Eagle, always an Eagle." In order to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, a Scout must already have earned a minimum of 21 merit badges, have demonstrated consistent Scout Spirit, and demonstrated leadership in the troop.
A Boy Scout must plan, develop, fund and lead a service project - the Eagle Project - that demonstrates both leadership and a commitment to duty. He must then take part in a Scoutmaster conference. After all requirements are met, he must complete an Eagle Scout board of review.
The projects these young men continue to undertake at St. Helena are remarkable in both their scope and complexity, as follows:
Ben Wolf - Hosted a major restoration meeting at the island
Jim Getty - Built and installed bat houses and osprey platforms
Jon Morrison - Built a 1/8-scale replica of the light station
Chris Morrison - Restored the station privy
Jay Howe - Built and installed a circular picnic table
Karl Koto - Designed, built and installed an information kiosk
Andrew Redies - Restored the NE bedroom and dwelling eaves
Michael Redies - Built and installed interpretive signs and bird houses
Jason Weaver - Designed a St. Helena brochure and coloring book
Tom Laughlin - Built shelving and a work bench in the basement
Peter Wilson - Restored the summer kitchen
Steve Wise - Reconstructed the large assistant keepers dwelling
Andrew Supiano - Restored the dwelling office and built display cases
Spyros Pavlidis - Built wooden walkways around the boathouse
Rile McCullagh - Raised funds to purchase an automated defibrillator
Dan Vandermade - Restored the tin ceiling in dwelling kitchen
Nick Yeatts - Constructed boat car trolley ramp to the boathouse
Andrew Wardner - Restored the interior of the lantern
Michael Saunders - Restored the dwelling stairway
Nick Terrell - Installed solar and propane hot water showers
Ben Kirsch - Scanned restoration photos and created database
Matthew Orr - Built and installed boat car for boathouse
Jacob Levine - Restored the cabinets and window trim in the tower
Nicholas Wardner - Built corner cabinet and workbench in boathouse
Spencer Morgan - Built exterior of small assistant keepers dwelling