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History Nights at Colonial Michilimackinac

History Nights at Colonial Michilimackinac lets students get their hands dirty, literally, as they experience life as a French Canadian voyageur in the 1770s.


Spend a night in the fort exploring the lives of the voyageurs and their role in the Great Lakes fur trade in this exciting hands-on experience. Sign on as part of a canoe crew with a Michilimackinac merchant, “paddle” a canoe on the six-week journey from Montreal, help prepare hearty traveling rations, and experience the fun and excitement of the voyageurs’ rendezvous games. The program culminates in an immersive trading scenario, with students taking on the roles of Anishnaabek trappers, French Canadian voyageurs, and British merchants to act out the mechanics and economics of the Great Lakes fur trade.


This program is available May 12 – June 2, 2023. Applications can be found at the bottom of this page, and will be accepted beginning January 1.

What teachers and chaperones said:
“This overnight experience will remain with my students for life.”

“I hope this program can continue on to educate others in the future years. It was a wonderful opportunity for all who participate.”

“Our students are still talking about what they learned and experienced! One of our students, who is emotionally impaired and was hesitant about going on this trip, came home and told his parents “I learned so much up there.” This was the very first time he had ever told his parents that he had learned something! What an accomplishment.”

To provide a unique, hands-on overnight educational experience for students to learn about Colonial Michilimackinac, the fur trade, colonial life and aspects of Michigan history in a historic setting. Use of the site is an extension of the classroom and topics covered during the school year. This experience meets the standards of the Grade Level Content Expectations for Michigan (See GLCEs page.)

Grade Level
The programs are designed for grades 3-5 (ideally Michigan History students). Please contact us for more information if you have students in a higher grade. We do not recommend this overnight program to students in grades 2 or lower.

Program Length and Availability
Overnight (5:30 p.m. – 9:00 a.m.); group may tour site after program is done.

Group Size
Eight to thirty students.
Four chaperones are required for the overnight stay and should consist of two females and two males. A fifth chaperone is permitted for picture/video purpose for an extra cost for the night. Chaperones can consist of a mixed group of teachers and parents, but teachers need to be a part of that mixed group. No more than FIVE chaperones allowed during the event! Please have a listing of the group at least one week prior to visit and at arrival.

This is also available for scout troops. Please contact us for more information.

Your groups will stay in reconstructed historic buildings at Colonial Michilimackinac. The girls of the group will sleep in one area and the boys in another. MSHP will provide straw tick mattresses to sleep on, just like they did in colonial days. Please remember these buildings are not heated. Sleeping bags and clothing should be warm enough to accommodate those conditions. Bathroom facilities consist of separate boy/girl stalls and sinks.

Showers are not available.

The tick mattresses are filled with straw. If students are allergic to straw or hay, please take appropriate measures (take medicine, bring something different to sleep on, etc.)

$55/student, $40/adult – four to five adults
$800 minimum (no exceptions; this covers costs)
Transportation is not included in the cost.
A deposit of $400 (half of minimum cost) is required with application for program. Full payment is due two weeks prior to scheduled program. Please make checks payable to Mackinac State Historic Parks.

Your group is responsible for providing its own food for the night’s dinner before you arrive at Colonial Michilimackinac. One snack will be provided during that night that consists of food cooked on the open hearth (soup/stew, bread, and drink) and a breakfast consisting of juice, fruit, sweet breads and other various food will be provided in the morning.

Part of the experience for some students will be to cook over an open fire. These foods will be provided for anyone in the group to eat as a snack. Eating food cooked over an open fire should be part of Parental Release Agreement/Waiver and is the school’s responsibility.

Each group is responsible for its own transportation to and from Colonial Michilimackinac. It is a good idea to have a vehicle available during your stay in case of an emergency.

Visit Responsibilities
Each teacher/chaperone will be assigned duties ahead of the stay by Mackinac State Historic Parks (MSHP) to help with the activities during the evening experience. A pre-visit information packet will be sent to the participating school. It is important for teachers/chaperones to take an active role in the evening events. Schedules will be sent to the contact teacher in advance of the program. Teachers/Chaperones are required to attend to discipline problems, illness and minor injuries.

The contact teacher will receive a packet of information including pre- and post- visit materials, schedules of events and schedules of teacher’s/chaperone’s duties, background information, video about Colonial Michilimackinac and a map of where events will take place. It is the contact teacher’s responsibility to distribute this information, prepare the students and teachers/chaperones for the evening and contact MSHP with any questions, comments and concerns.

Medical Information and Parental Release Agreement
In case of emergencies or health concerns, the participating school will have parents sign release forms for the overnight stay and inform parents on types of activities students are involved in and acquire medical information and permission for emergency medical treatment about each participating student. The school is responsible for any medication or medicines that are handed out to the students. MSHP does not assume any responsibility for any emergency situation pertaining to the participating group.

A MSHP staff member will be on site to help with emergency situations and provide first aid kits to chaperones.
Other Forms

To help prepare for your overnight experience we will provide:

  • Student needs list
  • Chaperone needs list
  • Sample Itinerary
  • Chaperone Responsibilities
  • Teacher’s Packet

Application Process
Complete applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. An application is considered complete only with deposit. Deposit will not be cashed until program is confirmed. Schools may participate in this program for one year. If a vacancy occurs for the following year, previous participating schools may be considered. The application for this program can be found at this link. 

Craig Wilson
P.O. Box 873
Mackinaw City, MI 49701