Day 37: Boyne Thunder

Photo by Rick Wolanin.

[box size=”large” border=”full”]Why this is awesome: Boyne Thunder proves that the Great Lakes are the best boating region in the Midwest by holding an annual charity event that exhibits high performance speed boats. [/box]

For the past eight years Boyne City, Michigan has hosted one of the most creative and entertaining charity events in the nation: Boyne Thunder. This annual boat competition boasts high performance speeds boats tearing though Lake Michigan waters, all for a good cause.  All of the contributions accumulated over the two day period are donated to Camp Quality, a non-profit organization dedicated to change the lives of children with cancer.

Photo by Rick Wolanin.

Boyne Thunder is a different type of competition. Instead of the usual race to the finish line, the participants are involved in what is called a “poker run.” A poker run is a course set up with five different check points. Each speed boat weaves through the course, collecting a playing card at each check point.  When all five cards are collected, the participants can then complete the course and head towards the finish line. The next part of the competition takes place during the Saturday evening dinner party; each contestant reveals their poker hand and the crew with the best hand is announced as the winner.  A poker run is a game of chance, making it fair game for all competitors.  Participants navigate their way 90 miles around Lake Michigan, starting their journey in Boyne City and making card stops at each check point: Beaver Island, Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Bay Harbor, and Horton Bay.

Photo by Rick Wolanin.

For those who are non-boaters, 90 miles in a single day is quite a distance. However, at Boyne Thunder these boats carve through the water at very high speeds. These high performance vessels are made to travel at accelerated speeds and have very powerful engines with the maximum amount of horsepower. Usually you can hear go-fast boat’s engines from far away, another indicator of how powerful they are.

All of the funds collected by Boyne Thunder are donated to Camp Quality. This non-profit organization is a support program for children with cancer. They offer year-round support and a summer camp program for children and their families, at no cost. Camp Quality promotes hope through a stress-free environment and unique experiences that inspire children to reach their full potential. Through this organization, children with cancer gain courage, motivation, emotional strength, and more importantly friendship. Throughout this “Smile Therapy,” these children discover laughter, smiles, and embrace a long-lasting enjoyable experience that they’ll never forget.

Boyne Thunder is an extreme sporting event that is entertaining for any age. Go to to learn how to become a competitor, or just a spectator, for the 2012 Boyne Thunder. Also, head to to discover more information about Camp Quality, including how to volunteer and donate! ~Mel Libby, Regional Director.

2011 Boyne Thunder Winners. Photo by Rick Wolanin.

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The Awesome Mitten was born when I moved back to Michigan from Nashville, TN in September 2010. Almost immediately, I became frustrated. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t more Michigan residents singing our states praises! I was so irritated, I wrote a Letter to the Editor. Three weeks later, I had started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a landing page for the website, determined to do something to make Michigan residents aware of all the cool things going on in their own state. Email me: