After completing her degree, Jalisa packed her belongings into her car and left the sunshine state of Florida to begin her journey as a Michigander. She built up her four-season wardrobe and quickly learned that the acceptable way to tell others where you are from in the state is by pointing to a spot on your hand.

Jalisa didn’t know anyone living in Michigan before her transition to the area. In fact, the first time she stepped foot in Michigan was for her interview in Newaygo County for a position at Camp Newaygo as the Assistant Director. After ten years in this role, Jalisa explains that working full-time at a summer camp is a lifestyle—not a job.

Since landing her first position out of college, she has found that living in a small town is certainly an adjustment but a welcome one. “You can’t just get Jimmy John’s delivered to your door. There’s no uber. But the lack of traffic is totally worth it. And, I love running into people I know at the grocery store,” Jalisa said.

Along with limited traffic and spotting friendly faces around town, Jalisa enjoys the many festivals and events that happen throughout the year. She describes downtown Newaygo as a quaint town with a close-knit community. She’s developed many new friendships through her position at Camp Newaygo and now considers herself a Michigander along with her husband, his family, and their 9-month-old son.

She enjoyed growing up in Florida, but as an avid outdoor enthusiast, she’s found plenty to enjoy about West Michigan. “This is such a beautiful state to explore. I love living next to the Manistee National Forest, surrounded by inland lakes, and Lake Michigan is only 45 minutes away,” she explained. Finding a career where she can work outside with children was a driving force for relocation. As part of her role as Camp Director, she organizes camping trips for children and adults throughout the region.

Since adjusting to life in West Michigan, she has found some of her favorite outdoor spots. She recommends hiking Nordhouse Dunes, starting at the Nurnberg Trailhead to the Lake Michigan Recreation Area. After work you can find her with a baby carrier and her dalmatian hiking the nearby Coolbough Natural Area. Her favorite West Michigan adventures include biking the Heritage Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes and kayaking at Pictured Rocks.

Looking to explore opportunities in Newaygo county and the rest of the region like Jalisa? Check out our ReThink West Michigan event, happening in six West Michigan locations on November 27.

Disclosure – Any reference to a person, organization, product, or activity in Hello West Michigan’s blog posts does not constitute or imply endorsement. These blog posts are used to share first-hand experiences of what it’s like to live, work, and play in West Michigan – not promote a specific person, organization, product, or activity. Hello West Michigan does not receive compensation or other benefits for blog post mentions.