By Emily Haines Lloyd

In the heart of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, nestled along the Manistique River, lies Northland Outfitters, a campground and canoe/kayak livery that has become more than a destination; it’s a canvas for dreams. Owned by Durea and Levi Brady, a couple who embarked on an extraordinary journey from Denver to the UP, Northland Outfitters is now not just a place for nature lovers, but a home for a giant wooden troll—named Benny.

The story begins with Durea and Levi, who had a dream of owning a campground. In 2022, after two years of exploration, they stumbled upon Northland Outfitters, an enchanting spot that felt less like a camp ground and more like a natural haven. The Bradys envisioned a place where families could connect with nature ,and they found it in the woods of Germfask, Michigan.

“We spent two years looking for the right camping grounds,” said Durea. “We’d begun to wonder if we’d ever locate ‘the one,’ but then we visited Germfask and we knew we’d found home.”

The Bradys had been considering additional revenue streams—and then the dream of a literal revenue stream appeared. The couple wanted something memorable and distinctive that would draw individuals to their campground and the community they had fallen in love with. Enter Benny.

“We’d seen a natural art installation by a recycled material sculpture artist from Copenhagen, Denmark, Thomas Dambo, in Breckenridge, Colorado. It was so impactful and inspiring. We started dreaming up something like this at the campground,” said Durea. “We knew if we were going to try something like this, it needed to be a part of the natural habitat, not something artificial or out of place.”

The Bradys reached out to Dambo, who was serendipitously in the States on a tour, and agreed to meet with the couple to talk about their idea. After visions were shared, the image of Benny the Beard Fisher, resting along the riverbank, started to come to life.


The Bradys turned to their community for support, receiving generous donations of wood from lifelong UP residents and local businesses. The result was Benny, the 14-foot-highand 30-foot-wide towering figure whose tangled wooden beard runs down the riverbank, hoping to catch something—if not a fish, then some admiring looks. People traveling the river on various water vessels can catch a glorious view of Benny as they round the bend. He’s also available to visit via the campground. Benny is a welcoming figure on this perfect bit of home that the Bradys have carved out for themselves.

“We absolutely think of the campground as a home,” said Durea. “Maybe not a conventional one, butwe have the opportunity to welcome new people into our family every few days. It’s the best feeling.”


The family feel of Northland Outfitters has made it more than a campground; it’s a place for community. Benny’s presence has brought people together, fostering a sense of pride and joy among visitors. On a busy day last summer, they brought 300–400guests into their family fold.

Looking ahead, Durea and Levi envision not just a campground but a community hub, complete with events in the woods featuring live music, food trucks, and art tents that will solidify Northland Outfitters as its own work of art.

Benny is part of that canvas, drawing people closer to nature to discover what is both beautiful and magical about the wild.


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