Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 2, 2012

Northern People: Man creates retreat near Manton


MANTON — Bob Borin has spent the better part of the last 40 years creating a retreat that he ultimately hopes will promote compassion, consciousness and family togetherness.

Borin grew up in Detroit, the son of a Holocaust survivor whose lifelong positive attitude became an inspiration.

"To my mother, every day was a new day," said Borin, 65. "(Her view was) if you have a problem, work through it, because that's how her life had been."

With a master's degree in social work, Borin was a school social worker in downstate Taylor before going to work for Michigan's Family Independence Agency, from which he has retired. He has also worked in crisis counseling.

The approximately 10-acre lake he created on the 40 acres he purchased a few miles northwest of Manton in 1972 is named for his mother, Paulette Borin. She died earlier this year at 91.

The lake is just one of the features on the spread he now refers to as Borinville. Other highlights include a "Tunnel of Positive Thinking," Treasure Island, an enchanted forest and a "Cabin of Inspiration." There's also a train station with a small train on wheels and a "fishing frontier" pond complete with fish.

"What I did was I constructed a place I felt families could bond, where kids could get a positive experience," Borin said.

The concept for Borinville took shape after Borin saw how helpful it was to take patients from Pontiac State Hospital on retreats.

"The retreat was so effective in their behavior, I said wow, the only way you could effectively work with groups of kids would be to build a facility," he said. "I didn't think it would take 40 years."

But how time flies when you're building a lake and trails and several structures including a cabin and house. In 1988, he and his family relocated to Manton.

This year at Halloween, Borinville hosted more than 200 people for seasonal fun. Now with help from Nick and Martha Snyder and family, Borinville is offering a musical light show for the holidays. Hours are from Wednesday to Sunday, 5 to 7 p.m., through Dec. 31. Those attending can pay $4 to put a candle on the "Wall of Compassion" or bring a nonperishable food item to donate. Borin is currently seeking nonprofit status for Borinville.

"I want to create a happy spot," he said. "I want to open it up to the community so other groups can come and use it if they want to. "It turned out to be a beautiful place."

For more information, call Borin at 920-4091 or email Borinville is located at 39 Road in Manton between 14 and 12 Road.