About our Keeper Program
You can live in Mission Point Lighthouse and be a keeper with our unique and popular Lighthouse Keeper Program! Being a keeper for a week is a wonderfully unique volunteer opportunity in which you will stay in the actual lighthouse and share your time and talents. In the gift shop and on the property, you get to meet and talk to visitors from all over the world. Our keepers play a key role in helping to keep this treasured piece of Michigan maritime history alive. Michigan lighthouses are owned by different organizations or some are privately owned, so the few keeper programs available vary and have separate application processes.
The keepers’ quarters area is well equipped with all the essentials needed to have a comfortable stay. The area of the house where the keeper stays has: kitchen appliances, dishes, cooking utensils, small appliances (coffee maker, toaster, microwave, crock pot, gas grill, etc.), ironing board and iron, all cleaning supplies, and even a washer and a dryer. There is free WIFI, a television with cable service, central air conditioning, a generator and plenty of space. We have a locked storage building for keepers bikes or other recreational equipment. Keepers provide their own bed sheets, pillows, blankets, towels, and food. The living quarters has a modern furnace and central air-conditioner.
Mission Point Lighthouse keepers are two high-energy adults (occasionally we can schedule up to 4 keepers). The bedroom has two single beds, which can be kept together for a couple or spread apart for friends or other relations. We also have a sleeper sofa in the living room. Keepers must be 18 or older. Children and pets are not allowed to stay at the lighthouse. Keepers are welcome to have friends or family visit the lighthouse in the evenings (after 5 pm), but guests are not to overnight at the lighthouse.
While the responsibilities are not difficult, lighthouse keepers do need to be able to climb the 37 steps to the tower to spot clean the windows, sweep stairs and vacuum daily. Keepers are also expected to perform some very simple grounds maintenance on the lighthouse property (not mowing); light housekeeping and if time permits, a choice of maintenance projects (painting, minor repairs, etc.). We enjoy keepers with talents/experience that can benefit our historic property. Keepers also encourage and maintain visitation records; help with retail stocking and typical retail duties. Our retail tasks are very simple with the Square POS on WIFI/Bluetooth system, tax is included and all items are priced simply so giving change is easy. Of course, keepers need to be friendly and helpful to all visitors.
The normal weekly schedule is Tuesday to Tuesday with arrival in the afternoon and departure in the late morning. One day off (Wednesday) is given each week. Upon arrival, the keepers will be given a tour of the house and grounds so everything is clear and understood. Retail training starts on Thursday, the day the shop is open. (Cost is $200 for the week and $370 for 2 consecutive weeks if qualified.) A 2-week stay or more is happily encouraged, especially for repeat keepers. Nearly each year at least half of those scheduled are repeat keepers.
Keepers are expected to be neat, well groomed, and appropriately attired when on duty. We encourage keepers to explore Traverse City after 5pm and on their day off. While keepers may certainly leave after the lighthouse is closed for the day, keepers are expected to sleep in the lighthouse each night of their stay.
Information about the brief history of Mission Point Lighthouse, as well as retail training, are provided. There is a thorough training manual provided too. Private access parking is available directly behind the lighthouse for keepers. Camping or use of a motorhome is not permitted. Many keepers choose to bring bikes, SUP boards, kayaks etc. and we have a storage building for recreational storage use.
If you embrace snow and northern Michigan winters, you are welcome to be a keeper in our closed season December through March, when available. We schedule off-season keepers only during weeks when contractors are not working in the lighthouse. All the same responsibilities are needed but no retail hours in the gift shop are required. So winter keepers can stay alone if interested and days are flexible. In the off-season, we can accommodate a minimum of 3-night stays. Of course, the schedule off-season is more flexible since the shop is not open. There is an optional task list given and duties will be discussed with lighthouse manager on arrival. (Check with manager for off-season rates and availablility.) Mission Point Lighthouse is a State and National Historic Site. Pets and children cannot stay at the lighthouse.
How to Apply
If you are interested in becoming a Lighthouse Keeper at Mission Point Lighthouse, you are not alone. We receive several applications monthly. Please click for the keeper application procedures, for the keeper handbook, and see the Keeper Tab for the keeper availability calendar. Be sure to read the entire handbook completely before applying. If your application is not complete, you will be notified and put in the "incomplete applications" file. A full application is required from each person. If not in same household you MUST fill out a separate application. Do not submit payment with application, we will let you know if your application is accepted and on the calendar, then invoice you. For in-season keepers, you must apply with a partner. For the off-season keepers, you can apply alone and some of the information in the Keeper Handbook will not apply. Lighthouse manager does all keeper scheduling beginning in late fall or winter for the next season. It's best to get your application in ASAP to be on file. The schedule is usually full by January. No need to reapply annually, unless your address etc. has changed. You do need to email the manager annually with dates requested.
Michigan lighthouses have about a dozen keeper programs and they are all different since the lighthouses are owned and run by different organizations and have different needs. Be sure you understand, just because you've been a keeper at another lighthouse does not mean Mission Point Keeper Program will be the same.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) -
Mission Point Keeper Program
Do you rent rooms? No, it's a keeper program for the whole house.
Why do you need all this application information on the keepers? Our keepers stay overnight in our beloved historic lighthouse and it is very important that they understand the unique responsibility of this position.
What are you looking for in a reference? The reference needs to be for the keeper program.
Since 2 keepers are needed for the open season (May-November) do you pair up keepers? No, we never pair up keepers. You must apply with a partner for the open season. If partners are in separate household, I need separate application. Full applications from both are needed.
Do I need to reapply each year? No, if we have your full application with current contact information, it is filed. Reapply if your contact information has changed.
I was a keeper at Mission Point in the past, how do I apply for next year? Simply email the manager your requested dates - don't text this information (the more flexible you are the better chance of getting on the schedule).
I was a lighthouse keeper at another lighthouse. Do I need to apply for service at Mission Point? Yes, we are not affiliated with other lighthouses. Our program is unique to Mission Point, we require a full application.
Can keepers serve for a week 2 years in a row? Yes, more than half of our keepers return every year.
Can keepers serve for 2 weeks? Yes, and the cost is $370 for 2 weeks. Manager prefers repeat keepers to consider the 2 week option.
The selection of keepers and all scheduling on the calendar is by the discretion of the Mission Point Lighthouse Manager. If you have further questions in becoming a keeper at our unique lighthouse, please email Ginger Schultz, Lighthouse Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.