Living on the lake is all about nature—at least it is for Willa Scantlebury and the critters she crosses paths with. By simply appreciating the environment around her, Willa observes the nuances of nature that many may never notice. Armed with a camera and a keen eye, she captures striking images of animals, birds, butterflies, and insects.
A self-proclaimed nature lover, Willa loves all that lake living has to offer.
“I am not a nature freak, but I’m a freak about nature,” she said. “We have mink, fox, muskrats, ducks, butterflies, and a variety of unique birds that many people don’t even know exist here.”
Willa pointed out a hummingbird moth, which resembles a cross between a bee and a tiny insect-sized bird, flying—or buzzing—around a flower with the same movements as a hummingbird.
Married to her husband Tony for the last 16 years, the couple bought their lake home in 1992 and did renovations before their marriage in 1994. “We looked at 71 houses before buying this one,” said Willa. “We knew we could make this house work for our needs.”
The two met on Lake Hopatcong in 1988 while waterskiing for the day with friends. They are raising two sons, Trent, 15, and Anton, 12. The family enjoys wakeboarding, waterskiing, windsurfing, and cruising around the lake.
She runs her business, Willa Scantlebury Advertising Design, from her home office designed specifically for her. Since 1983 Willa has owned and operated the graphic design company where she creates everything from logos to wine labels. She designs print advertising and promotional material, and her client base ranges from Fortune 500 companies to ma-and-pop stores.
A meaning of the name Willa is “protection,” and Scantlebury lives up to that through the community volunteer work she does. After seeing the amount of trash left on the grounds of community sports fields, Willa began HELP, Hopatcong Eliminating Litter Program. She promotes community awareness by reaching out to schools and various sports organizations and programs. She believes if every person and every group does their part to pick up after their event, litter will be kept to a minimum.
Willa is on the Hopatcong Recreation Committee, helping to oversee and coordinate the town’s events. She is also chairwoman for the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club Paddlers, organizing outings for the group of kayakers and canoeists.
She was recently the race organizer for the “Run for Jordan,” Hopatcong’s largest race that drew more than 800 runners, with proceeds going to a little girl with a Ewing sarcoma, a form of cancer.
This year Willa was instrumental in the lake’s first annual water chestnut harvesting. She helped organize a squad of people to search for, identify, and remove the dangerously invasive plant, which has the potential to take over a lake while completely choking out its ecosystem.
Above all, Willa’s first priority is raising her children and having a lot of fun with them throughout the journey. One of her goals is to teach her sons to appreciate, respect, and protect nature while being active productive members of the community.
“The work I do benefits the lake I love and my community," she said. "And in the short and long run, my children benefit as well."
The usual questions:
What is your first memory of Lake Hopatcong?
"I remember being very impressed with the lake when I was in college. My sister bought a house here on the lake. I came to visit and we loaded up the boat with our girlfriends and had a blast."
What is your favorite lake destination?
"The Lify island rope swing. We go over there by boat with our boys and it is so much fun swinging out over the lake. There was another good one over near the state park but it’s gone now."
Describe your perfect summer lake day.
"A great day is getting up very early, around 6am, to go wake boarding with my husband and sons and then coming back to my porch overlooking the lake, for coffee and to read the paper. Later we’d load up the cooler and the patio boat and cruise around the lake, giving a tour to guests while pointing out the highlights of the lake. Kayaking would also be part of the day. There is no better way to appreciate the lake and see new and different sights than by kayaking. As much of a cliché as it sounds, you really do become one with the lake in a kayak."