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~shared by J. Ranner
I'm a sucker for a good power rock ballad. And I'm a sucker for Journey. So you can bet when the song "Faithfully" hit my eardrums last evening on my ride home, the music was cranked and I suddenly became Steve Perry (in my mind, at least.)
In my favorite line of the song, Perry belts out the line "I get the joy of rediscovering you." Although being apart from what you love isn't easy, it's all that much better when you reunite with that someone (or something).
Whether it is your first stay with us or you have lost count over years of loyal visits, we find the best way to keep our guests happy- and to raise the bar of our own excellence- is to constantly keep things fresh, new and exciting! After all, we would very much like to maintain our title of #1 Hotel for Families in America in 2016.
The summer of 2015 is no exception.
In addition to several highlighted events already shared in the first part of this blog, here are even MORE reasons why the summer of 2015 could possibly be the best summer in Woodloch's 57 year history!
FRIGHT. NIGHT. Are you feeling brave? In the spirit of our beloved Haunted Hayrides, we've decided to host our first ever "Fright Nights" during Monday evenings in the summer. Except there are no wagons to protect you. Traverse our walk-thru Horror-ble trail, full of all sorts of scares... there's a bonfire, acoustic guitar music and tailgate games at the other end. IF you make it through.
Don't forget to pack your lightsaber and sonic screwdriver. You're going to need them in order to properly tackle our all-new "Sci-Fi Games" at our athletic field! You'll find yourself protecting the human race from the cyber threat of SkyNet, journeying through space and time in a big blue box and becoming one in the ways of the Force. Assemble a dream team and Monday mornings in the summertime!
On with the show. Two of Woodloch's most popular shows have been given an overhaul for 2015. Our Broadway-style theme show (Wednesdays and Satudays) salutes the most popular avenues and roads in the country as "Woodloch Travels Down the Streets of America." Our comedic staff show (offered on Friday evenings starting in July) puts a lovingly revises our nation's important moments as "Woodloch Rewrites History!"
And after the show, it's the AFTER PARTY. In the spirit of continuing our theme show fun long after the final curtain, be sure to catch our late-night event in the North Lodge with our "Takin' it to the Streets" party! Games, dancing, music, prizes and more await you!
I'll take "SWORDS" for $400, Alex. Think you're the brainiest bunch of them all? Put your money where your mouth is with our newest trivia game, JEOPARDY, adjusted and modified for big groups to all compete!
The Kan CAN. All of those days playing around on the quad between classes are about to pay off- Woodloch is going to be offering the beloved game of KAN JAM. We've used it before in our Olympics and our guests just can't seem to get enough of it, so we're going to be playing tournaments for the elusive Woodloch gold medal all summer long! Speaking of frisbees, there's a new Woodloch game in town! Combining elements of "Ultimate Frisbee" and our tremendously popular "2-Base Kickball" games comes our brand new "FRISBEE BASEBALL" contest. Practice throwing, catching AND running so you're ready to tackle this one during your summer stay!
"I volunteer as tribute." Katniss Everdeen holds a very special place in our hearts! That's why our brand new ARCHERY TAG contests are so much fun! Square off against the opposition with foam tipped arrows in a game that combines archery and dodgeball- may the odds be ever in your favor!
A river runs through it. The Upper Delaware, to be precise! We've teamed up with the mountain men at Northeast Wilderness Experience to bring our guests a REAL taste of the great outdoors with kayak excursions down the Delaware River. Break free for a few hours and do some rolling... rolling... rolling on the river.
Splish. Splash. Maybe Mother Nature is being a little moody. Or perhaps you have been listening to R.E.M. and want to do a little "nightswimming." Our newly remodeled indoor pool complex addresses all of those needs! After months of repair and remodeling, she's back online and better than ever- come check it out!
What's old is NEW again. On top of all of the brand new events and games we are offering this year, all of our perennial favorites- Scavenger Hunt, Family Double Dare, Pool Games, Olympics, Amazing Race and more- have all been revamped and redesigned to bring more smiles and laughs to our guests for the summer.
Our resort is ready. Our team is ready. The question is... are YOU ready for all of the adventure and good times that are to be had this year? We look forward to seeing all of your beautiful smiling faces in the coming weeks!
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~shared by J. Ranner
"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees... I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Maybe I'm just getting old and more sensitive to the seasons. But after the record setting winter we had this past year, I think I speak for the masses when I say blue skies, blossoming trees and rays of sunshine on our shoulders are a more than welcome sight! The smell of grills firing up, the hum of boat engines on lakes and the cheerful laughter of kids splashing around pools are slowly but surely ushering in the summer of 2015.
The family and staff at Woodloch are looking forward to making this summer the best in our 57 year history. While our guests can look forward to enjoying many of the traditional games, activities, food and entertainment that have become staples of their family vacations, we are very excited to share some BRAND NEW reasons to come visit us this summer!
So... without further adieu...
1. An event 65 million years in the making... Hold on to your butts... and get ready for our all-new "JURASSIC LOCH" theme games at the lake. A tribute to one of our favorite movies of all time, we will be meeting aside the lake every Wednesday in the summer as we track raptors, scale fences, complete in-GEN scientific puzzles and even unleash our inner beast with a dino egg feast. Of course... we spared no expense!
2. Our Rock N' Roll Carnival. We're not ashamed to admit it- we really LOVE music here. From playing "Name That Tune" to watching live bands during the summer, we just can't get enough of it. That's why we're happy to say our brand new carnival (Mondays in the summer) is themed around all sorts of music! Showcase your Bonham-esque drumming, rock a mean air guitar, send the Beatles on a magical journey on their Yellow Submarine and profess your love for the musicals with Broadway trivia. It's going to... rock.
3. It's alright to play with your food. It all started with a few cupcakes. Then we started modeling breakfast foods. We've evolved our kitchen based battles to take on some sugary sweets with our brand new "Dessert Wars." Cookies, brownies, cream puffs, cannoli and more will be at your disposal- are you up to outfoxing and outcrafting the competition?
4. Speaking of delicious things to eat... Woodloch is adding a few new dishes to our menu for this summer- as chosen by our Woodloch guests! We tabulated the votes a few weeks back for our "Foodie Weekend" and are adding Country Potato Soup, Shrimply Devine Pasta and Chocolate Mocha Mousse into the mix of selections offered for the summer. And there are a few other new options coming your way... but we'd like to surprise you with them!
5. Who DOESN'T want to be a millionaire? We've dug up some goodies from the days of TV past and resurrected the popular trivia game. Answer correctly, use your lifelines just right and maybe... just MAYBE... you might walk out of the game with a FREE Woodloch Weekend! And that's our FINAL ANSWER.
6. Woodloch's Late Night Brain Teasers. Late night fun for teens and adults awaits with our spin on the game of QUELF (if I knew what that stood for... I'd tell you.) It's a card game... and no matter what, you have to obey the card. Let's leave it at that- it should make for some very interesting nights this summer!
7. Comedy... on the fly! We're going to play it all by ear this summer as the great comic duo of Isaacs & Baker showcase their famous improv comic act. Family friendly, it's a night in our Nightclub in which almost anything can happen!
8. I have a story to tell you. Actually, I've got 6 of them! Join us out on the Front Lawn Wednesday in the summer for our brand new "Storybook Games." Based on all of the childhood books that we know and love, the games will put a fun spin these tales, relay style!
And that's not all.
We've got so many brand new things happening this summer that we just couldn't fit it all into one article! Stay tuned for PART 2... coming VERY soon! Until then...
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~shared by J. Ranner
We can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try.
There are plenty of beautiful things about Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains in the summertime. Sprawling forests. Various wildlife. Shimmering waters. By day, it’s simply “Paradise on Earth.”
Then the sun goes down. And we might as well be at Camp Crystal Lake.
Beautiful canopies now shield light from cascading onto the forest floors. Who knows exactly what (or who) is responsible for that rustling bush. Screeches and growls coming from all sorts of directions... it’s getting kind of nerve-wrecking.
So naturally, since we do LOVE our guests so much, we thought we’d have some fun with this.
We’re very excited to announce that for the first time EVER, Woodloch will be kicking off our brand new “FRIGHT NIGHTS” in July. Those brave enough to dare enter our HORROR-ble Trail will traverse a mile of “walk thru” scares and shenanigans. “Our Haunted Hayrides are always very popular in the fall,” says Joey Ranner, Social Director. “We thought we’d bring a smaller version of them to our summer guests who may not have had a chance to experience them yet.”
The first ever Fright Night will be an exciting conclusion to summer Mondays starting July 13th. The day will start with our brand new “Sci-Fi” games at the athletic field and continue with our brand new "Music Carnival" and “Dessert Wars.” As the sun sets, all ages are invited to our North Lodge lawn complete with a bonfire, petting zoo, tailgate games and live music for the evening. Of course, we encourage the brave and bold to head up to the trail and take the walk!
If you can’t catch our brand new fright nights, remember- we’ve already started plotting- err, I mean “planning” – our 2015 Haunted Hayrides. And I think I speak for all of us when I say it is an honor, a privilege and a joy being able to scare happy people on their vacations.
See you all in the woods…
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~shared by J. Ranner
You might not have it all together… but together, you have it ALL.
No matter who you are or what you have been through, it’s safe to say that once life begins, paths veer off in all sorts of different directions. Our experiences bring us to all different places for all sorts of different reasons, yet one thing will ALWAYS remain the same: your family (for better or worse).
Wherever we all branch out to, there’s no denying that everything eventually leads back to our roots.
Yet sometimes, as way leads on to way, we find ourselves going months, years and sometimes even decades without spending quality time with those most closely related to us. And in the process, you deny yourself a portion of your own identity. Your family is- and always WILL be- your best link to your own past, and also the most likely to stick with you through stormy seas in the future.
Thus, the appeal and need for multi-generational family reunions.
Of course, like everything worth doing in life, it’s going to take some good old fashioned WORK to make your reunion everything that it can and should be. Whether you are hosting a small gathering or swinging for the fences with 100+ relatives, know this from the get-go: you don’t have to do it all alone! You’re not the only one in the family (clearly) so you shouldn’t have the sole burden of arranging everything yourself. So before any decisions are made, form a Reunion Committee of sorts to split up the planning. We get the distinct feeling that you will thank yourself down the road.
And you know what? Since we feel like guests are a part of our “family” as well… we’re going to hook you up with a few helpful hints to make your reunion one for the ages.
First things first: establish date, location, and guest list– a seamless reunion is planned an awful lot like a wedding (hopefully at a substantially lower and divided cost), but approach it with that mentality. Broach the subject during a larger gathering (birthdays, anniversaries etc.) and get the ball in motion.
- DATE: For a large reunion (for argument sake, let’s say over 30 guests) we’d suggest planning a year or so in advance. That might seem like a large amount of time but in reality it really isn’t. Kids play sports. Uncle Marshall and Aunt Lilly are going to Italy in the spring. Cousin Eddie bought an RV and is going cross country for the holidays. You get the picture. Life happens and pinpointing an exact date is going to be a challenge. HOWEVER, it is imperative that once you find a date, you need to stick to your guns. In a perfect world, everyone would be able to attend, but we all know how that goes.
- GUESTS: Before any invitations are sent out at all, have a clear and defined list of guests. Are we making this a “Smiths Only” affair? Are we sticking with just Grandma Walton’s kids and grandkids? Or is the entire town of Hawley going to be invited? Take the time (with your helpful committee) and create an established guest list.
- LOCATION: A very large part of the success of your reunion rides on venue selection. Accommodations? Dining arrangements? Activities? Travel decisions? They ALL rely on where you decide to hold your event. (All of these decisions are streamlined when you book your reunion with us... just sayin'.)
Again, we live in a world that is far from perfect, so with venue comes the consideration of costs. Is it feasible to have a relative host the event at their home? Might you seek out a vacation home or possibly a resort to host your affair? Are you going to board a plane and go all out in Tahiti? All families are different, and there are pros and cons to each scenario. You need to talk about this, come up with a concrete plan and book.
Once all of these decisions have been made, draft up some save the date invites and send them in the mail. Coordinate group emails and group chats on Facebook to keep everyone in the loop on things.
Tips from the Pros
We’ve hosted our share of family reunions (big & small with all sorts of “families”) and we’ve learned a few things along the way.
Plan… but don’t overplan. While it certainly is important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time together, you just might make people hate you by becoming a micro-manger. Be flexible and acknowledge the fact that you’re working with a diverse group with diverse interests. It’s OK to split up for portions of your event. We suggest publishing an activity sheet that lays out the imperative must-attend events and letting family members choose how to use their time.
Besides, we all know that Mother Nature will do whatever she pleases, so things might have to vary. Don’t stress- take it as it comes and enjoy the moments. Adults may wish to consider babysitting services at some point- adults need to unwind and be with just “grown ups” for a night or two. Along those lines, consider hiring a photographer to capture candid moments and group portraits. Money well spent.
- Consider limitations. They come in various forms, but mainly consider physical and dietary issues your family members may have. Ski mountain retreats are beautiful, but it would be somewhat sad to have a good portion of your family not be able to traverse the hills because of walking disabilities. Furthermore, there’s nothing more annoying like booking a great restaurant and finding out your sweet mother can’t enjoy a meal due to lack of gluten-free options. Issues like this are easier to deal with early in the process than they are at that moment!
- Remember WHY you are there. In the mix of all the planning, banter, back and forth and traveling, sometimes the reasons are unfortunately lost. You are there to spend good quality time with those you hold to be important in life- make the most of it. Ditch the cell phones, laptops and tablets- trust me, they will be there when you return back to life as usual. Vacations are best spent wireless.
- Catch up with your relatives. Now is the PERFECT time for some of the younger family members to hear stories from Grandma and Grandpa (possibly embarrassing ones about their parents… those are always good). Maybe Uncle Jesse and his college bound niece get to have a good heart to heart, chock full of advice that will help her in the coming year. These little moments, as trivial as they might seem at the time, are going to be talked about and remembered for years to come. Embrace them.
Global Family Reunion!
We hope this helps you a bit on planning a fantastic family reunion. With that in mind, Woodloch is very pleased to announce that we will be attending this year’s “Global Family Reunion” June 6th, 2015 in Queens, NY. It’s the biggest, most extraordinary and most inclusive family reunion in history. Come meet fascinating cousins you never knew you had — and learn about how we are building a Family Tree of the entire Human Race. Guests include Dr. Oz, performing artist Lisa Loeb, Ted Allen of The Food Network and renowned illusionist David Blaine!
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~ Shared by J. Ranner
You've all seen the pictures. A friend of yours who loves the Beatles travels to London and low and behold, a picture is snapped of him crossing Abbey Road. Your cousin Sally heads to LA on a business trip and sure enough is captured on film on next to Charlie Chaplin's star on Hollywoods "Walk of Fame." And we all know someone who has traveled to Italy and single handedly supported the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
No matter where you travel to, it's nice to know that there are trademark sights and landmarks that provide the perfect photo opportunities to document your escape. And while Paul McCartney has never stayed with us, and all of our buildings are structurally sound, I like to think that in the magical universe of "Woodloch Land," we have our own little features that define us and have provided families with awesome locations for that ever important group photo for the past 55 years.
So, I've taken the liberty of compiling a list of "10 Pretty Awesome Photo Ops at Woodloch Pines Resort."
1. Fisherman- He's one of the first "personalities" you'll run into upon your arrival to Woodloch! Situated right outside our main registration desk, the classic fisherman has seen many generations of families grow up here at Woodloch. Year after year, he stays in the same spot; the fish must still be biting.
2. A photo with ___________ by the Front Desk- You never know who you might run into as you check in for your vacation experience at Woodloch. It might be an old friend, a favorite staff member, JK, or depending on the season, Frankenstein, the Easter Bunny, or Jolly Old Saint Nick! Be ready for anything...
3. Main Lobby Fireplace - Our resort has grown a bit since opening its doors in 1958 (understatement), but the main lobby fireplace has been a staple from the get go. Crackling fires burn throughout the winter, but our fireplace is the perfect place for your family to assemble for a portrait that says "we're classy . . . but here to party."
4. Fishing Dock - To me, when I get a spare moment to soak it in, Lake Teedyuskung is breathtakingly beautiful, and any picture you take is bound to be an instant classic. However, migrate over to our small fishing dock next to the Tea House dock for a full beautiful view of the lake, passing boats, and of course all those "skilled" water skiiers.
5. Waterslide- And while we're down on the lake, let's talk "action" shots. While there's nothing more adorable than watching your kids construct sand castles, it's hard to compete with the joyous smiles our guests share with us as they plummet down our waterslide!
6. The Inn Waterfront- Have you been plotting- I mean "planning"- your fairytale wedding since you were young? If so, I'd say there's an 83% chance you dreamed that it would take place at the Inn waterfront, even if you've never seen it before in your life. The tranquil water and astounding views will not only stir emotions in the manliest of men but also provide a pristine canvas for all of those lovely wedding photographs!
7. Zipline- There's nothing like capturing your loved ones with an expression of pure enjoyment - or fear - in their eyes. Both are equally possible thanks to Woodloch's 600-foot Eagle Eye Zipline. Snap a shot as they zoom by at over 35 mph through the trees or as they free fall from our Tarzan Swing! Memories...
8. Climbing Wall- Yodel-ay-hee-hoo! Do you have what it takes to scale 30 feet vertically to the summit of Woodloch's climbing wall? If so, why not immortalize the moment with a proper photograph (taken from the ground, of course).
9. Theme Night- Staying with us on a Wednesday or Saturday night? You will regret missing the spectacle of Theme Night!
As you arrive for dinner, snap a quick shot with our characters in the traditional greeting line, then catch a new set of characters parade through on parade!
10. The Deer That Never Moves- Looking to spot some wildlife, but keep coming up short? Fear not, we've found a solution to this issue! Situated underneath a tree on our main lawn is a deer that never moves. A nice silver medal to actually having to track down wildlife to film, this ceramic creature will ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart, and I have a feeling others will agree with me!
AND THE MOST IMPORTANT PHOTO OPS OF ALL...
.... are the ones that you create with the people you love most in the world! It doesn't have to be at a certain place or a certain time. Remember, a photograph captures a moment and immortalizes all of the feelings so that you can take them with you year-round! Plan as you might, the best pictures will set themselves up when you least expect it! And that's a BEAUTIFUL thing.
**Immortalize and share your best photos with us- you can follow and tag us on Instagram (@Woodloch) or hit us up on Twitter (also @Woodloch)... who knows, we might even repost our favorites to share with ALL of our friends!
WE'D LOVE TO KNOW- where are YOUR favorite photo spots? Comment below!
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~shared by J. Ranner
A person who feels appreciated will ALWAYS do more than what is expected.
Many moons ago, the enlightened troubadours simply known as "The New Radicals" taught me one of life's most important lessons- you only get what you give. I have to say that in almost every facet of my life thus far, this has been true. What you put into something will most definitely affect what you get out of it.
Imagine yourself (or perhaps you're already there) working day in and day out at a job in which you sense little to no appreciation is being sent your way for a job well-done. How long are you seriously going to consider staying there? I think most rational people would answer that with, "not long." For the most part, happy employees lead to happy customers. Happy customers lead to happy owners.
Perhaps that is why the Kiesendahl family is beaming. Every year, Woodloch takes the time to recognize the dedicated service of many of our employees during their Spring Appreciation Meeting. "Once temperatures warm up and spirits are starting to lift, we feel it's the perfect time to show gratitude for all that our employees do," says John Kiesendahl, owner. "We take tremendous pride in our staff and feel it's necessary to acknowledge what they bring to our business."
Over 160 of Woodloch's employees were recognized for at least 10 years of dedicated service- including 25 of them with at least 30 years of employment. Employees are given both gift certificates and golden nametags in recognition of their service. "All resorts have amenities, accommodations and food," says Kiesendahl. "The people associated with Woodloch have been, and always will be, Woodloch's most valuable asset." In an industry where employee turnovers are typically pretty high, Woodloch has maintained a significantly higher retention rate.
Additionally, Woodloch took the time to recognize two staff members for their yearly "Aunt Mary and Aunt Marge Award." This honor is bestowed upon two employees (one front of house, one behind the scenes) that routinely go above and beyond the call of duty to give Woodloch guests an outstanding vacation experience. This year's recipients were Wesley Halliday from the bar and Basilio Perez-Carrasco from grounds maintenance. "Both of these gentlemen showcase our tradition of warm hospitality day in and day out. I couldn't be more proud to call them a part of our team," says John. Both Wes and Basilio were rewarded with a stay at the resort so they, too, can enjoy "The Woodloch Experience." Afterwards, all employees were invited out to The Clubhouse at Woodloch Springs for dinner, drinks and dancing on a beautiful spring evening.
If all of this sounds appealing to you, then you are in luck. Our team is looking to expand and will be hosting an on-site Job Fair May 26th, 2015 from 2 to 5 PM at The Inn at Woodloch. Look your best, bring your resume and meet face to face with departments that are looking to hire. The resort, our brand new Market, The Boat House Restaurant and our sister property spa- The Lodge at Woodloch, will be conducting on site interviews, so be your best self! We look forward to seeing you!
Basilio & Wes - Recipients of 2015 "Aunt Mary & Marge" Award
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~shared by John Pillar and Jeff Hugaboom
Cue the David Bowie tune- ch-ch-changes are on the way at the Country Club at Woodloch Springs.
It all starts with personnel at the Clubhouse- we will have a few exciting additions to our golf team this year! Josh Deal has taken over the role of Head Professional and most of the daily operations duties. Josh had worked for us in 2012 & 2013 and was a perfect fit for us at Woodloch. His fun outgoing personality has left a lasting impression and we look forward to him providing outstanding service in all areas.
Prior to joining the team, Josh spent time as a PGA Apprentice at such well-respected clubs as New Haven Country Club in CT, Grayhawk Golf Club in AZ, and The Manor Golf and Country Club in GA. Josh is a Connecticut Native and a proud UCONN Alum. He looks forward to serving you this 2015 golf season!
Jason Kuiper will be joining the professional staff at Woodloch Springs as the Director of Instruction. His most recent position was at Orange Lake Resort as the Head Teaching Professional at The McCord Golf Academy as well as a Golf Operations Manager. He has been in that position since 2009 where he worked through the PGA program obtaining Class A membership in 2011.
His love for the game brought him into this industry in 2003 as he worked at Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in Pennsylvania. It was there that he took on different roles from service staff all the way up through teaching professional before moving to Florida in 2008. He decided to make golf his career after completing an undergraduate degree in Business Management from Millersville University in Lancaster, PA in 2006 and a Masters of Business Administration from Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA in 2008. He currently resides in Davenport, FL with his wife Lindsay and their dogs Eva and Chip.
Course wise, we are off to an exciting and challenging start to the 2015 golf season. Last fall we hired The George Ley Company to start a bunker renovation project on 9, 18, 8, 17 and 3. We focused on green side bunkers, fixing drainage, replacing sand, reshaping and removing sand traps. Removal and reshaping of the sand traps will not only improve the golf experience, it will grant the maintenance crew additional hours to focus on other areas of the course.
The winter was not kind to the northeast. Ice and cold temperatures resulted in injured greens from Philadelphia northward. The maintenance crew was proactive throughout the winter removing snow and melting ice with black sand. We were able to minimize but not prevent all damage to greens. Some greens have relatively small areas of damage or none at all, number twelve is heavily damaged. We have created a temporary green in order to minimize traffic and facilitate healing. The greens have been aerated and damaged areas have been seeded. We have ordered a topdressing sand specifically mixed to encourage recovery. The sand is mixed with dark organic material for heat absorption and water retention, and fertilizers to stimulate growth. In addition, twelve will be covered to further accelerate healing time, and will reopen as soon as possible. The chipping green was not aerated and will be used to patch damaged areas on the course. This process will start next week, and will make a big improvement to the damaged greens. With warm beautiful weather on the horizon, we anticipate a lightning quick return to pinnacle conditions.
Lastly, with the arrival of golf season comes the return of all those great tournaments. In addition to golfing with star athletes of tomorrow and paying homage to true American heroes, 2015 will feature a brand new tournament for both golf and soccer fans alike. Our first ever "Foot Golf Invitational" will be held Monday, June 29th. We are excited to host this one-of-a-kind event on our course!
Our entire team is excited to provide a season of new and entertaining golf events for the season and we hope you all participate in the FUN!
Here's to a great 2015 for everyone- see you on the links!
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~shared by J. Ranner
I think George S Patton, one of our nation's greatest military leaders, said it best: "Americans love a winner... Americans play to win all the time." Which is certainly true if you really think about it. Why do we go nuts when our team wins the Super Bowl? Why does it feel so good to finally land that big promotion you've been working towards? Or mustering the courage to ask that cute girl out... and getting her to say yes? Yup, tackling challenges and emerging out the other side victorious feels really, REALLY good.
Needless to say, "winning" takes on all sorts of forms. It's not necessarily always about getting that trophy or leaving everyone else behind in the dust. Sometimes, "winning" in life simply means putting your best foot forward, becoming (or at least trying to become) the best person you can be, and leaving the world off as a better place than you did when you got here. Based on my life experiences, the people I've met and the way things have unfolded, that's what "winning" has come to mean to me.
Many years ago, a man named Chuck Russell visited our resort every year on his family vacation from long distances- much like many of you fine folks continue to do to this day. And, in short, Chuck was a special kind of man. "He was EVERYWHERE," says Joey Ranner, Activities Director. "Chuck quickly developed a reputation for being 'that guy'- you know, the one that everybody seemed to flock to because he was the life of the party. He whistled, he cheered and had a great time no matter what." Though he loved to win (again, who DOESN'T?), regardless of the outcome Chuck was quick to shake hands in the true spirit of Woodloch sportsmanship. Chuck made a lot of new friends and created countless memories with every vacation he took.
Sadly, Chuck lost a very rough battle with cancer in 1995. The entire Woodloch Family was devestated by the loss of Chuck. "He was just a great guy," says Joey Ranner. "We realized fairly quickly that we wanted to find a way to not only remember Chuck but also the wonderful spirit of the Woodloch games that he embodied." Thus, we established "The Chuck Russell Award." During each of our 9 weeks of summer, we would select one individual who seemed to carry the torch that Chuck ignited and recognize them at our weekly "Awards Ceremony" in the Nightclub. "It was a bittersweet kind of thing," says Ranner. "We all truly missed Chuck, but it was rather warming to see so many of our guests keep that fire alive."
20 years have passed since our first Chuck Russell Award winners were recognized... so we thought we'd do what we at Woodloch do best: reunite everyone for some FUN.
From April 24th-26th, Woodloch invited all of our past Chuck Russell winners up for a little reunion. After a weekend filled with all of our favorite events including "Name That Tune," Horse Races and Family Olympics, our crowds migrated to the Nightclub for a celebration. "Not only was Woodloch holding their 57th Anniversary, but we were celebrating 20 years of Chuck Russell recipients," says John Kiesendahl, owner. "We're blessed and have a lot to celebrate."
Following a video tribute to Chuck and 180 past Chuck Russell winners, everyone raised their champagne glasses in memory of Chuck, in celebration of friends that we have, and all the memories to come. In total, 65 past winners joined us on stage for a group shot. We also inducted an "honorary" member into the Chuck Russell class. Mr. Bill Wolf has visited Woodloch over 204 times (more than ANY other guest!) and always follows the action. "Bill was a police officer working the beat and would visit my dad's luncheonette before my family bought Woodloch," says John. "Right from the beginning, Bill was there visiting us."
Honored by this award, Bill simply replied, "I wish I had more money at the time. I could have been a partner!"
Bill & Mary Wolf
The weekend couldn't have been more picture perfect for both guests and staff alike. "So many smiles and laughs," says Joey Ranner. "I know that right now, Chuck sees all that this has become and is smiling right back at us."
"We are so blessed with loyal guests that come back year after year, and create a culture that you just can't beat," says John. "They make a spirit of Woodloch Pines where people come for the first time, and they make it cotagious. Our guests and their wonderful spirits truly make Woodloch what it is."
Eddie Russell & Family
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~Shared by J. Ranner
If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Understood. I'm a writer, and not a chef. I will leave that work to the professionals. Which is good, considering the Woodloch culinary team is among the best in the Poconos.
The dining experience at Woodloch has been a big part of our identity since we opened our doors back in 1958. Early visitors enjoyed many German and Italian dishes along with traditional comfort foods. And of course, our seafood smorgasbord... jumbo shrimp, crab legs and everything else one could ask for attractively displayed and simply begging to be enjoyed. Flash forward to 2015- while we still enjoy many of those classic dishes, as tastes evolve and trends shift, so must we! Menus at our resort, Grille Room, the Boat House Restaurant and TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch are constantly working to up their game and give guests the best possible dining experience.
So we thought we'd have a little fun with them.
We held a special "Foodie Weekend" April 17th - 19th, featuring wine classes, chocolate making, special cooking demonstrations and the marquee event, our "Battle of the Kitchens."
"We decided to pit all 5 of our kitchens against each other for a little friendly competition... after all, that is what Woodloch is ALL about!" says Bobby Kiesendahl, head of food service here at Woodloch. "We decided to have each kitchen prepare a signature soup, pasta and dessert. The best dish- as chosen by our guests, will be featured on our new summer menus.
After a little bit of coaxing (i.e. opening our Night Club doors), well over a hundred "taste-testers" set out to sample, assess, and ultimately vote on their favorite dishes. Executive Chef Stevan Sundberg kept a watchful eye over both kitchens and diners alike. "This is great. A friendly contest like this really sparks culinary creativity and rivalry- needless to say, everyone wins."
When all was said and done, results were as follows:
BEST SOUP: "Country Potato Soup" by THE MAIN KITCHEN. It was a creamy soup with a Ramp Pesto Garnish. Simple, but a homerun nonetheless.
BEST PASTA: "Shrimply Devine" also by THE MAIN KITCHEN. Campanelli with sauteed shrimp, garlic, spinach and basil. Not surprising that a pasta with shrimp flair takes the gold at Woodloch!
BEST DESSERT: "Cafe Mocha Mousse" by THE GRILLE ROOM at Woodloch Springs. Homemade cappuccino mousse with fresh whipped cream, cocoa powder and chocolate grafate'. Coffee and chocolate? That's the stuff DREAMS are made of.
BEST OVERALL: THE MAIN KITCHEN. Woodloch's oldest kitchen holds off the "youngsters" for this year... but they've got a bullseye on their backs now. "Our chefs are just as competitive as our guests," says Steve. "You know next year, the other kitchens will pull out all of the stops in order to take the trophy home. There's nothing quite like bragging rights."
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“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.”
- U.S. Navy SEALS motto
Football fans out there have hit a lull. It’s the offseason- eyes are glued to the NFL network watching free agency tickers and prospects working out at the combine. This is what I’ve come to perceive as “desperation.” Anything to get our “fix.”
Me? I like to reminisce and stroll down memory lane. Hot off the heels of their 4th Super Bowl win, my mind goes back to the day when the New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl. The year was 2002, and prior to that, players were introduced one by one as they took center stage in the year’s biggest sporting event. In an act of originality (some might say, “defiance”), the Pats chose to be introduced as “a team” as they stormed the field. At the time, my brother said, “Game over, man.” And he was right. The team went on to claim a HUGE underdog victory and thus, a dynasty was born.
I never cease to be amazed by what true teamwork can accomplish. Pick an objective, dedicate yourselves, never give up and anything is possible. Even tackling diseases. For the second straight year, Woodloch is very pleased to announce that it once again partnering with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to work to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes. We will be hosting our second "Carnival for a Cause" weekend May 1st - 3rd, 2015.
JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, policy influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D.
We created a connection with JDRF through Joey Ranner, our Social and Activities Director. His granddaughter, Jillian, was diagnosed with T1D when she was younger. “Speaking with guests and friends about her condition, I realized how widespread it was and wanted to find a way to help,” says Ranner. “Working together with JDRF and so many friends, we were able to bring a fundraising effort to fruition last year, and the response was incredible.”
In 2014, a collaboration of Woodloch guests, friends, local business partners and staff were able to raise over $15,000 for JDRF- roughly, triple our original expectations! Perhaps it is a result of our unconventional fundraising tactics- many of which we are giving another go in 2015. Planned events include:
- A “Polar Plunge” into the still ice laden Lake Teedyuskung by the Kiesendahl Family, who own the resort. We are hoping to raise $2,000 by April 15th for this to happen… what better way to spend some of your tax refund?
- A guest-staff “Dance-A-Thon” for Woodloch prizes
- A Rivalry Olympics between local high schools
- A Karate “Break-A-Board-A-Thon” featuring local students from Elite Martial Arts Institute
- Our famous “Midway Carnival” featuring games, snacks, balloon animals, magicians, inflatable bounce houses and more (in other words, “THE BEST DAY EVER”).
A portion of the proceeds from this weekend- as well as ALL of the proceeds from our fundraising events, will be donated to JDRF. This year, we have upped our expectations to raise $25,000- but we need your help.
“We have lofty goals,” says Ranner, “but certainly not unattainable. I know what we’re capable of when we work together. The Woodloch family, our guests and all of our friends LOVE a good challenge and are ready to make things happen.”
Highlights from the 2014 "Polar Plunge".... BRRRR!
Karate students from Elite Martial Arts GETTING IT DONE!
Our 2014 "Dance-A-Thon" Team... proud to call them our own!