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Health Benefits of Vacation - Part 1

  
  
  
  
  
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 family reunions, golf resort

~shared by J. Ranner

One of the most important lessons I've learned growing up was learning the distance between a "need" and a "want." When you're younger, it takes a few experiences to learn why purchasing a car is more worthwhile than a jet pack (in most cases, anyways). After years and my share of ridiculous purchases, I like to think that I can fairly assess the difference between things I need and things I would just like to have, as most adults would.

I'm here to tell you that adults can still be wrong . . . especially when it comes to vacationing.

While some of us make vacationing a routine habit, others are not as easily persuaded. There's always "better" ways to spend the time and resources, right? And that's where the guilt comes in. 

Which, if the medical research serves us correctly, is the complete wrong way to look at things. Don't get me wrong; I'm a proud American, and I know that we have things good in this country because of a lot of HARD WORK.  Yet at some point, the "workaholism" turns toxic. Shying away from taking a break will slowly but surely poison your body, mind, and relationships.

And with that, your life may start to suffer.

So let's start with the basic foundations of happiness: feeling alright.  If you were to survey a large group of people, I think you would find that the number one reason people take a vacation or break of any sort is to relive stress, the silent killer.

Effect of stress on health

 

By deciding to take a vacation, you are given the opportunity to leave your problems at home, look at things objectively in a comforting yet different environment

Vacation can improve cardiovascular health with lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Men who skipped vacations for five consecutive years or more were 30% more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least one week of vacation each year, according to Dr. Glenn Braunstein of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Similar studies have reached the same conclusion for women. Further, an annual vacation can cut the risk of heart disease by up to 50%.

Lower stress levels may be linked to slower “aging.” Your chromosomes are much like a length of rope; the more turmoil in your life, the strands start to fray and shorten, leading to accelerated outward signs of aging. When you see someone who looks haggard and old, especially at a young age, it’s a telltale sign of a stressful life. Thus making that effort to vacation at least once a year can keep you looking and feeling good.

And of course, vacationing has been linked to better sleep habits, and we ALL can benefit with more sleep!

These are just a few examples of how vacations can benefit your physical well-being. And guess what- there are even more advantages yet! Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out all of the great specials that Woodloch as to offer! 

 

 

 

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A Leaf Peeper’s Paradise in the Pocono Mountains

  
  
  
  
  
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Woodloch's All Inclusive Family Resort in the Poconos: An Autumn Getaway Ideal for Leaf Peeping

Leaf Peeper. noun. Refers to a person, esp. a tourist, who takes pleasure in viewing fall foliage.

It’s a thing, we swear. In the likely chance you haven’t heard of it check out this blog on Squidoo offering a list of top peeping destinations. (We’re not just saying that because we made top 10 either.)

So now that we’ve established Leaf Peeping is a thing you’re probably asking yourself "When is the best time to see fall colors in the Pocono Mountains?"

The Answer: Early October. Depending on summer weather, the leaves in the Pocono Mountains begin changing mid to late September and are in full color as early as the first week in October! VisitPA.com does a great job of monitoring and reporting the fall foliage throughout the season.


Travel just 95 miles from NYC through scenic mountain tops, winding river side views, and tree-shaded flames of orange to our richly colored outdoor activities and stunning lakeside amenities, Woodloch offers an array of ways to experience autumn.

So if you’re anxiously awaiting this year’s display of reds, oranges, and yellows look no further than Woodloch Resort in the Pocono Mountains… after all a true peeper couldn’t resist soaring through the trees on our 600ft zipline, just saying.

 Autumn in the Pocono Mountains

 

Check out The Pocono Mountain’s Leaf Peeping Board on Pintrest!

There's No "Cooler" Place to Spend Your Summer Than at Woodloch!

  
  
  
  
  
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~ Shared by J. Ranner

For the past week, it seems no matter where you've traveled to for Independence Day, a crazy heat wave has taken the nation by storm. And there's a perfectly rational scientific explanation for all of this: it's JULY. 

While folks at home are cranking up their A/C units seeking solace in the shade, vacationers at Woodloch should be willing and ready to embrace the heat. With so many ways to stay cool on a hot summer day, your biggest concern will be whether or not to order another pina colada (an easy YES for me). Indeed, Woodloch has three key locations that are always chill, no matter what the thermometer reads.

First and foremost, behold the power of the great Lake Teedyuskung! Our spring-fed lake is filled to the brim with clean water. It's ready for you to perfect your cannon-ball form! Thrill seekers can rejoice over the options for both waterskiing and our waterslide. Or if you prefer to stay dry, sailboats, paddleboats, kayaks and scenic boatrides are viable options. It's not a stretch to say that you can easily stay situated at our lake from sunrise to sunset on any given summer day.

Next, nestled against a picturesque wooded Pennsylvania backdrop, lies our bumper boat facility. This heat-conquering amenity marries good old-fashioned bumper cars with the element of water, and the results couldn't be better! Not only will cool water splash onto your friends and family as your boats collide, but each machine includes a mounted water gun for soaking from a distance! No matter your age, you are bound to leave with a smile!

Perhaps the most exciting outdoor cooling amenity for 2013 is our pool facility. Along with our outdoor kiddie splash park (which adults have also been spotted enjoying), this year brings a complete facelift to our outdoor pool! The pool deck has recently been resurfaced and the pool has been re-tiled. On top of that, there is a brand new pool bar featuring fantastic new sandwiches, salads and snacks as well as your favorite summertime cocktails. Relieve the stress of a tough day of Pool Games in the brand new outdoor hot tub! And just in case we happen to get a little bit of moisture that falls from the sky (we don't use the "R" word here), remember that our indoor pool stays open!

The sun is shining, and with good fortune it will throughout the whole summer. You owe it to yourself to take that refreshing dip into the lake . . . so what are you waiting for? 

:)

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Woodloch Takes You "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" this Summer!

  
  
  
  
  
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girlfriend getaways, travel deals

~Shared by J. Ranner

As I start my 15th year of employment at Woodloch Pines Resort (how time flies), time after time I’ve heard guests simply refer to the resort as “HOME.”

And as a sweet Midwestern girl with ruby red slippers once said, “There’s no place like home.”

How fitting, then, that during Wednesday mornings throughout the summer of 2013, you will be whisked away by a whirlwind of fun with our all-new “Oz” games by the lake. “It’s timeless, really. The movie and the book offer a great story to all ages and tastes,” says Social Director (and “Man Behind the Curtain”) Joey Ranner. “So why not incorporate the love that we share into some great games?”

In case you are a Woodloch rookie, Wednesdays in the summer host a new type of theme game on the shores of Lake Teedyuskung every year.  In the past, we’ve pushed the adrenaline with “Fear Factor,” saluted Hollywood’s biggest movies with our “Blockbuster Games” and even paid tribute to real-life heroes with our “Firefighter Games” and “Police Games.”

Planning for this year’s festivities started months ago. Since then, the Woodloch team has been had at work trying to get things just right. “We either go big or don’t go at all,” says Ranner. “With every game that we do, things have to be new, they have to look good, and most importantly, they have to be FUN.” After months of brainstorming, drafting, and ultimately crafting  the new games, “Oz” is ready for its summer run.

So to shake things up, this year’s games will follow the Yellow Brick Road to great times with family and friends.  The Social Staff have crafted 6 unique relay events that take elements from the beloved movies and add the thrill of competition. This year, guests can expect:

  • Working together to pave a Yellow Brick Road of your own
  • Helping the Scarecrow put himself back together again
  • Using the natural resources of the lake to bring justice to that Wicked Witch…
  • Tracking down ruby red shoes…
  • Flying high with bellman monkeys
  • Enjoying delicious Oz treats with “munchkins!”

And it simply wouldn’t be our Theme Games without a little bit of flair. The Social Staff will be running these games in the full costumes of your favorite Oz characters- but that’s all we will say about that.

So when you do click your heels three times this summer, you’ll be magically transported somewhere over the rainbow to the Emerald City of Woodloch

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One Woodloch Employee's Very Special Father's Day Wish

  
  
  
  
  
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~Shared by Tammy Compton

"My father means the world to me. I can’t imagine my life without him."

There's no mistaking the love that Colleen Mitchell holds for her family, especially her dad. Soon to be 64, Glenn Mitchell will blow out his birthday candles the day after Father's Day. But then again, every day is Father's Day for the Mitchell family. Every day is a gift from God as Glenn awaits a much needed heart transplant.

colleen and dad
"My family has been through a hard time, but what family hasn't,” Colleen shared. “When my mother was in labor with me, my father was in another hospital with my brother. My brother had a very rare cancer which is called Burkitt's Lymphoma. At the time, one out of a million was diagnosed with this horrible disease. My brother was two-years-old when he passed away in my father's arms, a week after I was born.”

"Ever since I took my first breath into this big huge world, my father has been my protector. The perfect saying is, "I am 'Daddy's Little Girl.'" I was very lucky to be born into such an amazing family. My father is one who I look up to for everything. We call him Mr. Encyclopedia. Any question you have, he knows the answer! There has not been a moment where we could stump him on a question. My father is a very strong man - a fighter - a person who doesn't quit. Give him a task and he will accomplish it and never go down without a fight."

"My father has taught me so many things throughout my life. He was always by my side: teaching me how to swim (I love the water, I was a little water bug); teaching me how to drive; going on college tours, helping me to pick the right university; and helping me land the perfect job. He pushed me through everything in my life. If it wasn't for him, I don't know where I would be today.

colleen kids
"My first date was with my current boyfriend Kenny, which was back in the summer of 2007. When my father did meet him for the first time, he drilled him with the 20-questions game. My father does that with everyone; he loves talking and could talk to you for days about anything. He is a very down-to-earth type of guy.”

The best advice he's ever given her? "Never give up, never start a task without finishing it. Always stay positive and most importantly, if you want something in life, you have to go out and work for it," Colleen said.

When it comes to things that make her laugh about her dad, Colleen says it's definitely his crazy endearing personality. "You never know what's going to come out of his mouth next. I definitely see my dad in myself by the way I talk and certain things I do. I realize I act just like him."

"Recently, back in January, my dad's health went downhill. He was at a hardware store with my brother and blacked out. My brother helped him slowly to the ground. He had arrhythmia, which is a problem with the rate/rhythm of the heart beat. Thankfully, he has a defibrillator that was put in three years ago that saved his life," Colleen said. 

A trip to the hospital found Glenn deciding to update his defibrillator. "The new defibrillator would connect on both sides of the heart," Colleen explained. "He went through the surgery on a Friday. Saturday he was released from the hospital. That evening is when he went completely downhill. My family from New York had left after dinner. My father was on all new medication; he had two more pills to take that evening. No more than 10 minutes after, my brother heard gurgling. He ran to my father, and I hurried behind him shortly after.

"When I walked into the room, I saw my brother behind my dad, holding his body on the bed. My father's face was drooping. He was slurring his words and drooling. I knew this night was going to be bad. Scared completely, I frantically called 9-1-1," Colleen remembered.

Tests at the hospital revealed a blood clot on the right side of his brain. He was having a stroke. Life-flighted to Lehigh Valley Hospital, he underwent emergency surgery to remove 90 percent of the clot; the remaining 10 percent would dissolve on its own. Having suffered paralysis on the left side of his body, each day Glenn was improving. "He shocked everyone, even the doctors. My father is a fighter. With the love and power of prayer, he made it through," Colleen said.

father
He has overcome so much, yet the family knows he willl have to have a heart transplant in the future.

"His heart fraction level bounces from five to 15 percent which is not good. It should be about 55 to 70 percent," Colleen explained. The heart ejection fraction (EF) measures how well the heart is pumping out blood, and it helps to diagnose and track heart failure.

“If he gets a transplant, the first year survival rate is 90 percent, then up to 10 years it is about 70 percent,” Colleen said.  “To receive a heart, it costs about a million dollars. We’re hoping and praying insurance covers a large majority of it because at this point my dad is in critical condition.”

As of Tuesday, May 28, 2013, my father passed all the tests and was put on the waitlist for a heart. They’re praying for a miracle. “The two biggest concerns are getting a heart in time and praying the new heart does not reject,” she said.

Since her dad has O-negative blood, he can only receive a heart from an O- or O+ donor.  He will also require eight pints of O- blood for the surgery, which is the only type of blood he will be able to receive. "O negative blood is the rarest and can be difficult to get," Colleen said.

Please contact Colleen if you'd like to be considered as a blood donor.  

“My father means the world to me. I can’t imagine my life without him. He is the one I turn to for everything in my life. He calls me every night just to see how my day was and to make sure that I’m home safe. I’m grateful to still be blessed with his presence."

Colleen Mitchell is in the Management Trainee program at Woodloch Pines Resort and works at the Front desk and Reservations department.   

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Summer Dining Options at Woodloch

  
  
  
  
  
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So you did it! You’ve booked your summer vacation at Woodloch, one of the top 10 resorts in the world, and you’re gearing up for your Pocono Mountains summer vacation.  Now chances are at some point in between all of the fun-filled activities, endless amenities, and spectacular evening entertainment, you’re going to get hungry.  Whether your package includes two or three meals daily, or you’ve selected one of our guest homes and do not have meals included in your package, this guide will help you understand what options Woodloch has to offer in the summer.

Woodloch Pines Resort Options

The Main Dining Room at Woodloch Pines:  Woodloch’s classic family-style dining featuring at least four entrée options, soups, salads, and appetizers.  A children’s menu is always available.  This menu changes daily and is posted outside the entrance to the dining room.  Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The Inn at Woodloch:  Offers family-style dining along with an upgraded option to an à la carte menu for dinner.  Featuring at least four entrée options, soups, salads, and appetizers.  A children’s menu is always available.  Open daily for breakfast and dinner.

The North Lodge and Sports Bar:  Offers fun snack foods such as nachos, personal pizzas, hot pretzels, cold sandwiches, hot dogs, and salads.  Open daily from 11 AM to 2 AM. 

The Country Store:  Located at the Inn at Woodloch, the Country Store offers a full-service deli in addition to soups, salads, sandwiches, hoagies, fresh baked goods, and snacks.  They also carry grocery items: milk, eggs, etc.  Open seven days a week!

The Beach Bar and Grill:  Located by the beach, offers a full-service bar along with burgers, hot dogs, and chicken off the grill.  They also offer salads, nachos, snacks, and ice cream treats.  Open daily in the summer from 11 AM to 5 PM. 

The Outdoor Pool Bar:  Located at the Pool & Sports Complex, they offer wraps, salads, nachos, hot pretzels, hot dogs, fresh fruit, ice cream treats, and a full-service bar.  Open daily from 11 AM to 5 PM.

Woodloch Springs Options

The Grille Room and Awning:  Located in the Clubhouse at Woodloch Springs overlooking the golf course.  The Grille Room provides a casual atmosphere (TVs, tables, and bar) and features American fare with an a la carte menu for lunch and dinner.  Breakfast also available. 

The Vista and Terrace Dining Rooms:  Located in the Clubhouse at Woodloch Springs.  Offers a more formal atmosphere for dinner.  Menu options include seafood, steaks, pasta, veal, and fine wines.

The Lodge at Woodloch Options

Tree:  Located at our sister destination spa, Tree features organic, gourmet spa cuisine daily in a beautiful dining room overlooking the forest and a small private lake. 

Surrounding Area

The Boat House Restaurant:  A Woodloch-owned facility on Lake Wallenpaupack approximately 25 minutes away.  Serves American fare and seafood in a casual dining environment.  The Boat House is open daily for lunch and dinner.

Woodloch definitely has many options to suit your tastes.  If you would like more information or would like to make reservations, please call 570-685-8002.

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Woodloch's Famous Photo Ops!

  
  
  
  
  
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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."

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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.

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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!

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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). 

spa resorts9. 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. 

WE'D LOVE TO KNOW- where are YOUR favorite photo spots? Comment below!

;)

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Great New Reasons to visit Woodloch! PART III

  
  
  
  
  
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~Shared by J. Ranner

PART I

PART II

And so we've reached the epic conclusion of our three-part series on all the great reasons you have to visit us this summer. If the first two articles weren't enough to convince you that you need a Woodloch getaway this summer, as they say in the old country, "third time's the charm."

RECORD BREAKERS FIELD DAY- One of Woodloch's oldest and proudest traditions is based on good ol' fashioned competition. I see it in all of your eyes when you're vying for a gold medal at our Scavenger Hunt and everywhere else. And to be quite frank, I'm somewhat scared to stand in anyone's way.

So with that in mind, Woodloch will be presenting you with the chance to not only trump your family and friends but also every guest that walks through our doors this summer! Look for even more exciting details on this event coming soon... there's some EPIC news that we can't wait to share with you!

WOODLOCH'S GOT TALENT- Are you an aspiring songbird or musician? Are family and friends floored by your improv stand up comedy shows at gatherings? Or can you juggle cricket bats blindfolded? Whatever your "talent" - no matter how unique it may be - now is your chance to shine. This summer, we invite you to showcase your skills in front of an audience of 500 or more spectators! Start rehearsals and shake off that stagefright. This could be the big break you've been waiting for!

WOODLOCH KID'S CLUB ROOM- Our Boomer's Kids Club and activities keep expanding, and we needed some room to branch out! Starting this summer, many of our children's activities will be hosted in our new Kid's Club Room located just below our gymnasium and indoor playground. Events like arts & crafts, story hour and other various games now have a specially designated room!

A NIGHT AT THE COUNTRY FAIR- It's a warm summer's eve. You hear the sweet sound of an acoustic guitar and fiddle off in the distance singing along with the crickets. The delicious smell of funnel cake wafts through the soft night breeze. And in the company of your best friends, you meander throughout the midway without a care in the world. You're at a good old-fashioned country fair; Americana at its finest!

This summer, Monday nights will feature Woodloch's Country Fair. Enjoy all of those carnival  delicacies like candy apples, cotton candy and kettle corn. Bow to your partner and corners as we "dosey doe" to some great honkey tonk country music! And craft to your heart's delight! 

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HANG TEN! (kind of) - Paddleboards are becoming more popular and will now be available to our guests this summer at Woodloch! Paddleboards strengthen and stretch the muscles in your arms, torso and legs.  Guests will have to be 13 and older to use them. This will be a great new way for you to explore the tranquil waters of Lake Teedyuskung. Meanwhile, enjoy our extended walking path wrapping around the lake side of our outdoor pool!

BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER- Our Social Department at Woodloch absolutely LOVES a challenge. That's why our traditional guest favorite events like Olympics, Scavenger Hunt, Amazing Race and more will be given complete makeovers! So even if you think you're ahead of the game- believe me when I say you're not. We will challenge your minds and bodies and bring the fun level to unprecedented highs!

And so, with less than two months until Independece Day, may the countdown for the summer of 2013 commence! 

We simply cannot wait to share all of the fun, joy and laughter with you!

:)

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From the Poconos to Afghanistan: One Local Hero's Story

  
  
  
  
  
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~Shared by T. Compton

July can't come quickly enough for the Postrion family.

Currently serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Bryan Miller is due home July 1. Miller, who joined the Air Force straight out of high school, has already completed three overseas tours: Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, and now a return trip to Afghanistan.

The Blue Star Flag on Sam Postrion's lapel is a silent testament to her son's service. It's a pin that will remain in place until his safe return.

"It's an honor to know that he is serving our country and protecting people he does not know. But it's heartbreaking having him away and having him away for such long periods," Sam said.

A member of the Military Police, SSgt. Miller was deployed in January. "I am assisting Coalition Forces and NATO with giving over the primary role for Security Forces to the Afghanis," he said via email. Stateside, he's a member of law enforcement at Dover Airforce Base.

He sees a lot of positive things being accomplished in Kandahar. "The U.S. has been in Afghanistan since October 2001. The NATO program that I assist with directly impacts the growth of the Afghanistan Government. Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen the Afghani Military operate as it's own military force and limit Taliban influence around the area."

He's proud of his fellow patriots, their mission dedication, and unequaled brotherhood. "The best thing about my comrades is knowing without any hesitation they will have my back with any issue big or small," he said.

Family and friends also have his back here at home.

"I want him to know that I am behind him 100 percent with whatever he does in life, and I will always be there for him. Most important is that I want him to know how proud I am to be his mom," Sam said.

Asked if it's difficult to leave one's family behind, Miller said. "I get asked this question often; leaving your family for 8 months at a time is the hardest thing you’re faced with. Every second of the day, you think about your loved ones and when is the next time you will see them. Getting rocket attacked or engaged with small arms fire, you are prepared and trained for that problem. Being away from home, there is no briefing or field manual to help you overcome that sacrifice. I measure the 'is it worth it' by the sense of pride I get when I do my job and the people standing behind me."

Touching base with those back home helps ease the miles in between. "I try to Skype call every day, the time difference (8.5 hours) makes it hard, but technology is great! Facebook and Skype keep me in touch. Just the smallest conversation makes the hardest day easier."

"He always asks what's going on with us and around town, always checks to see how his Grandma is," said his mom. "We never end a conversation without me saying, 'I love you and miss you.'"  

As to what he misses the most back home, Miller shared, "I miss my soon to be wife, going on a motorcycle ride with her, and my English bulldog Bailey."

bailey

SSgt. Miller is due to be wed to his soulmate, Felicia Shannon, September 6, 2013, just two months after his return.

Is he proud of this woman by his side? "I am most certainly proud of her. She is working a full-time job, she is a full-time student (going for her dental hygiene degree), and also planning a wedding. The thing I love the most about her is her smile, and she never ceases to amaze me."

English writer G.K. Chesterton once wrote: "The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him."

Asked his take on that poem, Miller replied, "I most certainly agree with this poem. I have no hatred towards the enemy. I’m in Afghanistan now to protect the rights of my family and friends. It doesn’t matter if you live in Idaho or in the Helmand Providence of Southern Afghanistan. Our enemy believes in a cause and so do we. They are just willing to kill innocent people for that cause."

Asked if he believes in what he is doing, Miller replied, "This is a hard question for active duty military members to answer. Everyone has their own beliefs about what they are doing over here. Most of us keep those beliefs to ourselves, reason being is we don’t want to undermine our leaders appointed over us or our Government."

It's an answer that may well be laced with the loss of friends. "I live in a 10 x 15 room with a roommate. My day starts about 6:00 AM every morning with a little organized physical fitness. I report into work by 7:30 AM. I work Monday through Thursday (to include Saturdays) 7:30 to 6:00pm. Friday and Sunday are my half days; I have a report time of 12:00 to 6:00 PM. The unbearable moments are so sporadic that they sneak up on you. For example, every day I walk by the base headquarters building and see the flag pole. Most of my unbearable moments come when I look up to that flag and see it is half mast (fallen comrade(s)). Keeping my military bearing, I render a salute and keep pressing towards my work compound."

What does he want people back home to know? SSgt Miller replied, "Support the troops. Without Americans supporting the Armed Forces our mission is irrelevant."

Note: Sam Postrion works at the Front Desk and Reservation Department at Woodloch Pines Resort.

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Vow Renewal at Woodloch: One Loving Couple's Story

  
  
  
  
  
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“I’ll always be his ‘Toots’ and he will always be my ‘Hun.’”

It’s been 50 years since they first met, and Kathy and Phil Bracco of Monroe Township, New Jersey, can’t wait to renew their vows.

"Phil and I have NEVER called each other by our first names. I’ll always be his 'Toots,' and he will always be my 'Hun.' That’s what we have called each other since the beginning of this loving journey together," she says. “We met in the lobby of the N.Y. Tel. Co. where I worked.  Phil was picking up his neighbor who was my supervisor.  I happened to be leaving at the same time.  What a coincidence.  We were introduced, and our love story started from there. Phil was 24; I was 18."

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And yes, it was love at first sight.

She’ll never forget his heartfelt proposal. “We were in his car. He told me how much he loved me and that he wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.  We were married a year later,” she relates.

Tears of happiness followed his proposal. “We were so excited and went home to tell our parents,” she says.

The two were wed on June 29, 1963  at the Oriental Manor in Brooklyn. “The Church was Our Lady of Grace on Avenue W & East 3rd Street in Brooklyn,” she says.

Does she remember that exact moment when they looked into each other’s eyes and promised forever? “I cry at any little thing; imagine on my wedding day. How can I ever forget those precious meaningful words? We are as in love today as the day we exchanged our vows. As we have matured so has our love grown deeper for one another. It has definitely evolved," she says.

When it comes to the secret of happily ever after, Kathy says, "It’s having unconditional love and understanding for one another. Always being there for each other in good and bad times."

Her advice to new couples rings true. "Be trustworthy, understanding, compromise and don’t hold a grudge. Communication is very important. Always say "I love you" before going to bed and give each other a kiss. It is truly a blessing to find your soulmate to share a lifetime together," she says.

This June, the Braccos will celebrate 50 amazing years at Woodloch with their kids and grandkids. "We have three children, two girls and one boy, and 6 grandchildren, five boys and one girl," she says.  

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"The best part and biggest blessing of being married is that we have each other every day to share all the joys and special times with our children and grandchildren," Kathy says.  

Their vow renewal ceremony will be steeped in romanticism. Kathy envisions a horse and carriage.  "I guess deep down I am a hopeless romantic wanting to ride in a horse and carriage. Remembering the song, 'Love & Marriage goes together like a horse and carriage . . . you can’t have one without the other.' How true are those words. We wanted to have a ceremony outsideand always dreamed of having it by a lake or on a beach. We realized Woodloch had it all. I love the lake settings," she says.

"We chose Woodloch so we can all be together in one house, and it was convenient for everyone’s schedule since it is not too far from where we live. We have been there two times before. We love the whole atmosphere of such a beautiful resort to renew our vows.''

Kathy says, "Having a bright sunny day celebrating it with all our family would make our day perfect."

Vow renewal is indeed special, says Pastor Sharon Bedrosian, who officiates at Woodloch. "It makes me cry. I love doing it because there's such a feeling of love there," Bedrosian says.  

To learn more about vow renewal ceremonies at Woodloch Pines Resort, please call 1-800-966-3562, option 3.  

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