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A Pocono Perspective ~ Woodloch's Blog

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On the Path to an Exceptional Poconos Dining Experience: Meet Stevan Sundberg

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all-inclusive resort


Did you know that Woodloch is home to 9 dining facilities?  With the opening of The Market at Woodloch, let’s make that 10.  From our family-style, country-comfort cuisine in the main dining room at Woodloch Pines, to the epicurean inspired “farm to fork” spa gastronomy at The Lodge at Woodloch, we have to up our game to ensure a quality dining experience is had by all.  Enter corporate executive chef, Stevan Sundberg.

R  Marketing sara.coons food 1 When Stevan started here in the beginning of the year   he came with lofty goals in mind for the all-inclusive Woodloch Resort nestled in the Pocono Mountains.  One of these goals is love, a little TLC, “I think the food at Woodloch needs inspiration.  I want every plate that runs out of any Woodloch kitchen to exude passion and heart.”

 Just beyond the entrance to The Lodge at Woodloch is a dirt road that leads to a lush garden where the concept of “farm to fork” comes from. Growing freshly there is everything from baby kale to fresh peas nestled in their pods. In the midst of getting to know what Steven brings to the table, I was able to step into his element where he is most inspired to do what he does best. Steven thrives off the ability to give guests quality, inspired, fresh cuisine. He wants to leave each plate with something scratch prepared, not necessarily out of a can. One of the many unique elements of Woodloch culinary arts is the new ability to be able to give our guests healthy, well-balanced options that could easily have been picked fresh from the garden the day their plate hits the table; which will continue to grow, figuratively and literally.

Stevan comes to Woodloch with 29 years of service and experience as the former executive chef at Skytop Lodge. He brought with him an exuberant ambition to keep dining options here at Woodloch trendy, unique, and to create consistency within each menu. There will always be room for improvement, but when it comes to our food options here we must always aim high and raise the bar.

R  Marketing sara.coons food 2Another great asset the Stevan brings to the table is an externship development program. Giving externs an environment in which they can grow to become a key player and eventually a long-term teammate in the kitchens here at Woodloch.  The short-term benefit to this program is giving Woodloch extremely talented chefs during the most peak season when demand is high.  The externs always seem to bring in passion, positive attitudes, and professional pride to our culinary and pastry teams.

 “At the end of their visit, I want guests to leave Woodloch saying, ‘Wow! This place was great. It had great activities, and fantastic entertainment, BUT the food was out of this world!’”

Cheers to the future of Woodloch dining, welcome aboard Chef Sundberg!

-shared by Sara Coons

A Woodloch Employee's Fatherly Inspiration

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 ~shared by Colleen Mitchell

A very Happy Father's Day to all!

 What's that old saying: "Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad."

 Colleen Mitchell and brother Kevin know all about special parents, the kind that make the world a better place, who brighten dark days, who listen, encourage and love you -- no matter what.

 Each Father's day is special. Yet, Father's Day 2014 is gearing up to be so much better for Glenn Mitchell of Forks Township. You see, last year, he was struggling to survive with a heart that was nearly worn out. On a much needed transplant list, he was anxiously awaiting a perfect match.

 There were two false alarms for a new heart. The first was turned down by the heart transplant team and second was turned down by Glenn for various medical reasons; and finally, a third and much awaited call. On October 29, 2013, Glenn underwent intensive surgery, receiving a priceless, beating gift.

 Eight months later, a healthier Glenn has the following words of advice: "Don't give up hope" and "Keep your faith." Asked if God's strength upheld him throughout his tough ordeal, Glenn instantly answered "absolutely."

 Once gravely ill, he's been given a new lease on life, one of independence, travel and trips to the gym. Having just returned from Florida, Glenn says air travel is limited to a couple of hours. But that doesn't mean he's given up hope of a return trip to Ireland sometime in the future. It'll have to wait at least a year out from the transplant date - doctor's orders.

 Medications have dramatically dropped from 35 to 40 pills post-transplant to about 25 pills taken daily nowadays. And yes, diet and exercise are strict, with triple trips to the gym weekly and diet restricted in fat, sugar and salt intake. But he's not complaining. It's just so good to be alive, to spend time with family and friends.

 His life's motto…  "Make the most of each day. Have a list of things to do each day and try to accomplish them."

 There's an important item on Glenn's bucket list that he'll definitely fulfill in the near future. "One year after transplant, we can write a letter (to the donor's family," he explained. That's when he'll pen the biggest "thank you" ever. There aren't enough words in the English language to describe the ultimate gift that he's been given.

 Glenn and his entire family are strong supporters of organ donation.

 "All of us, the whole family, are so proud of him," Colleen said.

 To learn more about organ donation, please visit

 Colleen Mitchell is enrolled in the management training program at Woodloch Pines Resort.


Health Benefits of Vacation - Part 2

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girlfriend getaway, spa resort

~shared by J. Ranner

Hopefully, you've had a chance to read up on some of the healthy benefits of deciding to take a vacation.  We sincerely hope that this alone was enough to encourage you that vacations are a good thing, and you should embrace the opportunity to go away and take one.

Yet, I know for a fact that despite all of the scary things that go along with neglecting time off, I still will not get through to some people. So, with that in mind, I will try to appeal to another state of well-being: your career.

I know, I know- I can hear you already. "My job is just way too important. Can't take any time off. Too bad, so sad- end of story." Personally, unless your career involves single-handedly saving the world from incoming asteroids or extraterrestrial invasions, I respectfully disagree (And even Superman has the whole Justice League to back him up... no excuses).  

Although, 100% of the blame cannot be pinned on the individual.  Although I am a proud American and know that we became great largely due to hard work, let it be known that the United States is the only industrialized nation in the entire world in which employees are NOT guaranteed any time off by law.  Attempts have been made to mandate at last 2 weeks of paid time off (PTO) but to no avail.  Canadians are given a guaranteed 10 vacation days per year, while Europeans enjoy 20. 

Being able to afford a vacation is another issue in itself, yet less of a an issue than one may think. To break down the financial abilities to travel:

  • Two-thirds of Americans really do have the means to travel. 
  • 50% of Americans have the money to travel and simply choose not to.
  • Only about 27% of Americans routinely take vacations.
So in other words, we've become stubborn and guilty. And again, this all goes into affecting your overall health.


So if it's your career that you are concerned about, I have good news for you. Taking that annual vacation that you deserve might actually in the long-run benefit your career. 
"How?" Glad you asked!
  • Traveling (and even better, scrapping the cell phones, laptops and concerns of the outside world) will provide a "respite effect" that will ultimately help a weary brain relax... and allow you to catch up on some much needed sleep!
  • With that clear mind, you can obtain fresh perspectives on things... and along with that, new and creative ideas for when you eventually (but not too quickly) return to the work world.
  • Harnessing new and revitalized energy. John Kiesendahl, president and general manager of Woodloch Pines Resort says  “It amazes me every time, I watch families arrive at Woodloch tired and stressed but when I greet them at breakfast before they check out they have a renewed spirit, are reenergized and ready to get back to work.” 
couples retreat, golf vacationsAnd the benefits aren't necessarily limited to employees.  Employers who are willing to let their employees take some time off are rewarded with sharper and happier workers- studies by the U.S. Travel Association have found that travelers tend to perform at least 25% higher in vigilance tests after returning from break. Tired and stressed employees will ultimately cost employers in mistakes- plus studies have found that workers achieve almost as much in a 40 hour week than they would in a 50 hour week- the "burnout burden" hurts everyone.

So the next time you're considering getting away, you now have even more reasons to say "yes." No more sorry excuses. Have that talk with your bosses, level with them, and make the rational decision.  And I hope this article provided a few more compelling arguments for you to strengthen your case!

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! 





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.

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.   



Woodloch Employees Raise Hope and Awareness for Type 1 Diabetes

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~Shared by T. Compton

The message on her hand is one she carries in her heart.

Sara Hoey's hand is covered in colorful letters, including her daughter's favorite color - purple. In fact, every member of Sara's family (and a large number of their friends) is sporting a similar message on the back of their hands: Hope 4 Jilly.

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Jillian is her lively, hazel eyed, curly haired, much adored daughter. Gearing up for her second year of rookie softball, she's an active first grader who loves music class, takes tap and jazz dance, makes her mom grin with the constant playing of Taylor Swift's 'Trouble' on her iPod, and lives life each day with juvenile diabetes.

Strong in their support, family and friends have markered up their hands to celebrate "Hope for a Cure Day."

"It brings awareness to finding hope to one day cure Type 1 Diabetes," Sara said.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or JDRF, is hosting a 5K Walk to Cure Diabetes on June 1st, Moosic. To support Jillian's team, please visit:

As a mom, Sara admits she worries about the disease. "You worry any time you are a parent. Being a mom of a Type-1 Diabetic child, the worry is intensified. I look at the clock and worry while she is in school that she is going to have a low (blood sugar level) and pass out or if she will have a low on the school bus, and there will be nobody able to take care of her. I worry at night that she is going to go unconscious in her sleep and that it will happen while we are sleeping. Both Brian (her husband) and myself take turns getting up each night at 2 a.m. to do a blood sugar check on her and make sure she is safe."

What helps her cope? "I have a really great support system in my family who listen to me vent each day about the latest obstacle. I have a wonderful husband who is there to help 24/7, and we have faith in God who listens to our prayers to help keep our little girl safe each day," Sara said.

Although she's young, Sara says Jillian has a good understanding of diabetes. "Jillian understands a lot more than I think most 7-year-old children would grasp. She does her own blood sugar checks six to eight times a day, and we supervise, or the school nurse does it. We do her dosing and carb counting, but she understands what is good for her and what will make her blood sugar go high. She understands what she needs when she goes low," Sara said.

"She takes a lot in stride and she is so strong!! However, she does get lows that are scary that leave her unable to think clearly or function for some time. And that is upsetting as a parent to see her having to miss out on things due to her being low.

"I get overwhelmed a lot when Jillian is sick. A simple stomach bug can land her in the ER on IV. Colds and flus promote high and low blood sugars. I often get very stressed when she is sick. Also, when she is growing, her blood sugars go out of whack," Sara said. 

Are there many visits and long trips to the hospital? "When she was diagnosed she was admitted there for a week. We went back for educational courses on how to take care of her as well as when we transitioned her to the insulin pump. We go to Chilldren's Hospital of Philadelphia every three months for her regular check-ups," she said.

How do you turn those trips into something fun instead of something to be dreaded? "We started a fun tradition of going to Build-A-Bear when we go to CHOP to put a fun spin on the trips. Now she looks forward to those trips a little bit more," Sara explained.

How has the rest of the family adapted to Jillian's diagnosis? "Her little brother (Brett) had a tough time initially dealing with all of the attention Jillian was getting. He started to act out a bit, but we made it a point to spend time with him one-on-one as well, and he seems to have adjusted very well. He looks out for his sister now. He tells her when something is going to 'give her high blood sugar,'" Sara said.


Does everyone go out of their way to make her feel comfortable? "Everyone in the family has gone out of their way to make sure she knows she is loved. We are always telling her how strong she is each day and how incredibly proud we are of her."

Is it a learning curve? "Taking care of Jillian is a huge learning curve. Everything from knowing signs of highs/lows, carb counting, insulin dosing and using her pump is invloved. There aren't many times that she is not with myself, Brian or the school nurse due to those factors," Sara explained.

What is Sara's hope for everyone with diabetes? "My hope is that there will one day be a cure. That the 6-8 checks a day, 3-4 painful site changes, and scary lows and highs will one day be no longer. If not a cure, my hope is that more and more technological advancements (like Jillian's insulin pump) will keep coming out."

What would she tell someone whose child has just been diagnosed? "I would tell them to take a deep breath. Right now everything is going through their minds at once. Try to take everything one day at a time. Some days will be harder than others, and you will constantly be comparing your life from before diagnosis to now. Things will get easier in the sense that you will get used to your new routine and lifestyle, but it will all take time," she said.

Sara and her husband work at Woodloch Pines Resort, where Sara is employed in the Reservation's Department, and her husband is Facilities Manager.


Joey Makes a Splash for a Cause at Woodloch

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~Shared by S. Hoey

One thing that everyone can agree on at Woodloch is that Joey Ranner is the master of fun! He gets all of our guests involved in our amazing activities. He has our guests running all over the resort searching for items in the family scavenger Hunt, racking their brains for points in Name that Tune, cooling them off in the summer pool games and of course getting our guests wet and messy at Double Dare!

golf resort, spa resortThis past summer during our outdoor Motown concert, Joey turned the tables for a change and gave our guests the chance to get him drenched for an awesome cause! For one dollar, guests had the opportunity to hit a bullseye with a softball. If the bullseye was hit, a very large water balloon sitting above Joey's head would get popped!

The best part was not only was Joey the one soaked for a change, BUT all the proceeds benefitted the JDRF: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Donations to the JDRF make a dramatic impact as JDRF moves life-altering research out of the lab and into human clinical trials. According to the JDRF, more than 80% of JDRF's expenditures directly support diabetes research and research-related education.

When asked why Joey chose to raise money for the JDRF he answered, "Seeing how type 1 diabetes affects young children, like my granddaughter Jillian, makes me want to do something to help." Joey's granddaughter, Jillian who is 6, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago. Since diagnosis, she has transitioned from numerous daily injections to use of an insulin pump, which was life changing. She is a very active and energetic six year old who participates in dance and soccer.

Jillian is able to live a normal healthy life because of the JDRF and its supporters. The generosity of our guests throughout the summer was truly overwhelming. Thank you for all of your donations and a big thank you to Joey for sacrificing himself for the good of the cause! 

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