You probably haven't noticed these 'pink houses' at Ocean Lakes

When you think of October at Ocean Lakes, you probably envision the creepy sites, the crazy costumes and other Halloween fun.

But there’s another special group that quietly makes Ocean Lakes a regular stop every October.

Ocean Lakes partners with Little Pink Houses of Hope, which provides free beach vacations to breast cancer patients and their families. The goal is to promote recovery by offering opportunities to connect and celebrate life in a beach setting.

About eight to 11 breast cancer patients and their families come to Ocean Lakes through the Burlington, N.C.-based non-profit every October, which coincidentally happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Little Pink Houses, which has about a dozen beach retreats in the United States every year, arranges the details of the vacations so the families can simply show up and start having fun.

“All they have to do is just get themselves here,” said Cristi Seay, the Myrtle Beach Retreat Coordinator.

Then it’s our turn to help. Ocean Lakes offers our facilities, golf cars, food for some of the events, goodie bags and recreation activities to the families to streamline their stay and help them focus on having fun and creating family memories. Individual homeowners in Ocean Lakes donate their houses for the families to stay for the week.

“We’re happy to be a part of it,” said Lance Thompson, Ocean Lakes’ general manager and vice president.
Cristi Seay (center), Myrtle Beach Retreat Coordinator with Little Pink Houses of Hope, presents a plaque to Ocean Lakes Family Campground managers. Pictured (left to right): General Manager/Vice President Lance Thompson, Recreation Director Craig Culbreth, Seay, Marketing Director Barb Krumm and Operations Manager Kevin McWhirter.
Seay recently stopped by Ocean Lakes with a special thank-you for Thompson and the Ocean Lakes team, presenting key managers with a plaque featuring a photo of the Little Pink Houses of Hope families who stayed at Ocean Lakes in 2016 as well as a hand-written letter from the charity’s founder, Jeanine Patten-Coble.

“From the very first year, you have wrapped your arms around our volunteers and breast cancer families and have never let go,” Patten-Coble wrote in the letter. “We are so lucky to not only have a partnership, but a true feeling of family in our relationship!”

Cristi Seay (right), Myrtle Beach Retreat Coordinator for Little Pink Houses of Hope, thanks Ocean Lakes managers for helping provide free vacations for breast cancer patients and their families. Pictured, from left to right: Operations Manager Kevin McWhirter, Marketing Director Barb Krumm and General Manager/Vice President Lance Thompson

Ocean Lakes has partnered with Little Pink Houses of Hope on the retreats since they started in Myrtle Beach in 2011, welcoming about 400 family members over those years, Seay said. The retreats have all the aspects of what makes a great beach vacation, including eating at area restaurants, family photo shoots on the beach, games such as cornhole and, of course, some good ole’ rest and relaxation.

During their weeklong stay at Ocean Lakes, kids enjoy special activities in our Recreation Center one evening while Mom and Dad get to have “date night.”

Aren’t these cute? We were honored to again host about a dozen breast cancer patients during Breast Cancer Awareness...
Posted by Ocean Lakes Family Campground on Thursday, October 27, 2016

Little Pink Houses of Hope has 14 beach retreats scheduled for 2017. The Myrtle Beach retreat is set for Oct. 15-21 at Ocean Lakes; it's the only one in South Carolina. Other 2017 retreat locations: Emerald Isle, N.C.; Key West, Fla.; Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Gulf Shores, Ala., among others. About 1,000 breast cancer patients have applied to participate in one of the retreats, Seay said.

“Thanks for jumping in with your families to directly serve and become a part of the retreat week,” Patten-Coble said in the letter to Ocean Lakes. “We are truly blessed to be able to create hope together with Ocean Lakes!”

Cristi Seay (right), Myrtle Beach Retreat Coordinator for Little Pink Houses of Hope, presents a plaque featuring a photo of the 2016 breast cancer patients who stayed at Ocean Lakes for their beach retreat. Accepting the plaque for Ocean Lakes (from left to right): Recreation Director Craig Culbreth, Operations Manager Kevin McWhirter, Marketing Director Barb Krumm and General Manager/Vice President Lance Thompson.

Want to help?

Donate or volunteer

Little Pink Houses of Hope relies on donations from the community and volunteers to help with everything from planning activities to collecting donations. Interested? Contact Myrtle Beach Retreat Coordinator Cristi Seay at 864-444-8790 or cristi@littlepink.org.

Run/walk to earn a medal and raise money
Hit the pavement for the first EmpowerMe Pink virtual 1 mile or 5K run/walk and designate $10 of the $30 entry fee to go directly to support the Myrtle Beach retreat. Complete the virtual run/walk between April 15 and May 15. Register here.


Water park schedule for 2017

Ocean Lakes guests are gearing up for their spring vacations, and many have the same question: When’s the water park opening?

Here’s a guide for when the Sandy Harbor Water Park will open and close this year:

Easter | Open for the big Easter crowds April 14 through April 16, then will shut down until May

May | Open on the weekends only (Saturday and Sunday) with “hours as posted”

Summer | Opens full time Memorial Day weekend and will stay on summer hours through Labor Day

Fall | Open under “hours as posted” through Sept. 30

Many factors influence when the water park can operate, including weather and staffing.

Most of the lifeguards who work during the summer are high school and college students who are in class other times of the year, including the spring and fall.

That makes finding certified lifeguards a challenge when school is in session. Because of the caliber of our slides and other water park features, we are required by the state to have a certain number of certified lifeguards working for the park to open. We simply are not going to operate the water park without the certified lifeguards.

The short supply of lifeguards during spring and fall is another reason why most other area water parks stick to that summer schedule of Memorial Day to Labor Day, even though the weather might still seem nice enough to take a ride down the slide.

This is the first spring for Sandy Harbor, which debuted Memorial Day weekend 2016 and boasts a 705-foot Adventure (lazy) River, Drop Zone, The Tube, Splash Zone and other features.

“The water park was a huge hit during its first summer – from kids having a ball in the Splash Zone to folks enjoying a relaxing float along the lazy river,” Recreation Director Craig Culbreth said. "Our team is excited about the upcoming 2017 season and eager to see our guests having a blast at Sandy Harbor."

Our outdoor pool will be open for the season the week before Easter - possibly sooner depending on weather. The indoor pool stays open year-round.

Be sure to review our pool and water park rules before heading to Sandy Harbor!


Nature Center moving into new, more convenient location

The Nature Center is getting settled in its new location with plans to open by the time summer crowds start rolling into Ocean Lakes.

Crews have moved the center’s contents and display cases from its longtime home on Lovestone Drive to the new, more convenient location behind Sandy Mart. 

The center’s new building, a former lake house, has been renovated, including new floors and a fresh coat of paint on the inside and outside. New Nature Center signs are already up as crews put the finishing touches on the building.

While the heavy lifting is over, teammates are busy building the new displays and filling the glass cases with shells, fossils and other natural wonders for guests to enjoy and learn about. 

The new center is on track to open in time for the busy summer season – if not sooner.

The Leonard Raker Nature Center Discovery Lab is getting a new home so it will be more conveniently located near the hub of activity at the Camptown Center. The Nature Center – known for its hands-on exhibits and knowledgeable staff – has operated off Lovestone Drive in the southern part of the campground. The Nature Center opened in 1993.

“This is a much better spot,” said Craig Culbreth, Ocean Lakes Recreation Director.

The new Nature Center will keep the mainstays that visitors love while adding some new features. The popular sea turtle exhibit will be expanded. A new hurricane display will be installed. And the alligator exhibit will be overhauled.

And the new location boasts a feature not found in the center’s former spot: green space alongside a lake. The new center's back deck fronts Magnolia Lake, which lends itself to more outdoor activities and hands-on demonstrations.

“We’re so excited about this new location. Not only is it more convenient for guests to access, it opens up so many more opportunities to take our already popular Nature Center to a new level,” Naturalist Brandy Cloos said. “I’m eager to get moved in, set up and get ready to greet guests starting this summer.”

An opening date for the new Nature Center hasn’t yet been set. Stay tuned. Hours this summer will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Parking will be available at the center. To get to the new center, take Ocean Lakes Drive to Magnolia Lake Circle, turn left at site Z67. The new center will be on your right.


Better Wi-Fi experience on the way for Ocean Lakes guests

Ocean Lakes is working to provide a better Wi-Fi experience for our camping guests, with crews busy this month installing new equipment.

The new equipment will improve the Wi-Fi connection in the campground. Demand on the network has quickly increased as guests use multiple devices and stream shows and movies.

The new system, which will double the amount of equipment to better handle the volume, is expected to be up and running before spring break.

“Guests will simply have a much better Wi-Fi experience,” said George Burton, Ocean Lakes IT expert.

Crews are installing new equipment, moving from section to section in the campground. Sections will be without Wi-Fi for a couple of days as the new equipment is installed.

Guests still will be able to connect to Wi-Fi in other spots in the campground, including the Meet n Eat, Café and Recreation Center.

Guests can keep an eye out for the new SSID connection, which will be dubbed “Starfish.” You can start using that connection once it starts appearing as an available network. There will be no password required at this time.

The new system will work in the camping sections of the campground. Annual lease site holders will still have to arrange for their own Wi-Fi service.

Thanks for your patience as we work to improve the network and provide a better Wi-Fi experience for our guests.