Honoring Ocean Lakes' favorite mom this Mother's Day

You could see a part of her shine through each face sitting around the conference room table.

The class, humor, can-do spirit of Mary Emily Platt Jackson was evident in her five daughters, who had gathered on this March day to talk with a reporter about the mother who gave them so much.

For a little more than an hour, the five daughters filled the room with stories of their mother’s love - for them, their father Nelson and the arts. They laughed at memories brought back through old black-and-white family photos and beamed with pride over her legacy of love and success that prompted Sasee magazine to feature her for Mother’s Day.

“We are just honored that you would pick our Mom,” Rachel said.

The five daughters - Emily Vallarino, Laura Hoy, Kaki Williamson, Rachel Gandy and Jeanne Mize – gladly sat down with Sasee Editor Leslie Moore to share stories of their mom’s rich life. Mary Emily Jackson passed away in 2010, just 10 months after the love of her life Nelson passed away. The couple had been married for nearly 68 years.

“She encouraged us, just like she encouraged Daddy, to go out and do and be brave,” Kaki said.

In addition to being a supportive wife and mother, Mary Emily made a name for herself. She attended Converse College on a music scholarship and loved the arts. It was a passion that never left her – she always had her young girls singing and was an avid supporter of the arts along the Grand Strand, not only sitting on various boards of directors for arts groups but also being an active contributor.

“You never saw her just sit. She was always doing something,” Emily said.

A plaque honoring Mary Emily Platt Jackson is displayed at Brookgreen Gardens, one of the many organizations along the Grand Strand that she supported.

When they were kids, Mary Emily made the clothes for her daughters so they could model the material Nelson was selling on the road. He converted a Trailways bus into one of the first motorhomes so the family could all be together as he traveled.

If she couldn’t find the right pattern for an outfit, she’d make one. Needed flower arrangements for church or weddings? Mary Emily could take care of that, too.

“So what didn’t she do? She was like a Renaissance woman,” Leslie said.

But it wasn’t just the skills she passed along to her girls. Mary Emily instilled a passion and drive in them while allowing each to pursue their own interests.

“She taught us to appreciate our differences,” Laura said. “She gave us the can-do spirit.”

Mary Emily was poised and very gracious, teaching her daughters about family and how to love one another while embodying that “sky’s the limit” and “just do it” mentality.

“She was our first hero,” Jeanne said.

The Jackson daughters are still actively involved in Ocean Lakes, carrying on that family legacy.

Check out the Mother's Day story about Mary Emily Platt Jackson in Sasee magazine here.


Headed to Ocean Lakes for the Harley-Davidson spring rally in Myrtle Beach? Here’s what you need to know

Ocean Lakes is ready for bikers to start rolling in for the Harley-Davidson spring rally in Myrtle Beach.

The Cruisin’ the Coast rally, which attracts thousands of bikers to the Grand Strand, officially kicks off Monday, May 14 but some bikers will arrive the weekend before the official kickoff to get the party started.

The rally runs through May 20 and includes rides, entertainment and other special events along the Grand Strand.

Ocean Lakes welcomes bikers. Special parking for bikes and trailer storage areas have been set up to accommodate biker guests. Our South Gate also will be open to help guests get in the campground and start having fun as quickly as possible.

Many guests arriving this week have been watching the weather forecasts; we've had lots of questions about rain in the coming days. As of Wednesday, our go-to meteorologist Ed Piotrowski says the rain will be scattered. "That means it will not rain all day, every day, but if you are outside for several hours at a time, chances are you'll encounter a downpour."

Follow Ed on Facebook for the latest weather info; he'll give you a local forecast that's usually better than national models.

We want all of our guests who are here for the spring rally to have a fun, safe visit. A few reminders to help you make the most of your stay at Ocean Lakes:

Motorcycle rules

Guests are not allowed to ride motorcycles through the campground. Rope and motorcycle dolly towing ARE permitted to and from your rental site or campsite.

The following are NOT allowed in Ocean Lakes:

  • Riding motorcycles beyond the designated area at the entrance (signs mark the boundaries where bikes are allowed) 
  • Coasting – not under power but with a guest sitting on the seat
  • Three-wheel rides such as Can-Am Spyders and Polaris Slingshots must follow motorcycle rules; they are not allowed in the campground and must park in the designated motorcycle lot by the South Gate.

Ocean Lakes doesn’t allow bikers beyond the front area of the campground to ensure the noise doesn’t bother guests who are relaxing. While we have a number of bikers who stay with us, we also have non-bikers staying here, too.

Motorcycle parking

Ocean Lakes has a designated area for free motorcycle parking at the South Gate entrance. You must be a registered guest of Ocean Lakes and have a campground-issued orange wristband attached to the bike’s handlebars to park in this area.

Guests should pick up the orange wristband for their motorcycle in the Main Office when they check in. If the office is closed, you can get a wristband from the Main Gate or South Gate. Your site number will be on the wristband, which gives our team a quick way of contacting the bike’s owner if needed.

For bikers’ convenience, there are two unloading ramps available in the parking area by the South Gate.

Cars and vehicles also can park by the South Gate but only in the closest section to U.S. 17 Business, which is separated from the bikes and designated with signs as vehicle parking.

Trailer parking

Guests can park their utility trailers at their site if it safely and completely fits on their homesite or campsite.

If that doesn’t work, trailer parking will be available in our West Lot, which is across the street from the campground with easy access off S.C. 544. Cost is $5 a day.

This area is only for trailer storage; you will not have 24-hour access to park your motorcycle inside the trailer at the end of the day.

Getting into Ocean Lakes

Our South Gate will be open! Bikers can use the South Gate for more convenient access to the biker parking area. Ocean Lakes also is opening the South Gate to help alleviate congestion at the Main Gate during the rally.

The South Gate will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight Friday, May 11 through Saturday, May 19 and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 20.


Guests can unload their motorcycles at the South Gate parking lot or in the West Lot trailer storage area off S.C. 544 across the street from the campground.

We recommend that you do NOT unload motorcycles at your rental house or campsite unless you have a tow dolly. Remember: You won’t be able to ride your motorcycle from your site.

Need more info?

Our team is here to help. Feel free to contact Security at 843-828-4847. That number is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Have fun and ride safe!


Meet the 82-year-old teammate who conquered the 22-Mile walking challenge at Ocean Lakes

John Saylors has always loved a challenge.

So when Ocean Lakes Family Campground announced the March Madness 22-Mile Challenge for teammates – walk every paved road in the campground in a month, a total of 22 miles – John figured he’d give it a try.

At 82, he’s a bit older than most of his fellow teammates. And, just a little more than a year ago, he had surgery to fix the left hip that he broke in a fall. “I’ve got a little wobble now, though,” he said.

But that wasn’t going to stop him.

“I thought I might do 10 miles,” John said. “But then I got going and it was kind of fun.”

John Saylors poses for a photo March 28 just moments after finishing the 22-Mile Challenge at Ocean Lakes Family Campground.

He’d pet dogs along the way. Chat with folks on their porches enjoying the nice day. One guest, who relied on a scooter to get around, even joined John for a bit.

“He pulled up beside of me wanting to know what I was doing,” John said. They ended up talking for the next mile as John walked the mobile home section, the man rolling right alongside him.

“Everybody’s nice and friendly and they talk to you,” John said. “I had a good time with it.”

John, a retired law enforcement officer who works in Ocean Lakes Main Office, made special trips to the campground while off duty on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during March to log the miles. On his best day, he walked 3.5 miles.

Before he would set out on the day’s walk, he’d grab his Ocean Lakes walkie talkie radio – natural instinct for a law enforcement guy – just in case he had to alert Security if he stumbled upon a situation that needed immediate attention.

He’d also give his Security teammates a heads up that he was heading out for his walk. His teammates had his back.

“Bob Muller would ride by and make sure I was in an upright position,” John said.

Once John got going on the challenge, ticking off mile after mile, he started to think that his original goal of 10 miles might not be enough.

“Heck, I could crush this thing,” John remembered thinking after he finished 10 miles.

Support from teammates also helped.

“Everybody really thought I could do it and a lot of people encouraged me,” John said.

John Saylors shows off the "Rock Star" medal he earned for completing the 22-Mile Challenge at Ocean Lakes Family Campground. By the end of the challenge, John had logged 25.8 miles.

He persevered through the aches in the knees or ankles that came after a day’s good walk. Sometimes he’d carry his cane on his walks – he doesn’t really need it to walk around every day but he thought it might help on some uneven areas.

But the biggest bummer – there weren’t many guests out and about to chat when he walked the south side of the campground.

“It was kind of lonely on the south side,” John said.

By the end of the challenge, John had logged 25.8 miles (there’s some overlap catching every road) – just shy of a marathon (26.2 miles).

“Probably no one my age has walked that,” John said of his 25 miles, which he finished walking March 28.

Dennis Wade, CEO of The Jackson Companies, presents John Saylors with the "Rock Star" medal for finishing the 22-Mile Challenge for teammates at Ocean Lakes Family Campground.

His accomplishment earned him the “Rock Star” medal at the April 9 luncheon in the Recreation Center celebrating the teammates who participated in the 22-Mile Challenge.

“I’m just happy I can still go,” John said. “I’m going to go until they carry me out of here.”


Will they survive? How to tell if your palm tree will bounce back after brutal winter

You might have noticed that our pretty palms aren’t looking quite so pretty.

Blame the brutal winter. Palms – the ultimate sign of a warm beachy place – understandably don’t like the cold. Not unusual to see some brown leaves after every winter.

But this winter was exceptionally brutal. Remember that string of 20-degree days in January? Yeah, we weren’t the only ones freezing.

“They took a beating this winter,” said Jeff Wilson, Ocean Lakes Landscape Manager who has more than 30 years of experience as a horticulturalist. “They don’t look real good right now.”

Ocean Lakes Landscape Manager Jeff Wilson gives advice about trimming sago palms like this one that took a beating during the brutal winter.

Many of the palms – regardless of the specific type – have more brown leaves than green right now, and they are sagging. Some of the palms look down right sad. But that’s not an automatic sign that the tree won’t make it. Wilson isn’t giving up just yet.

“It’s too early to tell,” he said. “You have to give them some more time. Just because it looks like this, it does not mean all hope is lost.”

Wondering if yours will make it? Wilson has some tips for homeowners.

First and most important: Be patient. Don’t give up on the palms just yet.

Second, check the center bud, which produces the growth on the tree. If it’s solid, the tree is likely to come back. If it’s soft and dried-up, it’s more than likely dead.

Landscape Manager Jeff Wilson checks the bud on this sago palm to determine if it's likely to survive.

There are a variety of palms sprinkled throughout the 310-acre campground.

Sago palms are very popular; many of them are flush with the ground. When smaller, almost like a bush, these are palms our homeowners can cut themselves.

If the solid center bud indicates that the palm is likely to survive, you can cut off the fronds, or brown leaves. But be prepared: the pointy leaves are like spikes and can stick you. Be sure to wear jeans and a long-sleeve shirt, and use long-handle loppers so you can cut without having to get up close in those sharp points.

“Be very careful – they have some nasty thorns on them,” Wilson said. “They will stick you.”

Everything else homeowners should leave to our Landscape team. Remember, homeowners are not allowed to trim any trees – our Landscape team handles all tree trimming throughout the campground, including on annual lease sites (unless we have to call an outside company for the big jobs). Have a tree you want trimmed? Get on the list by calling our Compliance Office at 843-828-4836.

That includes most of the sabal palmettos (the official tree of South Carolina) and Washingtonia palms, which usually flourish in warmer-weather environments such as Florida and are looking the worst around here right now. Most of the trees homeowners have asked Wilson to check are Washingtonia palms.

“We are at the northern edge of its limit,” Wilson said.

In March, our Compliance Office received 15 tree-trimming requests, and another 10 have already come in during April. Experts don’t want to cut off too much at one time, so some trees might need multiple trimming sessions.

Just don’t give up on those palms yet.

“Be patient,” Wilson said. “You can be amazed at something that can look totally dead then you go out a week later and it has got growth on it.”

Want a tree trimmed at your annual lease site? Call the Ocean Lakes Compliance Office at 843-828-4836.