Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Teammates Get Creative Decorating for Children’s Charity

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s the time of year Americans reflect on all we are thankful for and generally eat way too much. We celebrate family and friends and some wait in anticipation for the Black Friday sales. Ocean Lakes Family Campground is a busy place at Thanksgiving, and we are thankful for that! If you are spending this holiday at Ocean Lakes, check out the decorations in the Recreation Center (by Noon on Saturday).

It has been a tough couple of years for many Americans. Yet, no matter the situation, often Americans look at what we have been blessed with and reach out to those who are less fortunate. I guess many of us did learn to share when we were younger.

This Thanksgiving holiday, Ocean Lakes’ teammates have looked to their creative, resourceful, “green” selves to help raise money for “Substitutes for Santa,” a local charity that provides a Christmas experience to between 50 and 85 underprivileged children from the Loris and Myrtle Beach communities. Several of own teammates are involved in this special holiday outreach annually. They actually take the children shopping with a gift card. You’d think these children would go crazy buying the stuff they want. However, the children spend a good bit of the money buying gifts for their loved ones. Melts your heart.

Ready, Set, Create!

Truth is, our teammates are a competitive bunch. And though we are like a family, we each love to win! In 2008, we came up with the “Christmas Challenge” and it was a lot of fun! The challenge asks the campground’s teammates to decorate a tree or wreath as best they can without purchasing any decorations and only using items they find in their own department. It really proves for some pretty funny things – and some great ideas!

In the past, there’s been no limit to the teammate’s creativity. The Ocean Lakes Storage and Transport Department previously made a wreath out of a blown camper tire, decorated with flashing tail lights, mangled camper parts and reflectors. Security staff at the 310-acre campground created a wreath with old uniform shirts, handcuffs, reports, confiscated items and a flashing blue light.

The 2011 challenge continues to showcase the teammates’ creativity with departmental supplies including old fluorescent bulbs, orange caution cones, unused toilet plungers, iCare Program dog biscuits and mutt mitts, tools, toilet paper, and garden hose. This year, Security teammates formed the wreath itself out of caution tape. The Accounting Department crafted beautiful angels with halos out of coin wrappers and garland from dollar bill wrappers.

Judges will cast ballots during this week for winners in three categories: Most Festive, Wow! and Most Creative Use of Departmental Supplies. But Ocean Lakes’ guests and teammates will vote for the “People’s Choice.” Winners will be announced at The Jackson Companies’ Teammates Awards Breakfast and on the Ocean Lakes Facebook page on Dec. 12.

Do It for the Children…

In 2008, after we were already in the heat of the contest creativity, we thought, “we should have auctioned these off for charity!” So we made a mental note to plan for Thanksgiving.

In 2011, and the teammate response has been overwhelming – 14 departments and several collaborations. Teammates are already plotting next year’s challenge. But this time we planned enough in advance to include our guests’ votes and arrange for a silent auction for Substitutes for Santa.

Teammates are hoping to raise $1,000 for Substitutes for Santa, giving 10 underprivileged children a Christmas shopping spree with volunteer Santas. Minimum bids start at $25 and bidding ends on Saturday, November 26th. Remember – it’s for charity, so we appreciate any donations.

Have enough holiday d├ęcor?

Toys for Tots boxes are also located in the Ocean Lakes Main Office and Recreation Center.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Turning 40 was great!

On July 2nd, 2011 Ocean Lakes Family Campground turned 40.

It’s hard to believe that we could fit so much fun into a season, but even harder was doing it without our precious founders, Mary Emily and Nelson Jackson. We lost both of them in 2010, Mr. Jackson in February and then Mrs. Jackson in December. As a team, and a “family,” we have all enjoyed the continued presence and guidance of Mr. and Mrs. Jackson’s five daughters who could be seen throughout all of our events and celebration. Their warm words of gratitude and encouragement ever present as we all strive to live up to the amazing legacy that Mary Emily and Nelson Jackson created. And we all miss them.

We kicked the celebration off in April with our Cake Gala and Contest.

Ocean Lakes worked on being good stewards to the earth and added the first Level Two EV Charging Stations on the Carolinas Coast!

The “SurPrize Patrol” gave away 105 prizes per week starting at the Cake Gala.

On July 2nd, we celebrated our 40th with 10,000 cookies (which BTW is seven car loads of cookie trays!). Sandy’s Meet n’ Eat gave away an awesome bike to one family waiting in line for lunch. We took a group photo at our “giant Sandy” with our guests who were born on July 2nd, too. Prize patrol went crazy all weekend. We wrapped it up with a pool party – more cookies, a hula contest, a DJ and a movie full of 40 years of family memories at Ocean Lakes.

Of course, Mr. Jackson’s favorite event was always the Patriotic Golf Car Parade on July 4th. The birthday theme was carried through, even by our loyal guests – our extended family. And here’s a teammate tidbit: it takes 3 cameras and 3 teammates to photograph the entire parade line from start to finish before all the cars take off!

July continued with a Pelican’s baseball game on the beach…at BB&T Coastal Federal Field (yes, they have a beach there). August brought our annual Premier Bluegrass Weekend – preceded by an earthquake. There was one uninvited bluegrass guest – Hurricane Irene. But bluegrass fans are committed and the show went on! The opening night headliner featured Lonesome River Band…and a heart attack…with a happy ending…Amen. It was a tense few moments for the 300+ guests, teammates and musicians (not to mention Irene wailing outside) but thanks to our onsite AEDs (automatic external defibrillators), two nurses and one EMT – Archie’s family made it all the way from Kentucky to celebrate his recovery. (He is still upset about being “kissed” by his longtime friend, Dick Webb of the Bluegrass Strangers…and Dick’s still upset, too!)

All Star Golf Car Show featured more than just golf cars! The first EVs (electric vehicles) showed up at dealerships on the Grand Strand (this foreshadows our next blog on EVs). The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf were on hand for everyone to check out.

Then came our biggest Halloween ever! And because we don’t want to seem slack, we held the SC Fossil and Shell Fair at the same time. Now, most people don’t this, but it still amazes the Marketing Department, “the planners of mayhem,” that we shot more than 800 photos that day. Here’s the kicker…with one camera and two people!

Now it’s our turn for a vacation! (However, there aren’t many days left on our calendar.)

Did your family get to enjoy the 40th Birthday celebration?