Baby swan's close call serves as reminder to discard fishing line properly

One of our baby swans had a close call that serves as a reminder of the importance of discarding fishing line properly.

The baby swans on Magnolia Lake on Wednesday.
The baby swan, which left its nest for the first time this week, grabbed a fishing lure Thursday evening that was hanging from a tree in one of the lakes, sending the hook through its little beak. The baby was hanging from the line, and the parents were frantic.

Our Security team contacted one of our residents who we knew has experience in bird and animal rescues and rehabs, Jo Coeyman. She quickly grabbed a kayak to reach the baby swan.

“While she was getting the kayak, the parents kept swimming up to me, I swear they were asking for help,” said Tracy Wright, our Security teammate who responded to the lake to help the swan. “I told them it was coming.”

Ocean Lakes resident Jo Coeyman, who has experience in animal rescues, carefully removes the fishing lure from the baby swan's beak.

Coeyman was able to get to the baby – the protective parents swam about 50 feet away allowing her to help – and carefully removed the fishing hook and line.

“The baby swan reunited with its mother and the family swam together again,” Wright said.

The released baby swan swims to join its family.
Luckily, the baby was OK. But this close call is a reminder to dispose of fishing line the proper way; drop it in the special receptacle for it next to our lakes. If you get it stuck in a tree while casting, do your best to reel it back in - don't just leave it.

Please discard your fishing line in the special receptacle - there's one at all of our lakes. 
Never toss fishing line into the lake. The close call with the baby swan is just one example of how the improperly discarded line and hook can negatively impact wildlife. Birds, turtles and other animals also can easily get tangled in the line, which could lead to injuries, drowning, strangulation or starvation.

And that monofilament fishing line sticks around – most are not biodegradable and can last hundreds of years.

Please use the fishing line receptacles! Let's do our part to help the environment and keep our wildlife safe.

Meet our newest residents! These little cuties have been settling in their new home under the protective watch of Mom...
Posted by Ocean Lakes Family Campground on Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Staying at Ocean Lakes for Easter Weekend? Here's what you need to know

Guests headed this way for Easter weekend will have lots of activities at Ocean Lakes to celebrate the holiday, from the traditional Easter sunrise service to a new twist on the kids’ egg hunt.

The campground will be full for Easter weekend, and our facilities will be in full swing – including our water park and outdoor pool.

The water park will be open April 14 through April 16, then shut down until May. The outdoor pool will open for the season the week before Easter. Brush up on our water park rules and check out the water park's full 2017 schedule

Not quite ready for a swim this early in the year? No problem. We have a jam-packed lineup of free, family-focused events during Easter weekend for guests staying with us.

“Everything is just show up – nothing you have to sign up for in advance – and everything is free,” said Salle Horner, Sandy Harbor and Recreational Activities Coordinator.

One of the highlights: an Easter Obstacle Course, which is a twist on the traditional Easter egg hunt. Kids will go through a course featuring five fun stations – collecting toy- and prize-filled eggs along the way to end with a half-dozen eggs at the finish line. Don’t freak out about the “obstacles,” they are fun such as hopping like a bunny or jumping in hula hoops.

“All things they can hold their basket and do,” Horner said.

To make it fair and control crowds, kids will do the course in groups based on their age: ages 1-3 will start at 2 p.m., ages 4-7 will begin at 2:30 p.m. and ages 8-11 will start at 3 p.m.

The Easter obstacle course will be set up in the grassy area at the new Nature Center, behind Sandy Mart.

The Easter Obstacle Course will take place Sunday, April 16 in the grassy area behind the new Nature Center, which is behind Sandy Mart.

The Easter Egg Hunt is one of the most popular activities during Easter weekend, attracting between 300 and 400 kids. The new format will ensure that every kid gets eggs and make it more entertaining; the Easter Bunny will be waiting at the finish line to high-five all the finishers.

“It’s more interactive,” Horner said. “It doesn’t just last a few seconds and it’s over. Previously, we would say, ‘go’ and in 10 seconds it would be over.

“This also makes it more fair. Everybody ends up with the same number of eggs.”

About 2,400 prize-filled eggs will be up for grabs during the obstacle course, including a dozen eggs holding a certificate for a bigger prize - an Easter basket filled with lots of goodies.

A glimpse at the Easter baskets (minus the finishing touches) for the kids who score a "special" egg during the Easter Obstacle Course.

We had an impromptu, mini-version of the obstacle course last year when rain forced us to move the traditional egg hunt indoors.

“We had a lot of positive feedback from that,” Horner said. “People said it was fun and different. We took that and ran with it this year.”

Here’s your handy guide for the best bets during Easter weekend, check out our calendar for a FULL list of activities and events: 

Thursday, April 13:

7 p.m. | Maundy Service
Where | Recreation Building
The Thursday before Easter is the day when Jesus celebrated his final Passover with his disciples. Mark this day with our Maundy Service.
Bring a dessert to share on our dessert buffet after the service; we’ll provide the coffee.

Friday, April 14:

3 p.m. - 8 p.m. | Easter Bonnet Contest
Where | Recreation Building

Every Easter outfit just looks better topped with a traditional Easter bonnet. Create your own bonnet for a chance to win a prize (and bragging rights) as the best Easter bonnet in the campground.

TIP: Aim to be different. “People like uniqueness,” Horner said. “They like to say, ‘aaahhh, that’s a great idea.”

Need inspiration? Check out our “All Things Easter” board on Pinterest for some festive ideas. 

This bonnet nabbed First Place in the 2016 Easter Bonnet Contest.

Drop off your finished bonnet in the Recreation Building between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday for judging. Ocean Lakes guests will vote for their favorite Saturday during the Easter Bunny Lunch. Winners will be announced at the beginning of the Magic Show on Saturday in the Recreation Center.

7 p.m. | Karaoke
Where | Center Stage
Belt out your favorite ballad, rock song, classic tune or rap! Come ready to perform or just sit back and enjoy your fellow campers performing.

Saturday, April 15:

11 a.m. | Lunch with the Easter Bunny
Where | Recreation Center
The Easter Bunny is throwing a lunch party complete with corn dogs, face painting, crafts and a photo booth. Kids ages 11 and under will get lunch (corn dog, chips, drink) on us. (Please parents, the meal is for the kids only!) 

Ha-Ha the Clown will be on hand for face painting (and this clown can paint all your Easter favorites or any character a child might want). We’ll also have a free craft for the youngsters.

Be sure to capture a souvenir photo of the fun! Our holiday-themed photo booth will give you the perfect backdrop.

2 p.m. | Easter Family Field Day
Where | Grassy area at the new Nature Center, behind Sandy Mart

Bring your family for a fun field day! Get a little exercise tackling a series of obstacles and enjoy games such as the Egg Spoon Balance. Winning families will get prizes! TIP: Wear sneakers and clothes you can easily move around in.

4 p.m. | Corn toss tournament
Where | Grassy area at new Nature Center, behind Sandy Mart

7 p.m. | Magic Show
Where | Recreation Center
Enjoy a night of illusions by the Grand Strand Magic Club

Sunday, April 16 (Happy Easter!):

6:45 a.m. | Sunrise Worship Service
Where | Three crosses at the beachfront, just south of the Observation Deck (If it rains, service will move to the Recreation Building)

How often do you get to attend a sunrise service right beside the beach? Bring your beach chair or roll up on your golf car for a traditional sunrise Easter worship service led by the Rev. Kirk Lawton. 

TIP: Arrive early, especially if you want a prime spot. Shoot to be there by 6:30 a.m.

9 a.m. | Regular Sunday Worship Service
Where | Recreation Center

10:15 a.m. | Bible Study
Where | Recreation Center

Easter Egg Obstacle Course
When | 2 p.m. for ages 1-3, 2:30 p.m. for ages 4-7, 3 p.m. for ages 8-11
Where | Grassy area at the new Nature Center, behind Sandy Mart

A new twist on the traditional Easter Egg Hunt!

Happy Easter! Thanks for choosing to spend the holiday with us. Enjoy your stay!


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

At times, the lazy river and Splash Zone will be open, but the slides may not be. 

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!