Saturday, May 23, 2015

Part Two

Some time ago, I wrote about what you might expect if you were going to visit a retreat center (or send your kids to camp). A fairly large number of people have apparently read that post (it's #3 in my top ten list) and I've actually gotten some feedback from folks in person. Which is kind of bananas.

Today, I'd like to address some of the questions and comments we get around here, including a bunch of them that annoy me. Why? Because I'd love to stop getting some of them and this is a chance to address them with a bit more honesty (and good nature, hopefully) than I can sometimes muster when they come up in person.

I do feel it necessary to point out that all of these have come up more than once ... and that my opinion might not reflect anyone else's. Although it usually does.

This is an old picture. I can tell because right now the creek is really
more of a river...
I had no idea you were open year round!
It's true! We are! And the fact that you say this while standing in front of me in November drinking hot chocolate ... and this is the third time I've seen you this year ... tells me you're not paying much attention.

Is __ building heated?
This is South Dakota. Yes. We don't want frozen pipes anywhere. Although our creekside cabins aren't -- but odds are you aren't asking about those. And I don't put people in the creekside cabins in the winter, no matter how much I might want to sometimes.

Is __ building air conditioned?
... Probably not. I mean, maybe. But probably not. Remember, we're a church camp first.

But we really wanted to be in [name of cabin/lodge/etc]...
Here's how this works. First, buildings are first-come, first-served -- I will not move a group so you can get your preference. Second, each cabin or lodge has a certain capacity. If your group has more people than that, you will end up elsewhere. (Especially if you're here with a camp.) If your group is mostly kids and you have supervision requirements, you will end up in a suitable spot that might not be your first choice (especially if your first choice was based on where you stayed when you were here with your family). If it snows and it's too difficult to get to the lodge at the top of the hill, we will put you elsewhere.

Trust us. Please.

What's for dinner?
I have no idea.

Oh! I didn't know you would be around.
Um ... we live here. And we don't have normal operating hours. Yes, someone is here.

I was expecting the answering machine!
Okay, I understand that calling at 10PM is a way to avoid having to talk to a real person, but I'll let you in on a secret: there is a phone in every residence on site. Which means we think maybe that 10PM call was in fact someone's kid/sibling/relative calling with an emergency. Which might explain why we sound less than amused when you were hoping to leave a message on voicemail.

[Related: Time zones, people. Time zones.]

We weren't sure you guys would be here on a weekend.
... Are we going to keep doing this?

Okay, full explanation: Ours is largely a weekend business. Nine months of the year, it's almost entirely a weekend business. Most people who come through seem to realize that one (after all, that's when you're here), but we get a decent chunk of people who don't connect our presence with the fact that they're getting three meals a day.

If you were wondering, yes, that comment does occasionally come from people standing right in front of us, not just phone calls.

Gosh, it must be wonderful to live here.
It is.

It must be vacation all the time around here!
Um, no.

No. Really, really no. If this were vacation all the time, I wouldn't clean up after anyone's dietary issues. Someone puking down the stairs wouldn't be my responsibility. Nor would making your laptop display to the television. I would sleep more. And I definitely wouldn't have to submit credit card receipts.

This is a job, specifically one where I take care of everyone else's vacation destination. It is not a vacation for me. I do live in my own little chunk of paradise, but that piece of paradise requires proper upkeep.

No one's in camp? Must be nice to have some time off.

There are only four of us here nine months of the year, and proper upkeep requires an empty camp. We can't renovate a room that someone's staying in. And if we're making three meals a day, we don't have time for the normal day-to-day stuff -- the planning, the bills, even (sometimes) the laundry. This is why my weekends usually fall on Tuesday and Wednesday, but like most of you, my job is still at least a 40-hour-a-week job.

Ashley! Hi! How are you? How's your brother?
Okay. Confession time.

I might not remember exactly who you are.

I pride myself on my memory. It's pretty solid on the names-faces-phone numbers front (I refer to it as an excellent stalker memory). But in the last two and a half years, I have seen around eight THOUSAND people come through here. (Not an exaggeration.) While a large number of those are repeat visitors, if you've only been through once, I might not be able to place you. If our conversation wasn't fairly extensive last time, I might not remember you exactly. If you call out of the blue and I can't see you, I might need a reminder of when you last visited.

That being said, I'm great! How are you? How was the drive?

How are the trails?
Oh, thank you for asking. Right now, they're a bit muddy in spots. If it snows, rains, or there has been other questionable weather, we appreciate you asking before you hit a trail. (Especially if you just turned up in the parking lot.)

We thought this was Mount Rushmore...
You're not funny.

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