~Shared by Tammy Compton
Late author and WWI Veteran Joyce Kilmer definitely understood. It’s in the lines of his poem entitled, “Trees.” 12 lines that describe the beauty of God’s creation.
“I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree . . .”
A safe haven for woodland creatures and a perennial providing oxygen to the masses, trees are so much more than beautiful. In fact, Environment Canada, Canada’s environmental agency, says, “On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can produce enough oxygen for a family of four.”
Breathe that in.
That’s what someone said to me the other day at Woodloch. The sun was shining, a gentle breeze blowing, and the resort was alive with families having fun. Woodloch family member and owner, Bobby Kiesendahl, happened to walk past me on the footpath, stretched his arms wide, and said words to that affect. Knowing that he has battled and conquered cancer make his words that much more meaningful. “Grateful to be alive,” was the message that I got.
It’s too easy to take life for granted. To take the birds and the breeze and the trees for granted.
The other day, Woodloch treated the reservations department to a scenic boatride
around Lake Teedyuskung, a peaceful way to kick back and relax, a team-building activity to be sure.
Woodloch family member and owner, Steve Kiesendahl, was our courteous captain, regaling
us with stories about his youth.
“When I got here, I was two-years-old. And John (his brother, Woodloch’s CEO John Kiesendahl) was 11. I remember when I was old enough to go in the woods that we used to build forts, and we had a tree house. It was such a big part of what we loved about this area, because we moved from Long Island where it was one development after another. Even though I was very young, I remember feeling the adventure of being in the woods.”
By age 11, he had a faithful horse named Trigger, a beautiful brown and white Pinto, and the two took young Woodloch guests on trail rides throughout the property.
Time passed, as it always does, and Steven’s love of the area continued to grow. “When I was a little older, my family lived in the apartment above the North Lodge which had a beautiful view of the lake. I used to go out on the roof of the apartment to think, pray and collect my thoughts about life. It was actually a very spiritual place for me. When I looked at the trees along the lake, I felt a connection with God, nature and a special bond with the trees.
“I remember when a tree would die, I felt bad because it changed my view of things. You would think about that; trees die too. And you would think about life. You got attached to looking out at that same view, and when it changed, it was sad,” Steven said.
The Woodloch family is great stewards of God’s land. They do all that they can to conserve and preserve. Each year, they set aside $20,000 to plant new trees at both Woodloch Pines and their gated golf community Woodloch Springs. “When we built Woodloch Springs, that was 1989 to 1991, we won the National Good Year Environmental Award (in 1991), which is a
national award for developers who develop sensibly and keep the integrity of the environment,” John said.
“Our guests that come here would not find the peace and tranquility that they now find and that they seek without the trees, the shade, and the woodland all around us. The integrity of the environment, whether it be trees or lake or grass or streams, is critical to the success of Woodloch really and close to my heart,” John said. “Everyone today is starting to take a more global look at our planet and where they live. And more and more people every year are living on this planet. And we have to take better care of it. So, I think the environment is critical.
“Keeping it green, recycling all that we can recycle, and trying to conserve our natural resources are all key steps when it comes to being better stewards of the earth,” John said.
Would his parents, Woodloch founders Mary and Harry Kiesendahl, be proud of what Woodloch looks like today? “My parents would be very proud. They would never have imagined what it would look like. I bought the business in 1981. We had 120 guest rooms. We had about 100 staff; 250 (guest count) was probably a full house.
“My dad saw it grow. He grew it from nothing. He really is the one who had the courage and the vision to s
.ay, ‘Let’s try this.’ And then, I just built on his foundation,” John shared.
“I think he would be very proud of the nature and natural beauty that we have and protecting it. He would be very in tune with that, as would my mom. She was the lover in the group. She loved everything.”
The natural, spring-fed lake is what originally attracted his parents to the area, John said. “Woodloch treated the lake with an alum treatment six years ago to preserve and cut down on some of the algae that most lakes get; that was a quarter-million-dollar project. So, it was a big project for us. We worked with the people around the lake, and Woodloch took care of a good majority of it. And everyone agreed to do it.”
“Because we grew up here, I think it’s not just a business decision. Someone else might say, ‘We can’t lose the lake, or why would people come here?’ We love the lake. We feel like it’s part of our home. I guess that’s how we treat the whole business. We still have that sense that it’s our home, not just a business,” Steven said.
As he thought about Woodloch and hopes for its future, Steven said, “I would like to keep it this pristine, mountain-lake environment. And be sort of an oasis for the rest of the world that seems to just keep going crazy.”
And even though we’ve expanded, a lot of people tell us it still has that ‘welcome home’ kind of feel. Even though we went from 30 guests to 1000 guests, that personalized hospitality, we’ve been able to maintain that. And that’s also because of the number of staff that have been here over the years. They get to know more than just the family but also our extended
family. I’d like to see that personalized clean-living environment stay because I think it’s rare. It’s becoming more and more rare, and I’d hate to see that go away.”