Shadowcliff is a seasonal nonprofit lodge and educational retreat center, and as such we are only on site 5 months out of the year, but we are always connected and dedicated to the success of Grand Lake and the surrounding area. With this in mind, we will be sharing profiles of people and organizations around town that we consider partners in some way.
This time we are happy to share with you a bit about the amazing woman behind the Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, Samantha Bruegger, who moved from LA to the CO with the notion that life in the mountains was calling her. Years later, she is settled in Grand Lake, calling it her forever home where she and her husband Shawn are expecting their first child this fall.
Samantha, or Sam as most know her, came to Grand Lake from Los Angeles about four years ago. With a Masters in Environmental Policy from Pepperdine, she had been working in groundwater mitigation at a public affairs firm and needed a change. When asked if it was a big transition from LA to Grand Lake, she answered, “Yeah. It was. But I feel some people just know they belong in the mountains. I knew I wanted to find a home in the mountains. Grand Lake definitely is home.”
Looking to become a part of the community and to make a meaningful contribution through her work, she applied to and became the Marketing and Tourism Director for the Grand Lake Area Chamber. Not too long after, she stepped into the role of Executive Director, a full-time leadership position. As many folks in Grand County know, no matter your paying job, you often wear many hats. For Sam, this has meant continuing with her dedication to environmental advocacy first as a board member and then as the Development Director for the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust, and now through various efforts specific to water.
In her role as E.D. at the Chamber, Sam began working cooperatively with the Chamber Board of Directors to learn what sustainable growth looks like for the Grand Lake area. The result was a refreshed, simple focus to Promote a sustainable, year-round economy, which prompted the important question: What does a four-season economy mean for Grand County?
When Sam first arrived, even summer weekdays weren’t completely full. Part of the answer to the four-season economy question is to fortify the times that should naturally be the strongest. “It begins with really building out the summer, and then building out September and May as the ‘shoulder months.’ September is now one of our busiest months. Then, you grow from there.”
A grant from the Colorado Tourism Office through a partnership with other Colorado national park gateway communities has helped boost winter time activities, too. “They look to spread some of that busy summer traffic into other seasons like winter. Here in Grand Lake you can Nordic ski or snowshoe and see a part of the park you never see. It’s a really pristine and untouched environment to explore.”
How do you tell if you’re moving the needle? Car counts coming into town, City and County sales tax filings, web and social media traffic (visit them on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest), and the foundation of it all: checking in with the businesses of Grand Lake and learning what they know, such as capacity from lodging partners. Sam feels it important to measure the qualitative by asking her members, “How do you think you did this summer? Was traffic to your store up? If they’re feeling good that’s also a good indicator of growth.”
A first win for the four-season economy effort was the 2016 Ride The Rockies, a fundraising cycling event that takes cyclists on a route through various communities in the Rocky Mountains. An estimated 2,500 cyclists spent part of a beautiful June day and overnighted in town, before heading off along Trail Ridge Road early the next morning. “It let us test our capacity for larger events; how many people could we fit in town and how can we work together. It was a really good stress test,” she said. Even the cyclists themselves had glowingly positive feedback. “They loved Grand Lake – to have a bunch of people who’d never been here before, poll positively – it was a big win for us!” Sam added.
Standing by the belief that economically healthy communities are also environmentally healthy communities, the Chamber is now part a burgeoning effort called Outstanding Grand Lake (OGL), the home of #WeAreTheColorado and an educational resource specific to Grand Lake. Shadowcliff is proud to have been involved in the early stages of OGL and is thrilled to see it find a home within the Chamber. As the largest and deepest natural lake in the state, Grand Lake is an enormous asset, and the Chamber considers water resiliency and economic growth as working hand-in-hand.
Next time you’re in Grand Lake, be sure to swing by the Chamber building that sits right at the entrance of town. They’ll be able to give you some interesting information about the town and would love to hear what you hold most dear about Grand Lake. Be sure to say hi to Sam while you’re there!
by Jay Liebenguth
At Shadowcliff, we love a good love story and this one is as good as we’ve heard. (And, we’ve heard a few.)
But first, some introductions. In January, Hillary Mizia, Executive Director of Shadowcliff, named Susan & David Haverty as the new general managers, beginning this season. “They have a wide range of work experience that makes them uniquely qualified for Shadowcliff.” Hillary said. “Plus they are hella funny, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that humor is key,” she added.
Now, back to the story. Susan and David grew up in the same hometown (Ottawa, KS) and went to high school together.
They even had a “mostly forgettable” first date. “I’d call it the worst date ever,” said Susan. They both went their separate ways for college, and happened to meet up again six years later in Kansas City. They went out that night, and the next. And, the next one after that. They spent time together every day, for six months. Then they got married. It’s been almost 48 years of wedded bliss, as the saying goes. Susan reports that Dave says 25 happy years out of 48 isn’t bad!
They spent their years in careers and raising a family that kept them roaming the country. Dave’s jobs included time at International Harvester where he was the VP of Aftermarket Parts and a consulting position with Guinness Brewery that required a stay for a year in Jamaica. Susan worked in public relations and marketing for a utility company. At one point, she worked at a theme park called Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. (Yes, it’s a real place – I Googled it)
It was the first theme park in the nation, even before Disneyland and originally called Santa Claus Land. They also spent time raising three children and they’re looking forward to using their off-season from Shadowcliff to visit their 13 (and counting) grandchildren, stretching from Oklahoma and Kansas to North Carolina. Like any proud grandparents they’ll happily share details of their grandchildren’s involvement in sports, music, and art on both the high school and college levels.
Post career and raising a family, they have enjoyed managing guest experiences and expectations from the Rockies to the Midwest. They’ve operated RV parks and apartment complexes, and were tour guides at the Grand Canyon. When asked what these experiences have helped them to learn, Dave quoted the old adage, “’The customer may not always be right, but they are always the customer.’ You do what you have to do to make sure that the customer is satisfied.”
Susan and David assume that the first year will be an interesting learning-experience. When asked about the youthful staff, their eyes lit up. “We’ve had lots of staff in years past that were made up of younger people. We’ve been involved with youth groups, had volunteers and workers who were younger. We’re looking forward to that,” David said. They once ran a pumpkin patch/ Christmas tree lot in Santa Clarita, California. “We hired staff right off the street. And, we had these dire warnings from the owners that people would steal from us. But it was one the best experiences. We defied projections in pumpkins and didn’t lose a single Christmas tree,” Dave added. Susan is looking forward to meeting the young people that are passing through Shadowcliff both as staff and guests. “I’m most interested in hearing their stories,” she said.
When asked if this was just a stop-over for them, they both shook their heads, emphatically. “We’re not looking for a one-and-done as they say. We’re looking at a several year commitment on both sides,” David said. They found the ad in WorkingCouples.com that Hillary had placed just about the time they were ready to accept another position. They held off taking the other job until they had a chance to visit with Hillary and get a feel for the GM job.
“Dave and I think our age and experience, the things we’ve seen and done, will be a great fit for Shadowcliff,” Susan added.
We couldn’t agree more and hope you’ll join us in welcoming our new general management team!
Jay Liebenguth is a content strategist and producer, when he’s not volunteering at Shadowcliff on the Marketing team. He can be found online at LivewithJay.com or follow him on Twitter @LivewithJay.
by Jay Liebenguth
If you were putting together a list of attributes that you want in a General Manager at Shadowcliff, it would include some must-haves, some good-to-haves, and some nice-to-haves.
Thankfully, Karen Bellina seems to have it all.
Karen grew up in New Jersey, went to school in Pennsylvania, moved to Colorado after college and never left. She loves the mountains and has worked in mountain towns in a number of service positions for years.
This Shadowcliff love story is written by Karen Bigelow about her and her husband, David Grossman, and their Shadowcliff experiences over the years.
May is Volunteer Month at Shadowcliff. It’s the time of the year that we open up the lodge for the season, start cleaning and performing the maintenance that our facility requires to open by Memorial Day. Fighting off the ravages of time and climate takes talent and effort and hundreds of people, donating thousands of hours. We exist on the backs and in the hands of volunteers, and we thought we’d introduce you to a just couple of those who know a little something about serving at Shadowcliff.
by Brian Murphy
Shadowcliff is, for us, where everything we love convergences; extended family and friends, mountains and outdoor activities, quiet solitude and spiritual formation.
By Jay Liebenguth
Hillary Mizia, has been on the job as Shadowcliff’s Executive Director since last Fall. In fact, her initiation was the November Board Meeting. Thankfully her Quaker background makes her a self-professed ‘committee geek.’
by Hillary Mizia
By Carl Sniffen
Happy Holidays from Shadowcliff. Without volunteers, Shadowcliff would not exist. I’ve said that many times in the past, and I hope that I’ll be saying it for decades to come. To borrow loosely from Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol,” let’s take a look at Shadowcliff volunteers past, present and future.
Judith and I found Shadowcliff on our own honeymoon in 1977. It was love at first site! Since that very first exciting visit we have known that Shadowcliff is a special place of the heart where friendship and romance are found and often blossom into lifelong love affairs. Certainly that is our story as we returned each year with our children and now with our grandchildren. Our years as on site Directors brought us ever closer to one another as friends, partners and lovers. Over the next few months we want to share with you a few of the ongoing Shadowcliff love stories from guests and staff. The first is from two very special people, Adam and Aubrey Beals, who were part of our staff in 2010 and later were married at Shadowcliff in 2012.
Shadowcliff has always been an important place to the Beals family. Nancy Jorn and Stu Beals helped with the original construction with Warren Rempel in the ‘70s. They came out for a few summers when they were first dating and fell in love in the Rocky Mountains, especially Lake Verna! Years later, they brought their sons Adam and Dave annually to stay in Riverbend so the young family could explore the banks of the Tonahutu, hike the loooooong hike (for little legs) up to Adams Falls, and roast marshmallows in the fire pit of Rempel Lodge. Knowing the Beals’ long devotion to Shadowcliff, I was nervous to spend the summer of 2010 there with Adam Beals as his girlfriend and fellow staffer. We had been dating for two years and it was time to put our love to the test on the third floor of Rempel. Would I love this place as much as Adam and his family? And, more importantly, can partners co-habitat in a 14 foot wide bedroom without wanting to break up or kill each other?!
Long story short, that summer was the best summer of our lives. Adam and I spent three giddy months in the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park and in the warmth of the Shadowcliff family. We grew closer as we took runs on North Inlet, tromped up Longs, and shared ice cream from Grand Lake’s boardwalk. This time allowed us to reflect on our devotion to each other and to create shared memories that lasted much longer than our acclimatization to living at 8,500 feet! Shadowcliff provided a space for us to plan a shared future. But more than the incredible location and the time away from “real life”, Bob and Judith, Skelly and Judy, JJ, Mari the cook, and all our fellow staffers and guests built a loving community that nourished our relationship and accepted Adam and me as life partners. Two years later, we decided to return to Shadowcliff to exchange vows in the presence of our closest family and friends. It was only appropriate that Bob Mann officiated because I think he knew long before we did that we would choose the path of marriage.
We loved sharing this special place with our friends and family. And, we are eager to share it with our future kiddos who we can bring to Shadowcliff to unwind and connect with such a thoughtful, nurturing community.
— Aubrey Beals
August 2 was a wonderfully special day for Shadowcliff. We celebrated and remembered the life of Shadowcliff co-founder Warren Rempel. The Shadowcliff Chapel was filled with family members, long-time friends, colleagues and others. Sharing stories and memories, people laughed, cried, embraced and sang. It was a joyous time.
Many words were used to describe Warren during the celebration: friend, inspiration, mentor, Father, Grandfather, Husband and curmudgeon. Daughter Sue shared Warren’s comment to her, “Don’t let your Mother tell them I was all sugar sweet, but that in the end, I always did what I believed in.”
So many memories and thoughts were shared by family and friends who spoke of Warren’s great love of people and how he made people better. Warren maintained a life-long intolerance of injustice and bigotry. He appreciated place, nature and a strong sense that as individuals, we are all connected to the natural world. To underscore Warren’s life-long commitment of advocacy and involvement, Warren’s last letter to his Congressmen was written with Sue’s help two weeks before he died.
Warren Rempel was remembered as a man who touched and taught so many lives. A man who served as a constant reminder through his words and deeds of how good humanity can be. Without question, Warren left the world in a better place.
Many know of Warren and Patt’s vision to create Shadowcliff as a mountain sanctuary where people could go to “recycle your spirit and come alive in the mountains.” It took 17 summers, more than 600 volunteers from 42 countries, and lots of blood, sweat and tears to bring the vision alive.
Some may not know that in the 1960’s, Warren stood tall against racism in Manhattan, Kansas, even going so far as cutting up choir robes to create arm bands as a symbol of protest. Attending protests was a family activity for the Rempels during those times.
In the 1980’s, Warren led the charge to keep casinos from entering the Town of Grand Lake, a challenge made more difficult in tough economic times with the gambling industry promising jobs and revenues. Sue Rempel recalls her Father telling her, “Can you imagine not seeing the stars at night and instead seeing the twinkling of casino lights?” I certainly can’t, and I am grateful.
Later in the 1980’s and beyond, Warren and Patt responded to their son Scott’s death from AIDs by creating and promoting a series of HIV workshops and retreats, programs intended to educate and support individuals impacted by this disease and recognize the dignity of all individuals. Shadowcliff’s HIV workshops continue to this day.
Before he died, Warren created his Shadowcliff celebration. His Family faithfully and lovingly carried it out. The musical selections say much about Warren, nearly as much as the words and memories. What did we hear? What words of song filled the Chapel rafters: Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Simply Bach,” and as guests left the Chapel, the theme from Man of La Mancha, “(To Dream )The Impossible Dream,” more commonly known as the story of Don Quixote.
Bob Mann, who with his wife Judith, so capably followed Warren and Patt as Shadowcliff co-directors offered another quote from the Man of La Mancha: “Too much sanity may be madness, but maddest of all—to see life as it is and not as it should be. “ As noted above and below, Warren understood the world as it is but never lost sight or avoided the opportunity to create a world as it should be.
The term “legacy” was used by a number of speakers throughout the program, many examples of which are described above. Perhaps the greatest legacy of Warren and Patt is the Rempel Family gift of Shadowcliff to a nonprofit organization. As Bob Mann noted, “This selfless, loving and sacred offering of Shadowcliff—giving something of such great value away—is the true legacy.”
For those of us who have found Shadowcliff as a place to renew, reflect, create and reconnect with nature, thank you Warren and Patt. For those of us who have come to Shadowcliff and learned something about ourselves or the natural world around us, thank you Warren and Patt. For those of us who believe that Shadowcliff is indeed a sacred place filled with the energy and spirit of all those who have visited Shadowcliff , thank you Warren and Patt. For those of us who marvel at the many images of Don Quixote found at Shadowcliff and dream of a world as it could be, thank you Warren and Patt.
Finally, one last quote from Warren’s celebration: “Warren is here, and he always will be here.” Enough said.
by Carl Sniffen
As many of you know, Shadowcliff founder Warren Rempel passed away on December 27,2013. Those of us who love Shadowcliff and the Shadowcliff experience will always be grateful to Warren for his dreams and his commitment to make them come true.. As part of our way of remembering Warren, I’ve been asked to write about him as part of a two part blog. What a challenge—to write about a man who has impacted so many others for so many years, a man whose dream and vision built Shadowcliff, a place that has inspired many more.
Shadowcliff’s 2014 season has been underway for nearly a month now. In May, we also had the privilege of hosting a very special event: the dedication of our Laws of Nature Interpretive Trail in honor of our former directors Bob Mann and Judith Christy. Beyond being a beautiful day and successful event, I was overwhelmed by the multitude of personal and ecological narratives that were woven together in front of my eyes throughout the afternoon.
Shadowcliff Announces the Bob Mann and Judith Christy Laws of Nature Interpretative Trail Dedication Ceremony May 31st
(Grand Lake, CO) – Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge, an eco-friendly mountain sanctuary that has been serving Grand Lake visitors for over 30 years, will be hosting a Dedication Ceremony of The Bob Mann and Judith Christy Laws of Nature Interpretative Trail on Saturday May 31st from 2:00-5:00 p.m. The general public is welcome. Please RSVP at 970-627-9220.
During their tenure at Shadowcliff, from 2001-2011, Bob and Judith served as co-directors of the lodge and began organizing and hosting cutting-edge sustainability workshops. What brought businesses and governments to the workshops was the notion that by seeking sustainable, resilient solutions, organizations could modify business practices in a way that would be beneficial to people and the planet while at the same time creating opportunities to bolster the organization’s bottom line. In other words, organizations learned how to adopt sustainable and resilient business practices that have postive impacts on people, the planet and profit.
“Bob and Judith have been an integral part of the Shadowcliff story. Their leadership has inspired countless individuals and organizational leaders to create positive, sustainable change. The installation of the Laws of Nature Trail is one way for us to honor and ensure their legacy lives on.” Lance Woodbury, Shadowcliff Board President.
The dedication will be at Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge, 405 Summerland Park Road (Grand County Road 663) in Grand Lake with celebrations to begin with a formal trail dedication ceremony at 2:30 p.m. A reception will with light refreshments follow in the Remple Lodge. Guided tours of the Laws of Nature Interpretative Trail will be provided from 3:00-5:00 p.m. RSVP is required please call (970-627-9220 or email email@example.com to register for the festivities.
Shadowcliff is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to be, An eco-friendly mountain sanctuary where together we are creating a climate for a restorative world. As a sanctuary, Shadowcliff provides a safe place for personal and community retreat and renewal. Shadowcliff visitors are educated about sustainability and encouraged to reconnect with the natural world. Educational opportunities are provided to all of guests and especially through groups and workshop experiences, many of which are conducted by Shadowcliff faculty. To learn more visit shadowcliff.org or call 970-627-9220.
Shadowcliff is a nonprofit organization. Our mission: Shadowcliff is an eco-friendly mountain sanctuary where together we are creating a climate for a restorative world. We work hard to meet our mission in virtually everything we do: workshops, our compassionate kitchen, hosting educational groups, and providing educational information and materials to all of our guests. We try to talk the talk and walk the walk by minimizing our footprint however and whenever we can, by reusing, recycling and making the best decisions we can when it comes to purchasing supplies and equipment. We owe this to our future generations.
Shadowcliff was built by volunteers and sustained over the years by volunteers and generous donors. The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well at Shadowcliff. This occurs not only through the many volunteers who provide valuable time and service to Shadowcliff but our staff continue to volunteer in many ways in and around Grand County and their home locations. As a nonprofit, Shadowcliff remains dependent upon the generosity and support of our volunteers and donors. That isn’t going to change.
We are currently recruting volunteers and staff for the last few weeks of our season. Come join us: work for us and play with us. It’s the best time of the year to visit. If you are interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
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