It is our BPKFL volunteers that make the full calendar of activities possible. Your support makes us who we are and we appreciate all you do while you are here. Here is a month-by-month account of our activities – October 2014 to September 2015 – and the volunteers that make them possible.
October is pretty easy. New arrivals are setting up their sites for the winter and everyone is happy to see everyone. We are happily finishing our fall projects. Fantasy Fest is fun and the Back to Reality dinner is pretty easy. It is all good and then….. November!
Joanie Cottrill and Lois Woolsey have water aerobics every morning except Sundays. Long Beach Road starts to get busy with walkers, runners and bikers. Vicki is winding up her Monday, Wednesday, and Friday exercise at 8:00am in the rec room. If you’re not awake yet, it’s best that you try for a nap before lunch.
November puts our holiday dinners front and center. All the rolling and filling, peeling and chopping, baking and carving, mixing and rising comes more quickly than you think. But certainly not before water aerobics, exercise class, walking, running, etc.; and that’s a very good thing, as it should be.
November is the start of bingo with Gloria and Bruce Appleton every Monday evening in the rec room and Shirley Bohen has euchre on Tuesday evening in December, and that of course if after Kay Annunziato has organized golf for December on Tuesdays in the early morning. Bridge doesn’t start officially until December and that’s lessons in the morning and game after lunch. Shirley Leppa has made bridge happen. In fact, we think she runs it underground in October and November.
Boats are in and some fishing is happening. On windy days with no one special in charge you will find a table or two of poker on the Palm Court. And when you’re sure nothing else is happening, check the liar’s bench to get the news around camp.
December brings many winter guests that have had Thanksgiving with their families and then start south. The sites that are left are for the winter guests that spend Christmas at home before coming south. They are quickly filled with families that spend only the holidays with us.
I may be looking through rose colored glasses; however, it seems to me that our regular winter guests treat the holiday guests like their own families. Joanie Cotrrill’s longest night of the year party is a social get together held on her site and Sun Beach. Everyone in camp is invited. It is just such a nice, easy evening in the midst of all the other holiday rush. It’s like a short vacation.
Not to forget, the Family Fishing Tournament starts mid-December. If holiday guests win, award buttons are mailed to them. The holiday families that join us insist upon helping with our usual happenings. The Christmas dinner, of course, on December 20th, sometimes caroling, the Christmas Eve skit (see theater review) and the Christmas carol dance with chocolate milk and cookies for the children and chocolate cherry vodka for the “big kids.”
We all enjoy Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus coming by boat to spend time with the children on Sun Beach for pictures, etc. They also give us some prime time during the Christmas Eve skit. We would like to challenge the Santa Claus world to find another location that has three generations of REAL Clauss’ to be their Santa.
In between the holidays, Vicki has crafts for all ages and we have a banana split night before our New Year’s Eve activities. We need to leave some time for fishing, beaching, water sports and sightseeing. For the holiday families, it must seem like a fantasy island with grandparents everywhere. For our regular guests that fill that grandparent role, they may feel like it was great to have the holiday families come, but it is also great to see them go! We don’t know this for sure, only guessing!
The energy at the New Year’s eve party and dance comes from volunteers. Joanie Krauss and Joanie Cottrel take command of running the hat contest and supervising the judging. Vinnie and Sue’s daughter Gina visits for the holiday and chooses the music for the dance contest. Judy and Tom Stykenain did the judging. (See awards and recognition.) And then the 2015 babies came (see theater review) to visit.
It’s a New Year and there is only time to take a couple of breaths before those volunteers are at it again. The art class on Mondays was originally called the “play art class” and was inspired by Kathy Conley, that class is now the real thing. Those that never did it before have their own show at the annual crafts show. Our own Rose Ogle, and a variety of other accomplished artists, volunteer to teach. Then there is Barb Zappulla’s drawing class this is very popular, especially for beginners.
If you’re not quite over the holidays, the air gun match will snap your right up into the real world. On Sunday January 11, this list of volunteers provided a safe environment for this very popular event. They are:
- Rich Mattice
- Rob Lancaster
- George Leppa
- Danny Millen
- Duck Boat Larry
- Dan Garber
- Shirley Leppa
- Joanie Krauss
- Janet Porter
- Bruce Porter
See awards and recognition for the names of the air gun match winners.
Thank heavens the air gun match is over in time for us to roll, cut and cool the homemade chicken and noodles for the block party that the volunteers in site 70’s and 80’s have for the entire park. Of course, it’s a potluck, so everyone brings something to add to the menu of chicken and noodles. Then it is dancing in the streets to the ever popular music of Shirley Clauss and Big Red. Next week is the special Big-O birthday event; see the theater review and recognition list for details.
Can you believe that the blood drive bus comes to our parking lot and even asks the volunteers for their blood! What can you do, they give!
A large group from the BPKFL goes to our local community theatre in Marathon several times a year and for a change, no one volunteers. We just sit back and allow ourselves to be entertained for a night. Halleluiah!
Our winter Family Fishing Tournament ends anywhere from the middle of January to the end of January, depending on the weather. The awards night this year was on January 29. For the event we were entertained by volunteers Steve Szarckops and Mary Sentineal. The prestigious Secretary of Fishing, Marion McSherry, was present on stage to assure all award buttons were properly presented (see awards and recognition) and fish chowder was served. Steve added a photography show to complete the evening. Steve wanted to remind all of the photographers out there that the photo contest entries should be a new shot from 2015 and 2016 and there are three regular categories:
- Local fish
- Local scenery and
- Local Nature.
He has added a new category called “Life at BPKFL” which will include scenes from around camp.
To end January with its usual miracle, Eva Saga our Vice Mayor and Jack, volunteered to provide a Hungarian feast to the entire camp. The meal was prepared and served on their rustic campsite. No, it is not pot luck. You are only allowed to bring a bowl. I can tell you a secret, Eva and Jack have been allowed the use of Joan’s large pots, containers and walk-in refrigerator to get the job done. However, this makes it no less of a miracle!
February is all of the same events, except for our special events. The Super Bowl Party with hot dogs and chili. Frank Giorlando volunteers to run the betting pool to add just the right football flavor. Chris Higgesbee, who is becoming extremely well known in the world of music, visits his aunt Mary Sentineal each winter with his family and he volunteers to put on a concert for the entire camp!
With the many tie dye shirts around camp from Vicki’s crafts, she thought a reggae dance might be just the thing to show them off. It was a very popular and fun evening.
The Second Hand Rose Luncheon is a ladies only event that is a pot luck lunch with pot luck outfits that we enter for Second Hand Rose awards. Volunteers host the entertainment and the contest. Without a doubt, Shirley Leppa was the star of this year’s event when she sang the song Second Hand Rose for us all. Of course, it never hurts when Mary Sentineal is your straight man.
The Valentines Dance and skit is a great event that is chock full of volunteers. Check the theater review for more information on this event. Volunteers from sites 50’s and 60’s hosted their block party in the rec room this year, due to weather. Shirley Clauss and Big Red set up the music and a good time was had by all.
The craft show was on February 21 and for the first time was open in the afternoon for public attendance. The evening hours are for BPKFL guests only. The BPKFL served their special “craft” to everyone for $1: a large slice of fresh, homemade pie and two scoops of ice cream. This event brings a large crowd to camp to see all our craft vendors.
The last day of February brought the Road Kill Party to Long Beach Road and Joan’s driveway. It’s the usual dinner of Bar-b-q sandwiches, homemade mac-n-cheese, slaw and a drink for $6. Beer is just fifty cents all evening and there is music and dancing in the road. Music is provided by Paul, a local musician who has become one of our usual entertainers. Vaughn Knowles, our ambassador from rustic camping, completely staffs and manages the food service with rustic camping volunteers for this event.
When March arrives some of our regular activities start to slow down. We know this is happening when everyone starts setting dates for thank you parties for the volunteers that lead the groups.
Our Big-O anniversary is held on March 4. A great time was had by everyone and you can read all about it in the theater review.
The pirates officially arrive at the BPKFL on Saturday, March 7 for the biggest block party of the year, hosting between sites 80’s and 90’s. What do we do? We don’t know, we do what the pirates tell us to do!
March 10 is Danny’s birthday. To celebrate his family serves cake in the rec room. Everyone knows Danny and if you don’t, ask your neighbor. Danny is our friend from Vernon Hills, IN that loves everyone in camp, unconditionally, every day. The new fire pit on Sun Beach was christened on Danny’s birthday.
We had another Sun Beach wedding in March, Nicki and Adam from the Clauss Clan on March 15th. Big Red officiated. Smiles all around and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely, whether they knew the bride or groom, or not.
For our St. Patrick’s Day party 2015, we installed a new Grand Marshall especially for the beer drinking contest, Bill MacCleary. He did a terrific job managing some of the unusual, new issues we faced like a pro. Retired Judge Bruce Appleton swore in the Grand Marshall’s staff. Diana Merlo and Frank Giorlando were line judges, Gary Betzold, Brad Brininger and Don Strauss were beer openers. Howard Belknap and Rob Lancaster delivered the beer and were responsible for any clean-up emergencies that might occur. Claire Sigle at the age of 83, still makes the trip down to drink in the contest. We’re thinking of getting her a wheelchair next year so she can get from the beer to the finish line even faster, since drinking fast is not a problem for Claire! The evening finished with dancing and a little more beer drinking. And wouldn’t you know that ALL the staff at this event were volunteers! Amazing!
March wouldn’t be complete without a banana split party for the Spring Breakers.
The last block party for the winter guests is always known as Clark’s birthday party and is always held on Sun Beach. Why is it known as Clark’s birthday party? Because Clark and Jean Sanford have wintered on Sun Beach for 25 years (at least), and Clark’s birthday is March 22. This is the first winter that Clark and Jean could not be here for what we hope is a temporary health problem. But, we had Clark’s birthday just the same on March 22. Shirley Clauss and Big Red volunteered to do the music and after dinner we danced under the stars. Things were just slightly a little flat without Clark and Jean.
The Hermit Crap races are next on the schedule but were canceled for a second year for lack of crabs, maybe next year. Instead, we had a Sunset Rum Happy Hour with wings on the pool deck to console the absence of the crabs.
The lost and found Fun Fund auction is a fun night and it is exactly what it is named. Each year we auction the items left by our guests for a year that we have not been able to find or return to their owners. 2015 was the year for our men volunteers to be the auctioneers. The auctioneer is only as good as the back crew that preps the merchandise. The funds from the auction go into the Fun Fund and the money is spent on fun things for everyone to enjoy.
Steve Suavckopf and Keith Stout auctioneered and Mike Conley handed them the merchandise. Steve says that without Mike, he and Keith could not do their jobs. Steve’s helpers were Danny Millen, Joanie Krauss, Bill Booth and Sue, Ron Krecioch and Carol, Alan Thompson and Lori, and Frank Giorlando and Marian. The girls unpack all the year’s supply of lost and founds in the afternoon and the guys work the floor at night. Kevin and Steve asked for fifty cents so many times, that the auction raised $857. In fact, guests were able to enjoy complimentary fresh popped popcorn all evening courtesy of Glen’s new, red popcorn machine that was purchased with Fun Fund money.
We had another Sun Beach wedding in March. Nikki and Adam from the Clauss clan got married on March 15. Big Red officiated the ceremony.
At the end of March, most of the volunteer events have ceased and guests are busy having their last dinners and visits with friends. It is also the time when we have a small, in comparison to all they do, volunteer appreciation trip. We reserve seats for a theater show in Marathon for each volunteer for themselves, their spouses or a guest. This year we gave out 46 tickets, it was our largest group ever!
Try and guess the one thing a volunteer does that is appreciated by 100% of the guests. Of course it is Lois Woolsey’s camp contact list. Lois takes the time to compile this list so everyone can stay in touch. Thank you Lois, and all our volunteers, for all you do. It is your efforts that help to make the BPKFL the special place it is.
April is here and Easter was on April 5 this year. So we had to hustle to get together the homemade sticky buns, fruit, program, choir, and get the Easter eggs colored. Mary Sentineal and Shirley Leppa, as always, colored around 1,000 eggs for the Easter Bunny to deliver. All of this work is for our Easter Sunrise Service and complimentary breakfast on Sun Beach. We had two new volunteer bunnies this year that woke in the middle of the night to help put out the dozens and dozens of eggs on every campsite in the park. They are Pat and Don Strauss.
May begins to get everyone excited for the fishermen to return for the Dolphin and Tarpon fishing seasons. We think of May as our adult summer month, before the schools close and the families come down to stay. May also has our largest summer holiday, Memorial Day, which includes a dance, banana split party, and many popular crafts for all ages. We also have the weekly Largest Dolphin and Largest Overall contest for the month. See awards and recognition for details.
Happy hours with sunset rum frozen drinks are usually held twice a week on the pool deck. Everyone likes to come out, relax and catch up on the day’s catches over one of our frozen drinks. After all, it is adult month, and what better way to enjoy it?
June is just like May, except school is out and the camp is full of laughter. Our Air Gun Match was the only special event in June. We had 41 shooters at the event. Several volunteers gave of their time to make it safe for everyone, they are:
Alan and Meilissa Brown acted as greeters, Joan conducted the shooting education, Jed and Brian handled the guns, Captain Steve and Chris were the target placers, Susan Quakenbush and Bob Padfield were our scorers, and Kathy Padfield did the score posting. Check the awards and recognition for details.
The 4th of July is a great time to be on Big Pine Key. Locals put on a spectacular fireworks show that you can watch from the waters off of Picnic Island. If you don’t know where that is, you can ask anyone in camp and they can give you directions. We also hosted a banana split night and a dance.
Pool happy hours and Vicki’s crafts are in full swing while we are waiting for our lobster season guests to arrive. The Sunday before the opening of mini-lobster season (which is always on Wednesday), there is a guest appreciation dinner hosted by the Gladwells for everyone in camp.
The lobster hops include a skit (see theater review), awards and a dance at both the mini-hop and the regular season hop. This year we held both of these dances outside on the shuffleboard court, and it was a huge success. There was music and lots of happy people on the dance floor. Of course, we ended our dance with our traditional “Proud to be an American” tribute.
For largest lobster, see awards and recognition.
As soon as school starts, the park begins to thin and we have the now-traditional pig roast on Sun Beach as the big, summer grand finale. The pig roasting is done compliments of Jed and Stacy. Joan does the beans and rice and key lime pies, and the guests do a potluck for the rest. Who made the carrot cake, was a popular question. The answer? The Lowenthal family, and you can get the recipe next year.
As the park becomes emptier we do the yearly maintenance and become anxious to see the familiar faces of our winter guests. Rick and Nancy Jess from North Palm Beach, Mike Davis from Jacksonville, Dwight and Linda Kennet from West Palm Beach, and Sheila and Buck Basnight from Ruskin, Florida and Willie Ridgeway from Moorehaven, are all monthly summer guests that have stayed later, even into October. On top of that, the first of our winter guests arrived in September. Our mayor Pam Frances and Jim were the first to get here and their arrival has helped to smooth out our “lonesome time” between seasons
Two surprises arrived in the midst of lobster season this year: Judy and Tom Styieman from Ohio and Harry and Rose Smith from Beverly Hills, Florida, two of our longtime winter guests. What a treat to share our summer activities during their short visits.
Bill Horner boasted about staying at the BPKFL for 50 years. He did this with a large banner on the canal side of motel #2. Bill has picture proof of being here when he was nine and he’s now 59. Bill, of Jessica and Bill from Lutz, Florida, come for the opening of lobster season. Bill admits that they were not here every year of the 50, however, I can’t remember any of our 43 years that there wasn’t a Horner here. I believe this will bring Gordon and Delores Treece out with their family numbers.
Harold Colson has not missed the opening of lobster season for as long as we can remember until this year. Just so you know Harold, you were the most often asked question. Where’s Harold? Try to make it next year! To our knowledge, the Doug Block family from Bonita Springs rang the generation bell for this summer with their four generations, all camping, of course.
Both mini and regular lobster season had totally flat seas and high heat almost every day, and this continued through Labor Day. The water was so wonderful that everyone stayed out on the water until late and it affected attendance to our Labor Day events, banana splits and a dance. Sunset happy hour with rum on the pool deck was only “slightly affected” by the great weather. The fire ring on Sun Beach saved our social lives. You could always find someone there late at night to share the daily events with.
Before we leave summer, we need to talk about our Sun Beach weddings which were all very romantic. Amanda Biss married Justin and their wedding was followed by one of the nicest receptions ever seen in our rec room. Bucky Long married Jamie at Ft. Jefferson while they were here for mini-season. Of course, the bride wore a long, white dress and our Bucky was in a tux.
Captain Steve Heichen married Chrissie, and the best part was that he sang to the bride as she walked down the aisle. Her father wasn’t able to be there, so why not have Bear Bowerman do the honor of walking the bride down the aisle? It was perfect.
Allan Brown proposed to Melissa Loving on August 2nd while they were here. We suggested a Sun Beach wedding, however, Allan declined because he couldn’t sing! Congratulations to our extended family for all the wedding joy!
Family and staff are all busy taking vacations before Fantasy Fest. Parade night this year will be Saturday, October 31st, so for the first time ever, our Back to Reality dinner will be held on Sunday, November 1st.