By: Jeff Sweitzer
Park President

Hello Sandy Pines family! It is March already. This means the madness of March! Well, our version of the madness of March does not entail basketball brackets or pools. It does focus on the mad dash to complete projects, hiring open positions and finalizing plans for our 2021 50th Anniversary Season.


February brought us a successful, yet modified WinterFest. At last tally, we had 100+ members in the park on Saturday, February 13th to enjoy the great winter wonderland Sandy Pines offers. It brought a smile to my face watching families sled, paint the snow with their tie-dye color bottles, play on the playgrounds, circle around the fires or just walk around playing in the snow. A Big Thank You to Curly Near who watched over the fires by the beach. Due to social distancing, we broke one large fire into a couple smaller fires that families could huddle around to keep warm. Thank You to PSO Director Keith Garvelink, PSO Chris Munley and PSO Mike Veldcamp for watching over the event to ensure safety and rules were followed. We received many comments that our PSO Team was welcoming and engaging with the families at WinterFest. Thank you to Nikki Hoogewind and
her crew for staffing the Happy Shack serving free hot chocolate and popcorn. We saw many kids and parents warming up with a hot cup of cocoa. Lastly, Thank You to James Hadley and his scout troop 331B & G for volunteering to hand out supplies to families wanting to play tic-tac snow or color the snow. This was done after they braved the frigid Friday night camp out in Phase
3 to successfully complete their Polar Bear badge activities. The troop of young men and women did an awesome job! This year’s Winter Fest was modified from years’ past due to COVID-19, but fun was had by all.

Season Preparation

Our staff has returned to normal office hours and structure. This allows us to continue to prep for our season opening which cannot be done remotely. We are back in the office 4 days a week and 1 day remote if needed. I know our staff would appreciate a quick note, email or phone call with a Thank You or Thinking of You while they are working hard to get everything ready for your return. The Maintenance team led by Ben continue to do an excellent job completing projects throughout the park. Rental cabins continue to get updated and improved. The fitness center has a new floor installed just in time for its opening. Please review Steve Deyarmond’s article for the capacity and COVID guidelines that must be followed in order to use the fitness center. When you return, check out some of the signage updates made throughout the park.

Handbook Rules

Last year as we all know was a very challenging year. Our focus was opening the park, maintaining COVID-19 rules and protocols and with that some of our other Handbook rules were gracefully over looked. We have seen a spike in violations over the last couple of months with members and associates not adhering to our Handbook rules. Our PSO Team will get back to basics by holding all of us accountable to the rules we agreed to honor. Please review your Handbooks. We know it is against the rules to hand out member cards to non-members to access the park. We also know it is against the rules to allow guests in the park without members being present in the park. Our rules are in place to protect all of us as well as to allow us to enjoy our Happy Place safely. Please be kind, courteous and understanding as we get back to following our Handbook in 2021.

FEMA Building

The opening of our new FEMA building remains on track. Windows which were delayed due to supply chain issues resulting from COVID are finally installed. The finishing touches are being done with a final walk-through taking place this month. Occupancy is targeted for the end of March 2021. Once we have the final occupancy approved, Kentwood Office furniture will be delivery and installing furniture throughout the building. We are excited to show this space to our members as well as our local and state government officials who helped to make this happen for Sandy Pines.

Cart Bridge Project

We continue to progress with this project. The team met with Allegan County Road commission to receive approval on the submitted plans. This project will be bid differently than the FEMA project as our cart bridge is privately funded, sourced project. Bids are out with two requested completion timeframes: May 2021 and November 2021.

March Board of Directors Meeting

This month we will be meeting with our board of directors to discuss many topics in prep for the season. Our Lake Study Committee has met to again provide recommendations to the board to hit the ground running with projects to protect our lake as well as make it safer for all to enjoy. We would like to Thank Jim Buchanan for stepping up to lead the Lake Study Committee in replacement of Stephanie Saypannha who moved into a board of director role. Jim will do an excellent
job leading this committee for Sandy Pines. We
are excited to get to work on these recommended

We will also provide additional information to the board regarding the IT project and upgrades. Our IT assessment team and Technology Committee Chair met with DPT Solutions. DPT presented through solution through Office 365 Dynamics. Their information presented during our meeting will be presented to the board with a solution provider recommendation.

50th Anniversary Sponsorships

Our 50th Anniversary committee continues to book excellent events for our entire season long celebration. We thank the Chapel committee for allowing the use of their area for some of our planned events. Currently our funding is at approximately $28,000 which is a slight increase from January. Please review our sponsor kits or reach out to our new Marketing and Communications Manager Ian Mitchell for more information.

Lastly, we are in the midst of our Lent season. Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Our household used to view the sacrifice as giving something up such as chocolate, soda or vegetables were at the top of our kids’ list when they were young. Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice for us all with his life. Our approach to Lent changed over the years to, “how can we become closer to Jesus Christ to honor his ultimate sacrifice?” This could be spend more time in prayer with Him, volunteer to help those in need by adopting a family, safely lead a bible study via Zoom or in a large enough room to socially distance or more devotions and less Netflix. Our approach tried to focus on Jesus’ wish to build a stronger relationship with Him. If that is done by giving up chocolate or spending more time with Him in prayer or in service of him and for him, then chose that path for the next 40 days in honor of Him. Be blessed over this Lent season.

God Bless!

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