Contact UsStanford Sierra Conference Center
P.O. Box 10618
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158 Physical Address:
130 Fallen Leaf Road
Fallen Leaf, CA 96150
One of the best ways for a company to improve and grow is through feedback from its customers. Feedback with praise lets a company know what they’re doing right, while negative or constructive feedback tells a company about problems or issues (ongoing or new) that can be improved.At Stanford Sierra Conference Center (SSCC), we give all of our guests an opportunity to supply us with feedback about their stay. After a group departs, we provide them with one of two ways to let us know how we’re doing. A handful of our program attendees receive paper surveys at check-out while we email electronic surveys to attendees of most events. Almost all of our departments benefit from these surveys, especially our kitchen, maintenance and housekeeping. Having a guest mention a squeaky door, a tree branch scratching a roof, a burned-out light bulb or a running toilet is a great way for us to gain knowledge when it comes to general maintenance and upkeep. While we do our best to keep an eye on everything around Camp, without actually sleeping in a cabin, it’s hard to know what small details can make someone’s stay better. Over the past few years, we saw two things continue to appear on our surveys as items for improvement. The need for stronger and more consistent wireless internet was the most mentioned, while providing more gluten-free food options was the second. SSCC has made big strides in both of these areas. In the past two years, SSCC has added four more T1 lines, bringing the total to eight. T1 lines increase bandwidth, making internet faster. In addition to faster internet, cabins on the east side of Camp have had Ethernet cables hardwired to them, which increases signal strength and helps to eliminate dead zones in cabins. More improvements will continue next year with the last set of cabins becoming hardwired. In the dining room, gluten-free bread is now readily available at breakfast and our hiker bar. In addition to increased bread options, most entrees on the buffet hot carts are gluten-free. Our chefs have made purposeful changes to many of their classic dishes to limit the number of items containing gluten on the hot cart. Our staff will be happy to point out items that do and don't contain gluten. Surveys are also a great way to boost staff morale! SSCC prides itself in having professional, helpful and friendly staff members. Weekly staff meetings include shout-outs for specific staff members from surveys as well as overall staff compliments. Praise for a job well done is always motivation to continue providing the highest level of service. Looking back at the last season of survey responses, I see quite a few that are helpful. Our website could include better information for individuals who need ADA accommodations, and tips for combating altitude sickness would also be helpful.The expression “It never hurts to ask,” is what comes to mind when I read some of our survey responses. And it’s true-- it never hurts to ask, but there are some things we just can’t control. Suggestions like “heat the lake, ” “more chocolate!” and “less wind” always make me smile. So whether it’s negative feedback, positive feedback, or a rather large request, let us know! We can't make any promises, but we'll try. Our surveys help us to improve our facilities, our service and our overall programming.
Have you ever looked back at a photo and thought: "Hmm, it was so much prettier in person!" ? I have definitely thought that, and I'm never sure if it's me, my camera or that photography can be hard to perfect! On a mission to take awesome photographs at Fallen Leaf Lake, I sought out Camp's summer photographer, Brooke Davis for a few tips.This is Brooke's third summer at Sierra Camp, and she'll be back for a fourth summer next year as the summer staff director. After two summers of teaching people how to wakeboard and water ski, she was tasked with capturing Camp’s special moments in photographs this past summer. Her work culminates each week with a 25-minute slideshow of the week’s highlights. As a child, Brooke used to write storybooks and illustrate them with her photographs. She also took a lot of fishing and sports action photos-- activities that she and her family enjoyed together. What is Brooke’s favorite thing to photograph at Camp? People! Brooke enjoys taking both portraits, and candid photos of Camp’s guests. She uses a Nikon D300 with a big zoom lens, but she promised me that either a camera phone or point and shoot digital camera can produce good photos.
After twelve wonderful, but long weeks of Stanford Sierra Family Camp, there is one last hurrah for the Stanford student summer staff before they head back to campus: Kids Camp! In early September, more than 100 fifth and sixth graders, along with approximately 15 chaperones, arrive at Camp for an unforgettable weekend. Half of the summer staff stay the extra two days to volunteer their time to guide nature walks, go boating and crawdad fishing, do art projects, host a campfire and sleep in cabins with kids. What are the highlights of the weekend for the kids? Ski boat rides with trained staff and the Saturday night dance!Stanford Sierra Camp has been partnering with different schools for more than twenty years to host the two day and two night program. East Palo Alto Charter School (EPACS) has been coming to Kids Camp for a weekend of outdoor adventure, environmental lessons and fun for approximately ten years. Kids Camp is an incentive program for EPACS students who meet grade, behavior and attendance criteria in the previous school year. Brant Bishop, Camp’s assistant director, has been designing and running Kids Camp for the past four summers, and it’s a highlight of his year. He says Kids Camp is a chance for Camp to give back to a community that is just minutes away from Stanford University and to fulfill Camp’s mission to “provide fun, safe and educational experiences in a unique wilderness environment.” For many EPACS students spending the weekend at Fallen Leaf Lake, Camp provides them with a number of first-time experiences like fun-yaking, hiking, and crawdad fishing. Different from family camp when kids are accompanied by their parents, staff chaperone the kids close to 24 hours a day, and sleep in the cabins with them. This unique opportunity provides staff and students a chance to form real relationships and really get to know the kids in a short amount of time, says Macy Zardenata, a summer staffer who has volunteered at Kids Camp for the past two summers. Ending the summer with Kids Camp is a great way for our staff to give back, act like a kid and cap off twelve weeks at Fallen Leaf Lake!
Summer is undoubtedly my favorite season in Tahoe, but fall comes in as a close second. When kids go back to school and town quiets down, the aspens turn golden and the weather starts to cool. I find fall a great time to hike, bike, pull out my warm clothes, and read a book by the fireplace. It’s nice to do these things to decompress from a summer packed with visitors, crowds, and the heat! There are quite a few fall events in the Tahoe area that are fun for visitors and locals. Plus, the shoulder season is a great time to find deals at hotels, restaurants and local stores. Summer gear is highly discounted by September, and stores are also rolling out winter gear, so you could be the first to purchase the newest and coolest items for the upcoming season! The fall season is also when Lake Tahoe is clearest. Without much water flowing into the lake in the fall months, there is less sediment and other pollutants coming in to the lake. If you’re in the Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe area this fall, here are a few things that are definitely worth checking out! Ironman Lake Tahoe takes place on Lake Tahoe’s north shore, September 21st. The 2.4 mile swim, 110 mile bike ride and marathon run (all at an altitude of 6,200+ feet!) is only for the insanely fit, but it’s a great event to watch! After exiting the water, racers ride along the lake and on to Truckee and past Northstar Ski Resort. The two lap course ends back at the beach and racers take off on a run that ends at Squaw Valley. Viewing will be great all day from anywhere on the bike or run course (Tahoe City, Truckee or on Lake Tahoe), but I’ll be in the Village at Squaw Valley for the finish!
The annual Fall Fish Festival takes place on October 5th this year at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. This family-friendly event isn’t just for kids! It’s an awesome sight for anyone to see the bright pink Kokanee salmon swimming up Taylor Creek. If you’re not in Tahoe on the 5th, the fish are usually around a week before and after the festival. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see some of Tahoe’s bears stopping by the stream for a meal.
Happening at the same time as the Fish Festival is Camp Richardson’s Oktoberfest. This two-day event, October 4th and 5th, is a family-friendly event with food, activities, games and of course, beer! Costumes aren’t necessary, but there is a costume contest!Fall Colors in Hope Valley are stunning when the aspen leaves go from green to golden and light up the landscape. Hope Valley is located just over Luther Pass at the junction of Highway 89 and Highway 88 (Pickett’s Junction). There is lots of hiking in this area, as well as great road biking. The bike from Pickett’s Junction to Blue Lakes is approximately 28 miles roundtrip, and has great views with minimal traffic. Grover Hot Springs in Markleeville is another great place to take in the fall scenery and stay warm on a cool day! Just because summer is over doesn't mean that the fall isn't a wonderful time to visit Tahoe. You might not be swimming in Lake Tahoe or Fallen Leaf come October, but it's still a beautiful place to visit with a whole different set of perks for the season!
During the summer when we host Stanford alumni and their families, Stanford Sierra is packed full of guests. We keep our maximum to 180 during the spring and fall conference seasons, but during the summer, we often have upwards of 250 guests! It can get pretty loud and chaotic here on serene Fallen Leaf Lake. So Bruce Campodonico, our head of maintenance (that title doesn't really give Bruce credit for all he does here), is on a mission to create hidden, peaceful spots where you can get away from the bulk of your fellow event attendees. Here is a rundown of what Bruce has created so far:Bruce and his crew built the Snooper Chalet so our 5 & 6 year-olds in the summer would have a home base. This is also where yoga classes are held. During the conference season, the Snooper Chalet is quiet. You get there by taking a left uphill when you see the cleared area on your way back to the parking lot. Behind the main lodge Bruce and his crew built a stone wall and included a nice seat. It's a nice shady area and there isn't much foot traffic, just a few of our staff members heading to and from the lodge. I think the seat built into the wall looks like a throne... During the summer it's chaos on the lakefront during daytime hours. But in the fall, it's often quiet and a great spot to read or just relax. Bruce's latest creation is a gazebo on the lake. Perfect for a romantic moment or some quiet alone time. The gazebo is between the entrance to Stanford Sierra and the main lodge. Look for the stone steps leading down to it... So if you see Bruce during your visit to Stanford Sierra say "hello" and thank him for all the cool stuff he has built around Camp!
I get regular emails from an online event website, Bizbash , and usually find some useful nuggets of information. A recent post included catering rules by top professional chef Geoffrey Zakarian. The article was my introduction to Geoffrey Zakarian, and now I'm a fan! I think his advice is great (plus he's kind of cute). He has successful restaurants in NYC and is the recent Iron Chef winner, so I think he knows what he is talking about. He also has one cookbook and another available this fall, My Perfect Pantry: 150 Easy Recipes from 50 Essential Ingredients Sounds great to me, I'm going to pre-order that book! Here are a few of his catering rules and how to apply them to an event at Stanford Sierra: Create a story from start to finish - Take advantage that your event is at a Camp in the mountains. Our events are spring or fall, so plan seasonal menus and use appropriate decor. Here are a couple photos from a fall wedding where the bride and her planner did a great job with the decor and Chef Dave created menus to complement the theme of the weekendThe cocktail hour should be no more than ... one hour - Whether your guests spent the day in a meeting or out on the hiking trails, (hopefully at least a little bit of the latter!) I think the fresh mountain air makes people hungrier! So even more reason to keep the cocktail hour to an hour, then get your group up to the dining room. The best place for social hours at Stanford Sierra is in the Old Lodge and on the deck. Dress up a buffet-style table Chef Dave and his staff will take care of this for you. Let us know if you have particular requests, otherwise, we'll set our Stanford Sierra creative geniuses to work! Take care of yourself, exercise and never forget that you need to be the seemingly smartest person in the room at all times I do my best to follow the first two, and for events at Stanford Sierra, I leave the third part to Chef Dave and our dining room manager Jess. Dave and his crew create wonderful meals, then Jess makes sure the serving is seamless. Jess has added many creative details to rooms sets for our recent events. Let us know your requests for your next event at Stanford Sierra and we'll make it happen!
I highly recommend extending your stay in Tahoe after visiting Stanford Sierra Conference Center. In my last post, I suggested a few hikes and restaurants in the South Lake Tahoe area. Hiking and eating are two of my favorite things to do, so I started there, but Tahoe has a lot more to offer! Last summer my family visited and I realized I needed to diversify my typical activity suggestions to include fun things for all ages, abilities and fitness levels. So, here are a few more fun things to do on the South Shore:
ActivitiesTallac Historic Site and Taylor Creek Visitor Center: Located near Fallen Leaf Lake off of Highway 89, these are both great places to explore with kids. You can visit one or the other, or walk along the bike path to get between the two. The Tallac Historic Site offers a self-guided walk through historic buildings and beautiful scenery. Check their event calendar to see if anything interesting is happening while you’re in town! The Taylor Creek Visitor Center is just down the road (less than a mile) and provides information about some of the area wildlife. There is a pretty neat Stream Profile Chamber where you can see the animals and plants in the stream through large windows. During the fall, don’t miss the Kokanee Salmon Festival! The creek is filled with Kokanee salmon swimming upstream to spawn—it’s quite a sight! Lakeview Commons and El Dorado Beach: All summer, Lakeview Commons and El Dorado Beach (Lakeview Avenue and Highway 50, South Lake Tahoe) offer many activities for individuals and families. The beach is a fun safe area for kids to splash around in and swim in Lake Tahoe. A concession stand sells locally made ice cream and other snacks, and there are boat rentals on the beach. One of Tahoe’s most popular activities is paddle boarding, and this is a great place to learn! South Tahoe Standup Paddle offers rentals, lessons and guided tours right on the beach. For your daytime beach visit, make sure you have a swimsuit, towel, sunscreen and sunglasses! In the evenings, Lakeview Commons has free outdoor grills (bring your own charcoal and food to grill) and a great view of the sun setting behind the mountains. During the summer, there are paddleboard races starting at 6:30pm on Wednesday nights, and there is live music and vendors on Thursday nights.
If you’re spending a few extra days in Tahoe, don’t miss one of Tahoe’s most iconic sights: Emerald Bay. Emerald Bay and Fannette Island are two of the most photographed places in Tahoe. Views from the parking lots on either side of the bay are wonderful. If you’re up for it, walk down the steep path to Emerald Bay Beach from the Vikingsholm parking lot and take in the views from lake level.
The Heavenly Gondola is another great place to see amazing views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. Located in the Heavenly Village, the gondola takes you to the top of the mountain. Be sure to stop at the halfway point to enjoy the best views of the basin. At the top, enjoy fun summer activities including tubing, zip lining, hiking, and a ropes course! Heavenly Village is also an entertaining place to spend a few hours. There are many different shopping, dining and entertainment options in the Village which makes it a great area to stroll, window show and enjoy an ice cream cone on a hot day!Looking for more suggestions? Just ask the front office when you're at Camp and they'd be happy to make more suggestions for enjoying a few extra days on Tahoe's South Shore.
Next Thursday, July 31 is the last day we will accept applications for employment during the fall conference season. The season begins Sunday, September 7 and ends on Friday, November 14. Applications are available on our website. We are hiring all purpose staff, so job responsibilities include cleaning cabins, serving meals, setting meeting rooms, staffing the boat dock. etc.Charlie Powers is our conference staff director who hires and supervises the staff. Charlie has an interesting work history at Stanford Sierra. He started in the kitchen in 2005 and worked year-round through the spring of 2008. Charlie then returned to the East Coast and worked in his family's insurance business. Charlie missed the weather, snow and hiking in the Lake Tahoe area, so he returned to the Stanford Sierra kitchen in the spring of 2011. It was a fortuitous move as Charlie met Alissa, his bride-to-be. The next year Charlie was hired to be the conference staff director. During his tenure, Charlie has done an excellent job of hiring friendly, hardworking staff for each conference season. Starting with the application, Charlie is looking for applicants who present themselves well including a complete, accurate and grammatically correct application. If the application meets Charlie's scrutiny, he invites the applicant to a Skype interview. Again, Charlie is looking for applicants who present themselves well including appropriate dress for a job interview, clear and concise answers to interview questions and a friendly, outgoing demeanor. Conference season staff work hard, but enjoy many unique benefits during their two-month stint at Fallen Leaf Lake. Staff members share lakefront cabins on Fallen Leaf Lake, enjoy delicious meals prepared by Chef Dave and his staff and enjoy excellent recreation including paddle boarding and kayaking Fallen Leaf Lake, hiking in Desolation Wilderness plus friendly staff competitions including volleyball and soccer. Our spring and fall conference seasons fits well with other resort season jobs that tend to run summer and winter. If you are hardworking and love the outdoors, submit your application!
When a conference at Stanford Sierra Conference Center ends, I always hear people say “I wish I could spend more time in Tahoe!” While some people may have no choice but to get back to work, school, family or other commitments, I recommend adding an extra two days to your trip and spending some time on Tahoe’s South Shore if you can. Tahoe’s South Shore has an abundance of hikes, restaurants, lodging options, scenic spots and entertainment for adults and families. I love having visitors in town so I can show them my favorite spots. Stay tuned for 'Part Two' of this blog post with suggestions for family activities and scenic spots!
Hiking on Tahoe's South ShoreVan Sickle Bi-State Park: Straddling California and Nevada, Van Sickle Bi-State Park has great hiking right in town. You’ll find the entrance to the park behind the casinos and just beneath the Heavenly Gondola. Almost any hike from Van Sickle gives you a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to views. From the parking lot, walking just 10-15 minutes gives you a view of town and the lake. The trail gets steep on the way to a waterfall, which is about 30 minutes in, but the trail is well-maintained with plenty of places to pull over for a water break. It is just over 3.5 miles to the junction with the Tahoe Rim Trail. Adventurous hikers can continue on this trail. Kahle Meadow Walk: If you’d like to get outside for an easy walk, or if you’ve got kids in tow, walking through the Kahle Meadow to Nevada Beach might be a great spot for you! Park at the corner of Highway 50 and Kahle Drive in Stateline, NV. Walk through a beautiful meadow on a paved trail until you reach the campground or Elks Point Drive. To get to the beach, turn left and loop through Nevada Beach and back to the meadow. The Tahoe Rim Trail (leaving from Kingsbury Grade toward Spooner Summit): Looking for a longer hike? This section of the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) starts at almost 8,000 ft. but doesn’t gain much more elevation in the 14.2-mile stretch between Kingsbury Grade and Spooner Summit. The trail is wooded for the first part, then opens up with amazing lake views. You can venture as far as you'd like down the trail before turning around, or you can park a car at Spooner Summit and drive back to Kingsbury if you're feeling up to hiking the whole section! To get to the TRT, turn left off of Kingsbury Grade on to North Benjamin Drive and continue to Andria Drive through a residential area until you reach a parking lot on your left and the trailhead for the TRT.
Restaurants on Tahoe's South ShoreThere are quite a few restaurants to choose from on the South Shore. My favorite lunch spot is Tahoe Keys CafÃƒƒƒƒÃƒƒ‚ƒÃƒƒƒ‚Ãƒƒ‚ƒÃƒƒƒƒÃƒƒ‚‚Ãƒƒƒ‚Ãƒƒ‚ƒ ÃƒƒƒƒÃƒƒ‚‚Ãƒƒƒ‚Ãƒƒ‚ƒ ÃƒƒƒƒÃƒƒ‚‚Ãƒƒƒ‚Ãƒƒ‚© near the Y intersection. The sweet potato sandwich is awesome! The portions are generous and you can take it to go, or eat it outside at one of their tables. This is also a great breakfast spot with coffee, smoothies, breakfast burritos and sandwiches. Thai One On is a small Thai restaurant on the other side of town off of Kingsbury Grade. The food is tasty, affordable and comes out quickly! They even have outdoor seating if it’s a warm summer night. MacDuff’s is a great spot to meet friends for a drink and pub fare in South Lake Tahoe. Right off of Highway 50 by the bowling alley, MacDuff’s has an extensive beer menu and their truffle macaroni and cheese is amazing. Looking for dinner with a view? Try Riva Grill or the Beacon Bar and Grill. Both have waterfront dining, great drinks and snacks, and full dinner menus. These hikes should keep you busy while in town and the restaurants should leave you feeling satisfied! Check back later for a list of scenic spots and fun family activities!