Viewing posts categorised under: Location

SSCience Friday: What Lies Beneath…

by Morgan

09 25, 2015 | Posted in History, Location | 0 comments

Fallen LeafOn a calm autumn morning, Fallen Leaf Lake has an almost mirror-like tranquility to it. But as beautiful as it is on the surface, it may be what lies far beneath its gentle ripples that truly sets it apart from other alpine lakes. At over 400 feet deep, the waters of Fallen Leaf have kept a secret for thousands of years: An underwater forest, perfectly preserved. Only in the last decade have researchers begun to explore the frigid depths of Fallen Leaf.  John Kleppe, Professor Emeritus at University of Nevada Reno, is credited with discovery of the forest...and that's not all.  Kleppe found a green jelly-like organism living among the still-standing trees.  Researchers have yet to determine what exactly these things are. A brief report ran on NPR a year or so back. FLL from Angora PeakWhat has attracted the most attention lately, however, is what we can learn from these forests.  According to Graham Kent, Director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at UNR, the underwater forest can teach us a lot about megadroughts that hit California throughout the Holocene. "We’ve obtained potentially the most accurate record thus far on the instances of 200-year-long droughts in the Sierra," Kent said in 2012 UNR media report. Kleppe has also published a paper on his research, entitled Duration and severity of Medieval drought in the Lake Tahoe Basin.  The waters of Fallen Leaf Lake make for some of the best scenery in the Sierras, but it's the history they hide that is truly fascinating.  

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Photography Tips from Brooke!

by SierraMerril

10 02, 2014 | Posted in Location, Preparing for your visit, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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.

During the spring season, Fallen Leaf Lake is surrounded by bright green vegetation.

The Stanford Sierra Camp boat dock from the water. During the spring, the lake is surrounded by bright green vegetation. If you're talented enough, you can catch the reflection of the trees in the water!

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.

Brooke Davis (right) and Jan Schlereth (left) in front of Camp's main lodge.

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.
Virginia doing art

Portraits, especially candid portraits, are one of Brooke's favorite types of photographs to take.


Brooke’s Tips for Taking a Great Photo:

Take a lot of photos. Bad pictures happen, but if you take enough, you’ll be sure to get a good one. Brooke takes approximately 1,200 photos a day. At the end of the week, she has more than 7,000 to choose from to co-create a 700-picture slideshow with her fellow Camp photographer, Chipper Stotz. Make sure you have an extra memory card on hand so you don’t run out of space! Use the things around you to frame a shot. Trees, water and scenery can help create a natural frame for your subject. Change your perspective. Try zooming in on your subject or photographing it from an atypical angle. Up-close and microscopic perspectives can represent an object or subject in a different way.  

Looking up at a tree

Always carry your camera with you! You never know when you might find something photograph worthy. Brooke believes that photography makes you much more observant. Once you’ve started taking photographs, you’ll want to take as many as possible.
Silhouetted Water Skier

Silhouetted water skier on Fallen Leaf Lake at dawn

Trying to take an artsy photo? Try a silhouette or reflection. To take a silhouette photo, make sure the sun is behind your subject. Shooting straight into the sun will darken the subject and can create awesome photos. Reflections can also create artsy photos. Sunglasses, windows and water are all good places to be looking if you’re trying to take a photo that’s more outside of the box!
Sunrise at Camp

Sun rises over Angora Ridge each morning casting a beautiful glow on Fallen Leaf Lake.

Get up early and take sunrise photos. Early morning is Brooke’s favorite time to take pictures. Later in the afternoon, the light can be harsh, and parts of Fallen Leaf Lake are usually in the shadows by 4 or 5pm. Sunrise is also a great time to catch Fallen Leaf Lake when it’s still. The sun is best at Camp in the morning, so this is also a great time for portraits and people shots.

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Fall in Tahoe

by SierraMerril

09 04, 2014 | Posted in Location, Recreation, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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 Taylor Creek Visitor is located near Fallen Leaf Lake in the Tahoe Basin.

The US Forest Service hosts the annual Fall Fish Festival at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, just a short drive from Fallen Leaf Lake.

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!

Camp has a few aspen trees that change colors in the fall. The golden colored aspen trees dot the shoreline of Fallen Leaf Lake each fall.

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!
The Old Lodge at Stanford Sierra Camp and Conference Center in Tahoe has a great fireplace for guests to sit in front of while reading a book.

Fall is a great time to sit by the fire with apple cider and enjoy a book!

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!  

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Going the Extra Mile for Your Guests: The Coordinator Checklist

by SierraMerril

08 21, 2014 | Posted in Event planning, Location, Meeting, Preparing for your visit, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Conference Coordinators should be sure to schedule free time for their participants during their stay on Fallen Leaf Lake.

Allowing your guests free time to explore the Fallen Leaf Lake area can be inspiring, reenergizing, and a welcome break from meetings. Views like this on the Clark Trail are only a 30-minute hike from Camp!

Are you planning a meeting, wedding, retreat or conference at Stanford Sierra Conference Center? Camp’s staff takes care of most everything while you’re here, but there are a few extra things you can do prior to your arrival to make sure your participants have the best experience possible while at Fallen Leaf Lake! As hosts for several conferences a year, we also go through this coordinator checklist to make sure our guests are prepared for a well thought out and planned event.
  • Look at your agenda and make sure you’ve scheduled free time for your guests. Attending a conference at Fallen Leaf Lake, but not having time to paddle on the lake, hike, or relax and read a book just isn’t right! While the main focus of your stay with us may be work, free time can inspire and reenergize your participants.
  • Give your participants a packing list. We’re happy to provide a basic list for you and your guests, but do they need to bring specific items for the conference? Slides for a presentation? A nicer outfit for a formal dinner? Their best 70s garb for Disco Bingo?
  • Provide your guests with clear directions for getting to Camp.  Your first visit to Stanford Sierra Conference Center can be unnerving. We are at the end of a winding and narrow, but beautiful road. Watch our driving video and share it with your guests so they know what to expect on the drive into Camp.
    Tote bags are great conference gifts! As a coordinator, think about what gifts a guest might use while at Camp.

    Creative Camp participants show off their new tote bags!

  • Create a #hashtag for your event. Use your social media hashtag to advertise your event and connect your guests before and after their stay. You’ll also have access to your guests’ great pictures. Be sure to connect with us (@stanfordsierra) and tag us on Instagram and Twitter so we can see how much fun you had!
  • Create gift bags or schwag for your guests. Everyone likes free things. Even better? Free useful things! Think about what your guests may be able to use during their stay. Hats? Sunscreen? Flashlights? We’re happy to hand your gifts out at the front office when your guests check-in, or have them waiting in their rooms.
  • Have a craving for a special menu item or snack? Be sure to let us know if you’re hoping for something special at your social hour, coffee break, or any one of your meals. Our baker, Steve, receives several requests a year from repeat groups who can’t wait to enjoy his seven layer bars!
  • Request selected wine and beer. The Fountain, Camp’s store, is stocked with a variety of beer and wine. But are you looking for something special? Perhaps a few cases of wine from your favorite Stanford affiliated vintner? Let us know and we can ensure your group has all of your favorite beer and wine on hand.

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Extending your stay on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore: Part Two

by SierraMerril

08 07, 2014 | Posted in Lake Tahoe area, Location, Recreation, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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:


Tallac 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 is located on Lake Tahoe and only a short drive from Stanford Sierra Conference Center.

The weekly paddle board race at Lakeview Commons is fun to watch! Be sure not to miss the locally made ice cream at the snack stand!

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.

Scenic Spots

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.

Emerald Bay and Fannette Island are just a short drive from Stanford Sierra Conference Center.

Emerald Bay is one of Tahoe's most photographed spots. Fannette Island sits in the middle of the Bay and is the only island in Lake Tahoe.

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.  

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Camp Essentials

by SierraMerril

07 10, 2014 | Posted in Location, Lodging, Preparing for your visit, Recreation, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When people are planning their trip to Stanford Sierra Camp and Conference Center they frequently ask, “What do I absolutely need to have at Camp?” There are quite a few things you need at Camp, but I’ve narrowed my list down to ten essential items. Here they are to get you started!

  1.  A good book. There are plenty of places to find a quiet space to enjoy your book at Camp. Baby Beach, the boat dock, your cabin’s deck, the Old Lodge or in the Stanford Room are only a few of the wonderful places that you can get some serious reading done. When I’m looking for a good read, I usually consult the New York Times’ Top 20 Best Sellers List. Right now I’m reading “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini, and I’d love to go sit on the boat dock and make a dent in it right now!
  2. A reusable water bottle or Camelbak. Fallen Leaf Lake sits 6,377 feet above sea level. It’s easy to get dehydrated at this elevation and even more so, if you are outside in the sunshine all day. Staying hydrated during your stay is important so you can feel your best and enjoy all that Camp has to offer without getting fatigued or ill. Check out last week’s blog post for tips on staying healthy during your trip to high altitude. You can fill your water bottle  in your room or in the dining room. If you don’t have your own or forget to bring one, Camp’s store, the Fountain, has a variety of water bottles for you to choose from.
    Stanford Sierra Camp's fleet of boats on Fallen Leaf Lake include fun-yaks, sail boats, row boats, canoes and stand up paddle boards.

    Make sure you're wearing sunscreen if you plan on being out on the water.

  3. Sun protection. Aren’t sunburns the worst? Sunblock, hats, and Chapstick will help you from soaking up too much sunshine at Fallen Leaf Lake. Whether it’s a SSC hat from the fountain, or just a regular old ball cap, make sure you have one if you’re headed into Desolation Wilderness for a hike or out on the water. We sell a few different types of sunblock in the Fountain, including Badger Balm and Surface Sun Systems.
  4. A warm jacket. Although weather from May-October in the Tahoe area is usually very pleasant during the day, it can still be chilly at night. A simple fleece jacket or warm sweatshirt will most likely get the job done. Weather can also take a turn for the worse at anytime in the mountains. A rain jacket is always a good idea. Even if you don’t end up needing it, it’s never a bad idea to have one just in case!
    A bonfire at the beach can get chilly, even in the summer! Make sure you have a jacket for the walk back to your cabin.

    A bonfire at the beach can get chilly, even in the summer! Make sure you have a jacket for the walk back to your cabin.

  5. Sturdy footwear. While Camp’s paths and walkways are walkable in almost any footwear (except maybe for high heels!), taking a hike anywhere outside of Camp requires sturdy footwear. Trails outside of Camp, especially in Desolation Wilderness have rocky terrain that can easily lead to a sprained ankle if you’re not wearing proper shoes.
  6. A backpack or beach bag. Packing a bag in the morning when you leave your cabin ensures that you have the basics with you all day. Pack your bag with a water bottle, sunblock, jacket, book, room key, and anything you might need for meetings. Camp isn’t big enough that it’s too much of a hassle to return to your room during the day, but it’s always nice to have some of these essential items with you.
  7. A reusable mug. Bringing your own coffee cup or traveler’s mug is a great way  to reduce paper waste. Our Fountain staff would be happy to make your coffee drink in your own mug. This is also a great way for you to take coffee to go!
  8. A camera or phone that takes good pictures. After a few days at Camp, you’ll wish you could stay longer. Being able to take a picture of the lake at its calmest in the morning, or the sun setting behind the peaks in Desolation Wilderness is a great way for you to remember Camp. Make sure you carry your camera with you—you never know when you might want to snap a quick picture!
    Sunsets in the Sierra Nevada are breathtaking!

    Don't forget your camera!  Pictures are a great way to remember Fallen Leaf Lake until you can make it back again.

  9. Cash. The closest ATM is in South Lake Tahoe. During the conference season, wine, beer and sodas are cash only during meal times. During the summer, and for a few confereneces, we have an outside masseuse come out to Camp. Massages are also cash or check only. Don’t get caught without any! Cash is also the best way for you to leave a tip for staff at the end of you stay
  10. A sense of adventure! Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time at Fallen Leaf Lake, there’s always something new to try. This summer, Camp purchased new paddle boards to add to its fleet, and in the past two years, Camp’s geocache course has grown. Our  22 acre property (along with 100 square miles of protected wilderness in our backyard) is a great place to explore and try something new. Make sure you leave Camp without regrets. No one wants to feel like they missed out on getting on the water or hiking at Camp. Nervous about trying something new? Ask a staff member. Chances are they’ve probably done it before and they have some tips for you.
    At Stanford Sierra Conference Center you can take out a sailboat.

    Sailboats on Fallen Leaf

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Tips to Prepare for a High Altitude Trip

by stanfordsierra

07 03, 2014 | Posted in Event planning, Location, Preparing for your visit | 0 comments

Stanford Sierra is located at an elevation of 6,377, so some guests coming to attend a conference or retreat here in the Lake Tahoe area from sea level do experience negative side effects from the higher altitude. There is less oxygen, about 16% at 6,000 feet compared to 21% oxygen at sea level, and how your body responds to this stress determines whether you notice the elevation change or not. The Trail Girl posted a thorough explanation of the effects of decreased oxygen. There are a few things you can do to minimize experiencing negative effects from the altitude:

  • Acclimate slowly: If you are driving to Stanford Sierra from the Bay area or from the Reno Tahoe Airport, make a stop at a lower elevation. From the Bay area, stop in Placerville, 1,800' elevation. The downtown has cute shops and restaurants for a leg stretch before heading up and over the mountains. From the Reno Tahoe Airport, you can stop at the Summit Mall in Reno for shopping or a bite to eat. In Carson City, Schat's Bakery, is a local favorite for sandwiches, sweet treats or amazing, fresh-baked bread.
  • Drink lots of water!: Drink a minimum of an 8 oz. glass of water per hour. Water is always available in the Stanford room and dining room, and we set water at all meetings and events.
  • Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills
  • Rest and relax when you arrive at Stanford Sierra - There are plenty of great spots in and around the main lodge to relax with a good book. indoors, both the Stanford Room and Old Lodge have fireplaces, outdoors there are decks off the lakeside of the lodge or all cabins have decks with lake views.
  • Maintain your iron level Red meat and spinach!
  • Increase carbohydrate intake Consume pasta, rice, potatoes and bread to comprise 70% of your diet and reduce your fat intake.
  • Medication If you have experienced negative effects on a previous trip to 6000 ft elevation, you can ask your doctor to prescribe Diamox. Read more about Diamox on the Trail Girl's blog.
Whether you are visiting Stanford Sierra for a camp wedding, business retreat or conference, you want to feel your best. If you have tips to share that have helped you acclimate to a high altitude stay, let us know!

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Working, Living and Playing In Tahoe

by SierraMerril

06 26, 2014 | Posted in Lake Tahoe area, Location, Meeting, Recreation, Staff members, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Stanford Sierra Camp and Conference Center sits at the base of Cathedral Peak on Fallen Leaf Lake.

Camp sits at the base of Cathedral Peak on Fallen Leaf Lake.

When I tell people that I live and work in Tahoe, the most common follow-up question is: Do you work at a ski resort? While it was a ski job that originally brought me to South Lake Tahoe in the winter of 2010-2011, I have since found myself working at the end of a five-mile road with no outlet and no cell phone service, but gorgeous views of mountains, ridges and Fallen Leaf Lake. Stanford Sierra Camp and Conference Center isn’t a rustic set of tent cabins, nor is it a four-star resort, but it’s somewhere in between. It’s a place where families enjoy mountain activities, city residents relax in the woods, and companies host conferences and retreats outside of traditional office or conference spaces. As the reservations assistant manager, I work year-round in a two-person department that corresponds with guests and takes reservations for Stanford University alumni programs and summer family camp. I also take reservations and assign housing for several retreats and conferences that are not affiliated with Stanford University, but have been coming to Camp for many years. After several seasons of assigning housing for conferences, I’ve learned quite a few quirks and perks of the 64 lodging units at Camp. People always ask, “What is the best cabin or area of Camp?” You would think that would be an easy question, but it all depends on what you’re looking for! Lake views, peace and quiet, sunlight and proximity to the lodge are different for all of our units. Individuals and families have different priorities and needs, which makes this question so hard to answer!  
While cabins in the "Hills" area of Camp can be a bit of a walk, they get some of the most sunlight and offer a different view of Camp and the lake.

Cabins in the Hills area of Camp get some of the most sunlight and offer a different view of Camp and the Lake.

Throughout the year, I stay busy preparing guests for their stay at Camp, whether it’s for two nights or seven. I simultaneously help prepare Camp and our staff for the abundance of guests that descend upon Fallen Leaf Lake when the weather warms, the snow melts off the mountains, and the lake is calm, beautiful and a bearable temperature. I am part of a management team that works hard to create memorable experiences for families, couples getting married and conference attendees. While most of my work is at my desk; sending emails, collecting money, ordering cakes, and working on housing assignments, I also have the pleasure of enjoying Fallen Leaf Lake and Camp's mountain surroundings. I get to have weekly barbecue lunches outside during the summer and greet guests when they arrive at Camp. After having worked here for the better part of three years, I’ve paddled the lake, looked down on Camp from Angora Peak and Cathedral Trail, explored Desolation Wilderness, watched the sun rise from over Lake Tahoe and set on Gardner Mountain.
Mt. Tallac is one of the Tahoe Basin's tallest mountains and can be a day hike from the Tahoe conference center.

Mt. Tallac is a long hike from Camp, but the views of the Tahoe Basin and Desolation Wilderness are unbeatable from the top!

    My life as reservations assistant manager is filled with paperwork, emails, small details and customer service, and it is enhanced daily by a constant flow of wonderful guests, a workplace filled with active coworkers and Desolation Wilderness in my backyard.

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One week to the start of spring conference season!

by stanfordsierra

04 11, 2014 | Posted in Location, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Next Friday, April 18, we open for the 2014 spring conference season and welcome a group of Stanford faculty and staff and their families. The signs of spring are all around as we get the main lodge and cabins ready for our first guests of the year!

It's spring - the trees are budding!

It's spring - the trees are budding!

Late morning and the lake is still calm

Late morning and the lake is still calm

With no guests during the winter, it's project season at Stanford Sierra and the crew made some great updates this year. They removed the bar in the Old Lodge and added this new sitting area. We will add final decorative touches in the next week.
new sitting area in the Old Lodge

new sitting area in the Old Lodge

New carpet in the Stanford room and furniture is on the way!

New carpet in the Stanford room and furniture is on the way!

There was a crew of about 15 working through the winter. A few more staff members arrived this week, and the remainder of our spring staff arrive tomorrow!
Jan is part of the hard-working winter crew

Jan is part of the hard-working winter crew

I'll post more pictures next week as we get new furniture in place and clean things up. Bruce and his woodworking crew made some beautiful new tables for our board room, the Tallac room and the dining room. Stay tuned!        

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Dave Bunnett Keeps the Camp Magic Going

by The Aviator

02 04, 2014 | Posted in History, Location, Recreation | 0 comments

Every fall Stanford Sierra Conference Center hosts a group of fifth and sixth graders from East Palo Alto. Briefly liberated from their urban environment and enthused by mountain air, water games and sugar--the children run wild. On one of my first days at camp I stood in the lobby watching a competitive game of tag. One boy running helter skelter, nearly collided with the Camp Director, Dave Bunnett. Tilting his head to look at Dave, the boy's jaw went slack. Dave looked down, smiling. After a moment of appraisal the boy broke the silence, “You're a giant!”

Dave 'the giant' giving a crawdad lesson to a group of preschoolers

Dave 'the giant' giving a crawdad lesson to a group of preschoolers

And he was right. Dave is 6'5''. Bemused at the child's assessment, Dave watched the boy walk away. That was one of my first encounters with Dave and it encouraged me to subscribe to the general consensus here at camp: Dave is a nice guy. Dave has been the Camp Director here at SSC since 1995, but he began at the bottom. He was a Stanford University student and summer staffer here in the early 80s. Feeling at home on the lake, Dave stayed on and began working his way up through the ranks. “I can still remember the day I drove onto Fallen Leaf Road for the first time,” Dave told me as we sat and talked in the old lodge. “I was coming to work and I drove in on the road and I looked around and I just said, 'Wow, this is pretty incredible! I have to figure out how to stay around here.'”
The beauty of Fallen Leaf made Dave want to stay

The beauty of Fallen Leaf made Dave want to stay

After Dave worked as a summer staffer responsible for supervising children, cleaning dishes and making beds, Dave was promoted to DOPO, department of plant operations, where he handled maintenance issues.
Dave likes to stay 'hands on' with maintenance projects

Dave likes to stay 'hands on' with maintenance projects

Then Dave traded his work belt for a telephone when he assumed the position of assistant camp director. Seven years later he was made the camp director, a position which he has held for nearly two decades.
Dave working at his desk overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake

Dave working at his desk overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake

The annual visits for the East Palo Alto youngsters is one of the accomplishments of his tenure for which Dave is most proud. It was not his idea. During a midseason interview with a summer staffer, Dave was informed that while happy, the student felt unfulfilled. His reasoning was that while he was having an excellent summer, it was a selfish pursuit--he hadn't helped anyone but himself. This sparked a long, involved conversation. The result of that conversation was the pro bono, annual visit of underprivileged children which continues to this day. It is fairly evident to most people who encounter Dave that he has an adventurous spirit. That spirit is imbued within Stanford Sierra Camp. After Dave graduated from Stanford, he joined the Peace Corp and worked in the Solomon Islands. He said of his experience, “At the time it was very, very third world with very little medical care. People were happy and well-fed because they had a good supply of natural resources, but it was very, very primitive where I was.” Some of Dave's best adventures were sailing.“At one point I sailed a boat from Spain to Venezuela,” he told me, his signature smile beaming across his face. “I'd done some Hawaii trips before. But Spain to Venezuela, we had some good times. We got caught in a big storm at one point, and that was sort of fun.” That's they type of guy Dave is, someone for whom storms are an adventure - not something to keep you from going out again. Dave keeps the sailing program going strong at Camp with a good fleet of boats and staff training every season. See Dave in our Stanford Sierra sailing overview video.
Dave training summer staff at the boat dock

Dave training summer staff at the boat dock

Since assuming his position as Camp Director, Dave no longer backpacks across Europe, but he still partakes in the adventures that can be found around camp. He runs the Angora Loop nearly every day during the summer and often sails Lake Tahoe. Dave shares his camp experience now with his wife, Tamara, (they are about to celebrate their 19th wedding anniversary!) and his daughters Danica and Tatum. During the second to last week of the fall conference season, we had our first heavy snow. The clouds hung low, hiding the mountain peaks. Snow drifted serenely to the ground, as if each flake had all the time in the world to fall. Standing in front of the Main Lodge and looking out at the lake really felt mystical. The clouds and snow buffered all other sound, leaving camp a tranquil refuge seemingly all on its own. Dave believes that it is his responsibility to make this feeling of magic last, allow it to permeate everyone's experience here—from guests to staff.
A magical day with a fresh layer of snow at Fallen Leaf

A magical day with a fresh layer of snow at Fallen Leaf

When I asked Dave about whether that initial feeling of magic has lasted his thirty-years at Stanford Sierra Conference Center, he said, “It's different in my position now. I have to worry and take care of stuff to keep it magical for you guys.”
Dave out on the waterfront

Dave out on the waterfront


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