Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Most Amazing Place in the World

First of all, welcome to my new blog! It has all my old posts still. I just transferred from Wordpress to Google Blogger because it seems more usable AND now anyone can comment (before you would've needed a Wordpress account to comment)! So comment away friends.

I have kind of taken a hiatus from running since the weekend. I was doing well, but needed a mental break and it's been so hot that I decided to take the past couple days off to re-group and then get back into training and hope it won't happen again until mid-October. So I want to tell you about the most amazing place in the world.

I have 2 favorite places in the whole world. The University of Dayton and Pennellwood. Our family would be at Pennellwood this week if it was still open. Maybe we wouldn't since most of us cousins don't have free summers anymore. But the 2nd/3rd week of July will always be Pennellwood week in our hearts.

Pennellwood Resort is a family vacation spot in Berrien Springs, Michigan, just about 2 hours from Chicago. I don't even know where to start talking about its amazing-ness. Each family stays in a very small, un-air conditioned wood cabin with bunk beds. The whole Smith family went every year from the early 90s through the early 2000s. Here's what a typical day was like for me during the one week of heaven each summer.

7:50am - wake up to the sound of the first breakfast bell
8:00am - wake up Katie and Erin and go to breakfast in the lodge

9:00am - play shuffleboard and ping pong
10:00am - go to the pool

11:50am - get in line for lunch
12:00pm - lunch = amazing salad bar with gold fish and pudding; also the only meal chocolate milk was offered
1:00pm - tubing or kayaking on the lake

3:00pm - pool
5:00pm - happy hour in the lawn outside the cabins; adults drink, kids snack and play frisbee, running bases, corn hole, etc.
6:00pm - dinner- Pennellwood made their own bread and it is the most amazing bread ever
7:00pm - evening family activity or show such as family olympics, frisbee golf, skit show, scavenger hunt, etc.

9:00pm - teen and adult activities = kareokee, square dancing, etc.

10:30pm - play cards or board games or tell stories until bedtime

There were also organized activities during the morning and afternoon, such as crafts and tournaments. Needless to say, we dominated the tournaments.

See, I got a running pic in there. Danny in the lead, followed by Kyle and Katie. Every year we took a lot of group pictures and they are always great to go back and look at. 

What's wrong Kyle? You're in the happiest place on earth. Also noteworthy of course is Julianne's hat and vest, Joe's fratty outfit, and the fact that clearly it was organized for Brian, Patrick, and Kyle to all be wearing a White Sox shirt.

The best part about Pennellwood is the freedom we had there. Every day, we could choose what to do and always had someone to do it with. The worst part would be the overall feeling of my body constantly covered in sunscreen, sweat, pool and lake water, sunburn, mosquito bites, and bug spray. But we were kids, it didn't matter because we were having fun.

Another great part was the food. I didn't eat much variety growing up but at Pennellwood, I could get my Cheerios (sans milk) at breakfast, a salad and chocolate milk at lunch, and bread and veggies at dinner. (I've expanded my eating horizons since then). But I guess what I really mean when I think about food at Pennellwood is the candy and snacks. We would load up on bags of chips, pretzels, and anything non-perishable to keep in the cabins for the week. Twizzlers and ring pops were the big faves.

There's so many more million things and memories I could write about. I would probably give up anything to just go back to Pennellwood for a week with my entire family. The memories and bonding that it brought will always be unforgettable and it really just plain sucks to know that I will never be able to bring my own kids there some day, as my cousins and I always talked about. And now every year, especially around this time we all reminisce when we are together.

What is your favorite vacation spot?  Or any favorite spot? 


  1. So much to say about this post. First of all, I assume all of those pictures were taken from my "take it back now, ya'll" album. Love it. Second of all, I wish I could write a book about Pennellwood. Seriously. Those were my favorite weeks of life growing up. You forgot to mention a key fact about Pennellwood, and that is that it is the reason you and I are published authors. I also wish you could embed a video clip from "Pennellwood 2006," one of the finest films ever to be created.

    1. That is in fact where they were taken from. There were a lot of key facts I didn't include because there's just so many! Want to watch the Pennellwood 2006 movie this week?

  2. What great memories! Joey was quite the runner then, I remember we'd say 'there goes Forrest!'

  3. I love this post Colleen! Keep up the good writing! :)

  4. Was just reminiscing about Pennellwood and happened to come across your post! Reading it brought back a lot of memories from what I was a kid and went to Pennellwood with my family, as well as a few others we would always go with. We always went the first week in June and I have fond memories of ringing the bell for lunch and dinner, swimming in the pool constantly, taking paddle boats out onto lake chapin, and playing flashlight tag and running bases at night. I wish it was still around too so I could go back!