Paul Steffel was a baby when his parents and older siblings first started coming to our resort.
Back then, it was a family tradition. Like so many other families, Paul’s parents and four siblings loaded up their car and headed out to a Minnesota lake for a week of relaxation – swimming, fishing, barbequing and spending quality family time – together.
They often came with other families and friends. This was a highlight of their year, a time to share and a time to define what family is all about.
As time evolved, Paul and his siblings married. Families grew and more cottages were needed to keep their vacation tradition alive. Now into their fourth generation, the Steffel families have been coming to the resort for the same week, every summer.
Together they played and laughed, jumping off our high-dive swimming platform at mid-night, going for Dairy Queen treats every evening after dinner and playing cards until the wee hours of the morning.
This is a family that knows how to celebrate life. It’s what I believe this business is all about.
Unlike many families who stayed at home last summer because of Covid concerns and necessary precautions, the Steffels chose not to break their long-standing vacation tradition. They came to the resort, staying in their same cottages during their usual week.
Last year was the first year that Paul was unable to join them. In February, Paul died from the complications of renal cancer. He was 51.
I wanted to share this story, not so much to talk about the Steffels or vacation traditions or even the importance of spending time with family. Instead, I want to tell you about the amazing community where I live and the amazing people that work for me.
You see, after the passing of my mother a few months ago, I decided to completely renovate my childhood home – which is located in the center of our resort – and turn it into another cottage rental unit. Needless to say, the house needed a lot of renovation, including all new plumbing, electrical, HVAC and major structural modifications.
As you likely know, labor and building materials are in short supply. My contractors are being pulled in many directions and a complete home remodeling project has been extremely difficult to squeeze into anyone’s schedule.
But somehow these incredibly talented and skilled artisans have been able to pull it all together. Now, in the eleventh hour, I know that many of them have spent countless hours of overtime in the evenings and recent weekends to get this renovation project completed.
As I write this column, these carpenters and plumbers and electricians and painters and cabinet makers and others are working at lightning speed — with the precision of a finely tuned orchestra — to meet our cottage reservation deadline.
They don’t know that Paul Steffel’s wife, and their four children will be checking in to this newly renovated cottage on Saturday. They don’t know the significance of having this cottage unit completed in time for all of the Steffel’s to gather, as they have consecutively for 50 years, to enjoy each other as a family, to laugh and play, and to share vacation memories of being together.
All of our cottages have some kind of Bee name to identify them from each other; the Wasp Nest, Drone, Honey Bee, Bee Suite, Bay Bee and others. My contractors don’t know that the cottage they’re working on will now be called the Bee Together in honor of my parents and the family time my siblings and I spent in this house.
These craftsmen are the people who have built this resort, one cottage at a time. These are the people who make life worth celebrating, one family at a time!
— This is the opinion of Times Writers Group member Paul Bugbee, a Central Minnesota resort owner. His column is published the third Thursday of the month.