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Stay Connected with Family Reunions

Updated on September 7, 2014

Ozarks in Missouri

Eagles Nest Resort
Eagles Nest Resort
House at Clear Lake, Iowa
House at Clear Lake, Iowa
Pier at Clear Lake before it broke
Pier at Clear Lake before it broke

Summer Family Fun

Families have a tendency to grow up and scatter throughout the country, and sometimes even the world. When our family realized this could happen to us, the decision was made to reconnect every few years. Our family started out with seven children, five boys first and then two girls, living on a farm in Iowa. When our oldest was a senior in high school, we moved into a small city and athletics became a big part of our family life. Therefore, the only available time for vacations was the last week of July or first two weeks of August. Our family includes individuals who enjoy just relaxing and reading, and others who enjoy more lively entertainment which made it necessary to search and find something for all.

Over twenty years ago, our family had their first reunion in a church camp at Clear Lake, Iowa. At that time there were sixteen of us and we could all be housed in one large home as several of the grandchildren were just toddlers or babies. This first stay was only for a long weekend and involved swimming, fishing, playing cards and games, and our favorite, the bean bag game. Everyone helped prepare meals and take care of the young ones. Two of our extended families lived in California at this time and could not be present. The others lived close enough they could drive. Usually something funny happened on our vacations, and, at Clear Lake, the pier that is shown in the picture broke down while several members of our family were standing on it; but nobody was hurt! Our daughter, who was eight months pregnant, was standing on the pier at the time but not on the end where it broke.

Our next family reunion was two years later. Our family had grown in the meantime and more of them were able to make this trip as plans started a year in advance. An uncle of my co-worker owned a fishing resort in Northern Minnesota called Cut Foot Sioux and we rented three cabins for this outing. This resort was just what we expected--nothing fancy. Since walleye fishing is a feature of this resort, everyone enjoyed the fish fries that the owners of the resort held each Friday evening using the fish caught by their guests. But there was also swimming and rides in speed boats. As usual, our bean bag tournament games were the favorite of all. Several in our group enjoyed golf and took advantage of a nearby course. For our five small grandchildren this was a perfect spot to play and enjoy themselves without the adults worrying. Just good old relaxation. This was the perfect spot for our young family.

©joaniebaby - 3-21-12

Cutfoot Sioux Inn

Granddaughters under sign
Granddaughters under sign

Estes Park, CO

Deer by our cabins
Deer by our cabins
Children playing in the stream
Children playing in the stream

After our Minnesota vacation, the family decided to plan a reunion every three years, with one family in charge of the planning. The next one took place at Estes Park, Colorado. This time we rented cabins near a small stream at the foothills of the mountains just outside of Estes Park and, again, it was perfect for our purposes. The young children loved to play in the stream and there was a large area where the whole group could have a ball game and play our bean bag tournament. Some of the group went for a hike in the mountains, some went horseback riding, and some rode the bumper boats. One group went on a car ride up into the mountains and saw some beautiful views. There was also a cable car ride up the mountains where you could take in more of the views. The owners of the cabins had hummingbird feeders hanging all over and we loved to watch them feed. Also, deer walked right up to our cabins daily as you can see in the picture. Over the years, when reminiscing about our vacations, the Estes Park gathering earns rave reviews.

Family Reunion Wall Hanging

Reminder of Lake Okoboji, Iowa reunion
Reminder of Lake Okoboji, Iowa reunion

Lake Okoboji, Iowa was chosen as the spot for our next three-year reunion. There we rented condos right on the lake at a resort where our family had stayed before they all grew up, married and moved away. This stay involved mostly swimming, boat rides, paddle boats, canoes, ball games, card games, going to the nearby amusement park, and our usual bean bag tournament. This year we decided that one family or cabin would be in charge of the evening meal and we would all eat together. For the other meals the members of each cabin were on their own. Since almost everyone, but one grandson, was able to attend this reunion, I planned to have our family picture taken professionally and give them for Christmas presents. My suggestion was that each family wear the same color shirt to distinguish one from the other. Some of the individual families used this opportunity to have their family pictures taken and the results met with the approval of all. Before I went on this vacation, I had cut out squares of material for all to sign so that I could make a "memory quilt." It can be viewed in the picture displayed here. Okoboji is probably second on the favorites list of vacation destinations.

Lake Tahoe T-shirt

Made t-shirt for all family members attending
Made t-shirt for all family members attending

For the next reunion, the family decided to move it up a year as it was our 50th wedding anniversary. One of the families in California was in charge of planning this year, and they chose Lake Tahoe, California. Here we were able to rent three private homes right on an inlet off the lake. There was access to the water, but still privacy. Some of the older members played golf and went to the casino. All of the families took a ride on a boat around Lake Tahoe and had our picture taken on the pier. My special project for this reunion was to make t-shirts for everybody attending, which added up to twenty-seven. That was quite a project but well worth it when we all wore them on our boat ride and in our picture. My husband had arranged to have a family quilt made for me as an anniversary present and surprised me with that when we celebrated. The children and grandchildren made a huge anniversary card for us with all their signatures and sentiments. And, of course, our family bean bag tournament took place. About half of the families were able to drive to Tahoe and the other half flew into Reno, Nevada.

Branson Calendar

Calendar made for my mother
Calendar made for my mother

Three years later our family was off to Branson, Missouri. Condos were rented on the northwest corner of Branson and there were swimming pools available at this resort. Naturally, a stay in Branson means going to see some of the many shows available there. Some of the families went on a boat ride on the lake while others relaxed in the pool and air-conditioned condos as it was very hot. Card games, board games, and our family bean bag tournament took up much of the time. Several couples met in the morning for Bloody Mary’s around one of the pools. The grownups decided that they were going to take one night for themselves to go out and let the older grandchildren take care of the younger ones. By now there were great grandchildren in the group who needed to be watched.

Lots of pictures are always taken during these reunions and this particular year I made a calendar for my mother incorporating the best photos taken. She hung it with pride in her apartment and showed it to everyone who visited her. Just another way to "connect" with the family.

One of our families owns a cabin on Lake Delton, in the Wisconsin Dells, and they made arrangements for the next reunion to be there. Three other cabins were rented nearby for the rest of the families. All of the cabins were on a small inlet off the main lake making it quiet and private where our lively family would not disturb others. The Dells has a huge amusement park, water park, and lots of souvenir shops. Since the grandchildren were teenagers now, the amusement park was a big attraction. The teenagers had a cabin of their own this time, and they played lots of cards in the evening and enjoyed "connecting" and getting to know each other once again. But the bean bag tournament was still one of the favorite entertainments. Jet skis, kayaking, and a ride on the lake took up more of the time. Again the adults chose one evening to go out, leaving the teenagers to take care of the toddlers.

Land Between the Lakes

Resort in Kentucky
Resort in Kentucky

When it was time for our next "connection," it was planned for the "Land Between the Lakes" in southwestern Kentucky. That name intrigued me. A private home and several cabins were rented, with the cabins being right on the lake. Since it was very hot again, there was lots of swimming, jet skiing, and boat rides. But there were still the usual card games and bean bag tournament. The family who planned this trip had devised several trivia games around information about the family members and family baby pictures. These games made us realize we did not know as much as we should about our families--thus, another reason for these reunions!

Eagles Nest Resort in the Ozarks

Home in the Ozarks
Home in the Ozarks
Gathering room
Gathering room

Our most recent family reunion was an “adults only” gathering which took place in the Ozarks in Missouri. We were able to rent a lovely home right on the lake that housed all of us, and could have held more. There were two full floors, with two kitchens, two living rooms, four bathrooms, a huge gathering room and a game room. Once again it was terribly hot, so we stayed inside where it was air-conditioned and played games. The bean bags did not get used this time as it was just too hot. We have family living near this resort and we went to their home one evening to eat, play cards and go on a boat ride around the lake. This vacation seemed very different without the grandchildren and great grandchildren and their vitality.

These family reunions help the grandchildren and great grandchildren who live further away get to know their relatives. All of our grandchildren, except two, have graduated from college now, and they have jobs in various cities around the country. Two of our grandchildren live and work in California, one in Portland, Oregon, one in Minneapolis, Minnesota, one in Des Moines, Iowa, one in Iowa City, Iowa, and two in our local community. One grandchild goes to college at Loyola University in Chicago and one at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As our extended family keeps spreading out, it is more important than ever to keep up this tradition of gathering and getting to know one another. The cameras come out and pictures of each family are taken by the resort sign, if possible, for the albums to assemble of one more great vacation. My husband and I probably will not be able to attend many more of these "connecting" vacations but it is our hope that the family will continue the tradition after we are gone. After reading this Hub, my wish is that you find the next great destination for your family.


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    • moonlake profile image


      6 years ago from America

      Looks like you have had some lovely family reunions. It's so nice to be able to get families together. Some of the most important people in our family are getting older and some sick it's not as easy anymore to have them come. So many now with Alzheimer even some of the younger ones. Enjoyed your hub.

    • joaniebaby profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks Millionaire Tips. Our family vacations were looked to with great anticipation from one time to the next.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      I think it is great that you have this family reunion tradition. Our family has spread out as well, and we are trying to set up a reunion of sorts, but it is hard for everyone to find the time to get together.


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