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Taking the Kids

Resorts With Many Happy Returns

September 20, 1998|EILEEN OGINTZ

The next time the teens balk at going on a family vacation, tell them they might find the love of their life.

Ginny Burley did. The Vermont social worker was just 12 the summer she met her husband-to-be, Dave, at Loch Lyme Lodge, a small, rustic New Hampshire lake resort where their families vacationed every summer. Ginny was from suburban New Jersey; Dave from Pennsylvania. The two became best friends years before they were a couple.

Now, more than 15 years and three kids later, the Burleys return each summer to Loch Lyme's cabins with their children.

"We watch the kids do the things we did. There are the same canoes, the same rowboats and the same pingpong paddles," said Burley.

"When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, our two weeks in New Hampshire were always the best weeks of the year," she said. "It's just as special now. I wish everyone had a place like this in their life."

Many families do--on pristine lakes in New York, Maine and Minnesota, Montana, Colorado and California, among other places. Grandparents came as children for a month or more to escape the city heat. Now their children and grandchildren continue the tradition, squeezing a week into their busy lives, leaving faxes, pagers and e-mail behind to stay in a simple cabin with no phone, television or air-conditioning.

"What makes it special is I shared this lake with my dad, and now I can share it with my son. I want him to like this place as much as I do," said Tim Callaghan, a Minneapolis research scientist who returns each summer to the same Minnesota lake resort where he vacationed as a child.

Sure, it sounds like a cliche, but it's a concept that still works.

"I can't tell you all the weddings we've had--and that includes mine and my daughter's," said Arthur Howe, whose family has run Rockywold-Deephaven Camps in New Hampshire since the turn of the century. (Call [603] 968-3313 or visit on the Internet.)

Parents and kids swim and sail, water-ski, fish and play tennis, ride horses at some places and laze on the beach at others. At night, they play poker or Barbies. Sometimes, families look out on the lake and just talk.

"One mother told me her son talks more to her the week here than the rest of the year!" said Judy Barker, whose parents took over the 24-cabin Loch Lyme Resort in the 1940s. (Call Loch Lyme at [800] 423-2141.) "The friendships that are made here have a lot to do with people coming back. The kids I knew growing up now are bringing their kids and now those kids are friends," said Missy Hill, who met her husband-to-be as a child vacationing at Hill's Resort in Idaho and grew up to help his family run the place. (Call Hill's Resort at [208] 443-2551.)

The predictability also draws people back, resort owners and guests agree. In a constantly changing, high-tech world, it's reassuring to know that one place remains much the same. Except for one thing: There are a few more conveniences these days.

Wisconsin's Sunset Resort, for one, didn't even have electricity or indoor plumbing until the late 1930s, said Dee Brown, whose family started the place in 1902 by adding a couple of rooms onto their house at the tip of Door County. (Call [920] 847-2531.)

All of this warm fuzziness doesn't necessarily come cheap. Rockywold-Deephaven, for example, charges about $3,000 a week for a family of four, with meals and activities; you'll pay nearly double that at Flathead Lake Lodge, just south of Glacier National Park in Montana. (Call [406] 837-4391.)

But others are bona-fide bargains--less than $1,000 (plus meals) for a week at Loch Lyme Lodge in New Hampshire, Sunset Resort in Wisconsin, Camp Richardson Resort on Lake Tahoe in California, (800) 544-1801, or Hill's Resort on Priest Lake in Idaho.

Taking the Kids appears the first and third week of every month.

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