May 6th, 2013
Our third Alumni Creative Camp wrapped up last Sunday. Over the three days of the program, presenters and attendees relaxed, learned, laughed and created together. I participated in many of the weekend activities and towards the end of the program I sat down with a few guests to get their impressions.
A wide mix of alumni and alumni affiliates attended this year’s creative camp. Teresa Torres, ’99 and Adam Wooley, ’01 received the Camp emails for the past three years and finally found the time to attend this year. Teresa visits Tahoe often, but this was her first time at Fallen Leaf Lake and she was nicely surprised by Camp’s intimate setting and she really enjoyed walking around the area. Teresa and Adam are both photographers and got the most out of sitting down for a one-on-one meeting with Joel Simon after dinner one evening.
Teresa and Adam enjoying the sun on the dining room deck
Kendra Arimoto, ’05 and Alexis Boozer, ’04 received the program email and both were intrigued. As an artist working in the tech industry Kendra was interested in the d.school component while the young alum pricing caught Alexis’ eye and she realized she was in that group, was working and could afford the program. During the weekend, Kendra noticed how good she felt spending time outdoors in the beautiful, natural setting at Fallen Leaf Lake and realized she needs to take the time to exercise and get outside on a regular basis. With the open atmosphere among attendees, Alexis made some great connections and listening to others helped her come to terms with her struggle between her artistic side trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood and the Stanford side of her brain telling her to head in another direction.
Alexis and Kendra with their Stanford Camp tote bags
Sisters, Wendy Richards, ’78, MBA ’82, and Leslie Meagley, brought their mother Britta Franz, ’50 to the Creative Camp as a surprise 85th birthday present. Living in different states, the three have a hard time getting together. Wendy and Leslie knew their mother was intrigued with the d.school after Britta toured the school in January, so when Wendy received the Creative Camp program she knew it was the perfect mix of what her mother would enjoy.
Wendy, Britta and Leslie
Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (better known as the d.school) played a big part in the weekend events. Saturday evening the group took on a fun team-building activity, the marshmallow challenge. You should try the marshmallow challenge with your group and keep in mind kindergarten students outperform business school graduates on this activity!
Working on the marshmallow challenge
Photographer Joel Simon, BA ’74, BS ’75, MS ’77 taught a couple of photo workshops. I sat in on the first and came away with a few valuable snippets including one I captured in this photo.
See the "S" curve in the path?
The fourth annual Alumni Creative Camp is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 24 – Sunday, April 27, 2014. Stay tuned for details!
April 16th, 2013
Our first groups of the spring conference season arrive Friday, so we are sharing our packing tips to help you prepare to attend a Lake Tahoe retreat this spring. Before packing for any trip, check the weather in the destination city. I like the National Weather service forecast. This weekend we’ll have daytime temps in the low 60s and nighttime lows in the 30s – A pretty big range which is typical in the mountains. Wearing layers is a convenient way to stay comfortable as temperatures rise through the day then drop again in the evening.
For the dress code, you probably have a good idea of your company/ organization’s dress code, and you can check the event agenda for specifics. Most groups that meet here at Stanford Sierra Conference Center dress casual for their meals and meeting, I think I’ve seen attendees from just about every group wearing jeans. Yeah for casual meetings!
Groups meeting here choose a casual dress code
If you can access your event’s agenda in advance, check for free time. We encourage all groups to schedule free time to get outside in our beautiful setting on Fallen Leaf Lake. The best activities here are boating and hiking.
Plan to get out on the water during your visit
Our boat dock is open when there aren’t scheduled meetings. Both groups visiting this weekend have free time on Saturday afternoon. Just head down to the boat dock and a friendly staff member will get you a life jacket then set you up in the watercraft of your choice. We have kayaks, peddle boats, stand up paddle boards and sailboats. There can be a cool breeze on the water, so a light, water-resistant out layer would work well for this weekend’s weather.
There are excellent hiking options from Stanford Sierra
Plan to get out for at least a short walk during your visit. The Lower Falls are just a few minutes from Stanford Sierra on paved roads.
The Lower Falls
If you would like a longer hike, you might want to bring waterproof footwear. Some higher trails, including around Lily Lake on your way to the Upper Falls, have standing water from melting snow. The mid Tallac Trail and could be a good option for this weekend. Check in at the office for a hiking map and directions.
To complete your packing bring any prescription medicine and toiletries you’ll need during your stay. We stock our lodge rooms and cabins with soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. Our onsite store, the Fountain, sells a variety of items in case you forget something. For a full packing list, take a look at the packing guide on our website.
Enjoy your trip!
April 3rd, 2013
The Stanford connection with Fallen Leaf Lake started at the end of the 1800s. William Wrightman Price graduated in Stanford University’s second class, then went on to become a Stanford engineering professor. Price was a nature enthusiast and made his way to Fallen Leaf Lake in 1896. He built a boy’s camp upstream from Fallen Leaf Lake near Glen Alpine Springs. At the camp, the boys learned to fish, hunt and live in the outdoors. They climbed the mountains, measured the trails with bicycle wheels, and installed plaques at the top of the peaks so hikers could record their visits.
Heather Lake was a likely hiking destination for Price and the boys from his Camp
After Price married he brought his wife to camp, so family members of the boys thought it was a good idea and joined their campers. More and more guests visited the camp each summer. At nearby Glen Alpine Springs Resort, the proprietors were a bit unhappy that the campers’ relatives were staying at the camp and not their hotel. The story goes that one summer there were 75 visitors at the camp, so the resort owners informed Price that they would no longer carry milk and mail for a competitor.
Price then moved his ‘Housekeeping Camp’ to the south end of Fallen Leaf Lake where Stanford Sierra Camp is today.
The dock at the Price Housekeeping Camp
In 1905 Price built several tent cabins and a kitchen, then in 1907 with many families other than those of the camp boys visiting, Price built cabins which are now our staff cabins along “Rustic Row”.
A recent photo of some rustic row cabins
Thanks to Carol Thomsen, wife of former director Chris Thomsen, we have a record of the early years at Fallen Leaf Lake. Stay tuned, we’ll continue the history next month!
March 20th, 2013
There are many benefits to selecting a conference center such as Stanford Sierra which provides all of your meeting and event needs.
An all-inclusive conference package plan is budget friendly in that you know all or most costs up front. Our packages include lodging, meals, coffee breaks, meeting rooms, A/V equipment, internet access, recreation, airport transfers, taxes and service fees. Above the package, you can add recreation options, maybe a yoga class or a cruise on our 22-passenger pontoon boat for your attendees during their free time. You can also schedule social hours with hors d’oeuvres and beverages and add beer, wine and sodas to your dinner. Once you know your agenda and attendance, then we can finalize the social hour food and beverage menu, and either provide an estimate of the costs or you can give us an amount not to exceed.
Add a lakefront social hour to your meeting
Another benefit of an all-inclusive conference center is with everything provided onsite, guests stay here for their downtime and are thoroughly engaged attendees. We regularly hear from our groups that the networking and idea-sharing that goes on among participants when they are not in organized meetings is a valuable benefit of meeting here on Fallen Leaf Lake.
Relaxing lakefront during a meeting break
Most of our employees live onsite and are all-purpose staff, so they are accustomed to working all aspects of service. Since Stanford Sierra is their home, staff members take ownership and go out of their way to make sure everyone has a good overall experience. Our staff tend to be an energetic and happy group!
Setting up for a coffee break isn't all work!
The majority of time we serve just one group at a time, so activities and meal options can be customized for your event. Our staff members can lead guided hikes or we can create team scavenger hunt challenges. We can customize your food and beverage events including lakefront barbecue lunches or dinners.
A team cooking challenge is an option
Check availability on our website if you think our all-inclusive center will work well for your next event. We’re open spring and fall for groups of 30 – 180.
March 12th, 2013
Thursday, April 25 to Sunday, April 28 is the third annual Alumni Creative Camp at Stanford Sierra Conference Center on Fallen Leaf Lake. Stanford alumni were given the first opportunity to register, now with some space remaining, reservations are open to the general public.
Fallen Leaf Lake photo taken by Cindy Pearson at the 2012 Creative Camp
The program includes excellent instructors from Stanford University including Professor Bernard Roth, co-founder of Stanford’s d.school, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. Join Dr. Roth for a ‘hands-on’ introduction to design thinking methodology. Check out the d.school blog to get an idea of what you will learn from Professor Roth (and your fellow campers!)
Photography is another popular component of the Creative Camp with professional photographer Joel Simon and Stanford instructor Forrest Glick. Read more about Joel and see a collection of his beautiful images on his website.
Instructor Forrest Glick giving one-on-one photo advice
You will spend some time with Joel and Forrest in the classroom, then head outside to capture the beauty of Fallen Leaf Lake and the surrounding mountains.
There is a writing component to this year’s Creative Camp with two writing workshops. Stanford alum and popular food writer and cooking instructor, Tori Ritchie, will share her expertise in her workshop “Food as Memoir: How to Create Delicious Stories from your Life”. To complement Tori’s workshop, Hans and Jen Hartvickson will help you to create an ebook in three hours. Hans and Jen are high energy Stanford graduates who make a living writing children’s books and teaching kids the importance of goal setting and making plans.
... and Jen performing at the 2012 Creative Camp
For the full schedule visit the Creative Camp website. The weekend also includes time for hiking, kayaking and relaxing in front of the fire with a glass of port and your fellow campers. The all-inclusive weekend is at comfortable Stanford Sierra Conference Center, visit our website for more information on our delicious meals and comfortable lodging.
The program is limited to just 50 participants, so register today for this fun and inspiring weekend!
March 4th, 2013
The cabins at Stanford Sierra aren’t your typical log cabin in the woods. Most of our cabins were built in the 1970s and look more like condominiums. We call each building a “cluster” of cabins.
Part of the Willow cluster of cabins with Fallen Leaf Lake in the background
Each building holds either four or six cabins giving us 52 cabins total spread throughout the property. In addition to the cabins, there are 12 single rooms in the main lodge.
The main lodge
The Point cabins wrap around the point which is just beyond the boat dock. Jeffrey Pine and Sugar Pine cabins are right in front of the boat dock and Willow and White Fir cabins are the closest to the lake with a great view of the length of the lake without other Camp buildings or homes in your view.
Jeffrey Pine and Sugar Pine cabins front the boat dock
There are a few different floor plans in the cabins. Our summer family camp for Stanford alumni is our signature program, so the cabins were designed to accommodate a family. Each cabin has one bedroom with a queen bed, a second bedroom with two twin beds and about half of the cabins have a living room/ third bedroom also with two twins. At the Point, there are four different floor plans. For groups looking to maximize attendees in private bedrooms, the three-bedroom cabins in Willow and White Fir provide three private rooms with closing doors and one bathroom per cabin.
A cabin in the hills area with view of Fallen Leaf Lake
The Lakes cabins are located on your left as you drive into Stanford Sierra with the Hills cabins just up behind them. From all of the Lakes and Hills cabins you have a great view of Fallen Leaf Lake. There are just two different floor plans in the Lakes and Hills cabins. The A and C cabins are three bedrooms with the third bedroom being semi-private. The B and D cabins are two bedrooms each with a closing door on either side of the bathroom.
A cabin bedroom with two twin beds
Depending on the lodging needs of your group and whether they require single or shared accommodations determines the sleeping capacity of Stanford Sierra. If all meeting attendees need private bedrooms with private baths, there are 64 separate lodging units. If private bedroom and shared bathrooms work for attendees staying in the cabins, then our lodging accommodates 120 total. If sharing bedrooms and bathrooms works for some of your attendees, then our maximum capacity is 180.
For a full overview of the lodging at Stanford Sierra, watch our video.
Stanford Sierra Conference Center Lodging Overview
Stanford Sierra is available spring and fall for groups of 25 to 180 looking for an all-inclusive package with lodging, meals, meeting space and recreation. Check availability or request a proposal.
August 8th, 2012
This spring we held a very successful Alumni Creative Camp for Stanford University alumni. We partnered with University faculty to put together the structure and content of the weekend. Our goal was 50 attendees, and we exceeded with final attendance at 52. The attending alumni gave great reviews of the program, and plans are underway for the 2013 retreat. Following are five successful components of the program that you can use to boost creativity at your next corporate retreat.
Location and setting: Our serene and somewhat secluded location on beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake was just the right place for attendees to slow down, breathe deeply and relax. In the post event evaluation, many participants commented on the location: “The setting on Fallen Lake is the most valuable part of the whole program!” Another attendee remarked “There was a sense of freedom created by the Camp” “Gorgeous, relaxing setting” “The physical setting contributes tremendously”. “Sierra Camp is just an incredible place”.
Calm morning on Fallen Leaf Lake
Our main lodge has the corporate retreat facilities to host a productive meeting with the amazing backdrop of Fallen Leaf Lake and the surrounding mountains.
Brainstorming with an inspiring view of Fallen Leaf Lake
Create a balanced blend of fun and substance We kicked off the three-day program with a social hour with beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres. As each person entered the room, our hosts placed a sticker on their back with the name of a famous person. Attendees could then ask each other “yes” and “no” questions to determine who they were. This activity offered an easy, non-threatening way for the group to interact. Along with well known figures, we used many Stanford names to support the camaraderie of the group of alumni. For your corporate retreat, You could theme the names to support the goals of your program and direct the conversations. Two recent Stanford graduates, Davey Feder and Shilpa Sakar, who took classes in Stanford’s d.school facilitated the icebreaker and subsequent evening activities including a team dessert art challenge and a talent show. Davey and Shilpa’s high energy and friendly demeanor added to the casual, friendly atmosphere of the event.
Davey and Shilpa, our friendly, energetic hosts for Creative Camp's evening activities
Provide an unexpected activity to get participants out of their everyday brain 90% of the participants gave “excellent” reviews to Aleta Hayes, dance instructor, who started each day with a half hour of “liquid flow” which Aleta describes as “A combination of dance improvisation, yoga and Tai Chi to spring into full creative expression each morning. Participants experience the joy of fluid, juicy movement and playful dancing with freedom and ease.”
Participants tapping their creativity during liquid flow
Participants commented “I’m not a dancer, but loved Aleta’s energy and found that surprisingly fun.” “The movement classes were beyond wonderful – fun and purposeful both, because the three mornings built on each other, and by the end Aleta was showing us how to get outside ourselves when faced with “performance.” That was extremely useful.” “I thought the dance started everyone off on the right foot, positive and ready to engage.”
Aleta Hayes getting the group moving
Keep it interactive
The core sessions of the creative camp included instruction, then an opportunity for participants to work on their own or collaboratively. One participant commented “The presenters used great techniques to mix us up in different combinations.” Another said, “The collaborative process with a partner whose technical skills complemented my life. Experience resulted in a productive and fun process.”
All sessions included time for collaboration
Provide downtime to process what they learned
A large benefit of events at Stanford Sierra is all participants are onsite for the duration of the program. We built downtime activities into the Creative Camp beginning with yoga classes in the morning and ending the day with port in front of the fireplace and stargazing cruises on our pontoon boat.
Morning yoga with a view of Fallen Leaf Lake
Relaxing during a pre-dinner social hour
Plus all meals are served in the dining room giving ample time for casual interactions during meals.
You can use these five elements in your next corporate retreat to create a productive and fun event for your staff. Of course, every group is different with different goals, we can help you tailor your event to fit your group’s needs and desires.
July 10th, 2012
For years now, Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters has been teaching and guiding fly fishing for groups and individuals at Stanford Sierra Camp. Experiences range from a fireside chat on the where, when and how to go fishing or a casting workshop to a guided experience on a remote river or stream.
A fly casting workshop on Sierra Camp's Baby beach
The fishing right near Camp can be great and opportunities abound within a short hike or drive with Camp’s location in the central Sierra Nevada mountains. Spring visitors have the opportunity to fish Glen Alpine Creek where the fishing can be excellent for Rainbow trout and now the Lahontan cutthroat trout. As the season progresses and the flows subside, the fishing tends to be better up higher, above the waterfalls, but do not expect to see huge fish up there most are in the 6-8 inch range.
A Lahontan cutthroat trout caught in Glen Alpine Creek this spring
There are years that the flows stay strong allowing fishing through most of the summer but this year, with the low snow pack, the fishing will get tough by the middle of summer.
My son Winston fishing Glen Alpine Creek this June
Recently I attended a meeting with the US Forest and Wildlife Service (USF&WS) about the Lahontan cutthroat recovery project in Fallen Leaf Lake and Glen Alpine Creek where they announced they had filmed the trout spawning in the creek after 10 years of stocking the lake! Hopefully this will lead to a self-sustaining population in the near future. We were all exited to hear this news! Historically the trout grew to enourmous size and some of the biggest fish that swam Fallen Leaf were up to 20 pounds and even bigger in Lake Tahoe. Hopefully we will have the chance to fish for these behemoths in our lifetime our at least future generations should be able to.
So, next time you’re coming to Camp or are setting up a group during the spring or fall thing about going fly fishing or taking one of our introduction classes. Fly fishing fits perfectly with all of the other activities that the Fallen Leaf area has to offer!
June 22nd, 2012
There is a Washoe Indian legend about the formation of Fallen Leaf and the surrounding lakes. A warrior was fleeing from an evil spirit with only a leafy branch in his hand given to him by a deity called the good one. The warrior was told if pursued by danger, drop the magical branch and water would appear where the branch fell. In a fit of panic, the warrior snapped the branch and dropped half. Rapidly, water began to rise creating a barrier between the warrior and the evil one now known as Lake Tahoe. With relief, the warrior continued to flee the evil one. As the warrior hurried up the canyon to where Fallen Leaf Lake now lies, he spotted the evil one once again. With only half the branch and four leaves the warrior plucked a leaf and waited with bated breath as it fell to the ground. Once again, water sprang up and Fallen Leaf Lake was formed. The warrior continued to run, and as he dropped the rest of the leaves Lily, Grass and Heather Lakes rose up to protect him. The warrior crossed the wastes of Desolation Valley and leaving the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada, found safety in the neighboring Sacramento Valley.
- View of Fallen Leaf Lake from the Angora Ridge fire lookout
Now, as much as running from an entity called the evil one would not be on my list of things to do, I am however happy that this Washoe warrior unintentionally created amazing hiking scenery for Stanford Sierra Conference Center guests and staff members to enjoy. There are a plethora of incredible hikes that not every conference retreat center can offer. A few days ago fellow staffers and I enjoyed an invigorating hike to Angora Lakes. With walking sticks in hand, we made our way to the Clark Trail and hiked up to the Angora Ridge fire lookout. Built in 1924, the fire lookout is no longer active, but the lookout is considered a historical landmark and offers incredible views of Fallen Leaf lake.
Now if honor and glory are more your goals, Mount Tallac is the hike for you. Located at 9,738 ft. (3,300 feet above Fallen Leaf Lake) Mt. Tallac offers some of the most breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the Crystal Range in Desolation Wilderness. You can choose your own adventure by taking the Cathedral Lake Trail or the Glen Alpine Trail. This is not for the faint of heart, but the reward is getting to the top and feeling like you have conquered a mountain.
Majestic Mt Tallac reflected in Fallen Leaf Lake
If you are more city mouse than country mouse take a picnic basket and a loved one and head up to the Lower Falls and Lily Lake. A easy-going, but lovely hike that will take you to the picturesque area of Lily Lake. Be sure to have a Kodak moment with the bubbling waterfalls along the way. Break out that picnic basket and enjoy the amazing scenery in front of you.
- Oh the wonders of Lily Lake
Excellent hiking is just one of the many benefits of coming to Stanford Sierra Conference Center. If you are interested in more information about the Fallen Leaf area check out the informative book, A Nature Guide to The Southwest Tahoe Basin, written by Charles Quinn with selected essays by Rebecca Chaplin. You can find it for sale in the fountain store here at SSCC where we sell many other fine products. So what are you waiting for ? Get your hiking shoes on and get out here!
- Informative books and more here at the SSCC Fountain Store!
March 19th, 2012
BizBash is a very user-friendly and fun website where you can find event planning news, ideas and resources. Bizbash recently posted an article on the TED Conference which just finished up last week in Long Beach. The article shared the top ideas to steal from the conference. I found two of the 13 ideas that I think might be easy to implement for our upcoming Alumni Creative Camp scheduled for April 26-29.
Progressive idea cards
The first is progressive idea cards. The cards are part of the ‘Progressive Ideas Project’ which strives to bring innovative thinkers together and determine how to bring great ideas to life and make them happen. Kind of a large undertaking, so this idea might not be so easy to implement, but I like the concept!
The second idea is the “Before I die…..” blackboard designed and hosted by artist and TED fellow Candy Chang.
"Before I die....."
A few submissions caught my eye: “Plow over every fear I encounter and be unstoppable!” “Laugh EVERY DAY!” “FLY!” Post a “Before I die….” board at your next event for your attendees to share their hopes and dreams.
Visit the Bizbash website for ideas to help you plan your next event, and be sure to take a look at the TED article and let me know what ideas you find worth stealing.