As the saying goes, free things have no value. The corollary is that scarce things, regardless of price, do.
New this year, we are not managing access to complimentary toys. Effectively, this is paddles for paddle boards and kayaks. Families are loving it. In general, this has gone very well and most people are being responsible. And of course, the experience is a little different week by week. On the one hand, we had a family in the lodge that took it upon themselves to pull the boats up on the grass every night and placed the appropriate paddle on each; A+ because we can cruise by and quickly account for everything. On the other hand, during one week the boards and boats were left half in the water with paddles all over along the beach. C- only because nothing was actually lost or broken. Even as the families saw us pull them up and organize them, they didn’t seem to recognize that we’re picking up after them.
So Patty and I discussed and agreed that if we organize and collect boards during a week, then the paddles will go back in the store for the week. The message is - please manage our valuables even if we don’t charge for them. If we need to manage them, that will make them scarce. And note, the office hours are limited.
The water bouncer was another very popular free amenity. It did have rules that were frequently ignored. The most important rules were capacity and using paddle boards, kayaks, and other devices to board it. Enforcing the rules was difficult. At some point a curious person let some air out. It's a process to replace the air and using it under-inflated adds stress to the seams. It is now in disrepair and it's not clear it can be fixed. We are working to resolve this.
We have a small playhouse for the young kids. Unfortunately, the older kids liked to climb on it. We don't blame them, it was great fun. Unfortunately, the windows and sides are now broken and it needs to go up to the shop for a rebuild.
In the same sense, for the past few years firewood was available for free. Additionally, we added two fire pits so that everyone would have an opportunity. Last year a number of families used all the wood I supplied plus went digging in my wood pile for more. Fires were burning most of the day and through the night. By the end of the season our stockpile was gone and I was splitting wood on-demand. The supply became limited for everyone else. I now provide enough firewood to get you to the mosquito hour. I have some oak trees that will come down this fall. Next year I will have hard wood for sale as well as free soft wood for limited, small fires.
The message here is we work hard to help your family have fun. Please consciously consider your and your kids impact on others, including those to come. Nobody intends to break things, but we can all do our part and treat things as if we own them. We are working on additional amenities in the playing field, such as tetherball and miniature golf. How free things remain depends on all of us working together and taking care of the things we have.