We have a really cool tradition at Haan's 1830. Every spring and every fall, a group of friends and family come up to the island to help us prep the Inn - either for opening in the spring or closing up in the fall. Its a pretty great system. We get a ton of work done (the last couple of years we have had roughly 20 helpers each season) in a short amount of time, and the deal is that these helpers trade a weekend of work for a weekend of vacation at the Inn during the season. While logistically some will point out that we actually loose money this way, which is probably accurate - we could do a lot of the work ourselves, or hire it out for cheaper than we loose on room revenue - but the thing is, we don't really care.
Don and Burgess cutting some trim to make some pretty flower boxes.
Lucas and I had a discussion about this after this season's work weekend. What an amazing gift: first to have fun with a group of friends while getting all of the crazy, kinda-crappy jobs done that need to get done in order for the Inn to survive; second to be able to have a way to have friends come and stay for free. When you own a Bed and Breakfast, you could approach friends and family visiting in a couple of ways. On one end of the spectrum you could allow them to stay for free every time, and then maybe loose out on a substantial part of your living. For example, how would you draw the line for who gets to stay for free? As soon as one friend/relative stays for free, others will hear about it and also expect to stay for free. On the other end of the spectrum, you could give no one any discounts and then miss out on the potential joy you could be experiencing from sharing your home with your friends. Lucas and I really want to be able to share our home and the island with friends and family, but how could we do it in a way that also honored that fact that this is our livelihood?
Carsten and the leaf blower.
I honestly don't know the exact story behind how "work weekends" were born, but they have been happening for a long time. It started with just my dad and a few of his friends and evolved into this amazing tradition. The work weekend that happened last weekend for this year's opening was the fourth work weekend I was in charge of. Its pretty exhausting - I am good at figuring out what needs to be done, very good at delegating those tasks, but not very good at giving specific directions (in fact it's like nails on a chalk board to me to be detailed about something or teach someone how to do something - when I was a kid I thought I would be a teacher, when I got to college I learned that weakness of mine really quick). I stress about the work - whether it will all get done, and then what happens if it doesn't get done. I stress about being taken advantage of - luckily I shouldn't stress about this, everyone is always a hard worker. I stress about whether people are having fun - I still have trouble gauging this. I stress about whether I am doing a good job as the little leader of this band of rag-tag workers. By the time the weekend is over I am happy, satisfied, and I get sick every time from the prolonged anxiety. But the reward is great.
A past work crew eating dinner together. We provide a bed, meals, and boat tickets to our work crew friends for the weekend they work.
This spring's work weekend the crew raked and bagged leaves and made the yard sparkle. They hauled a whole bunch of junk that had been taking up our storage space onto a dray (horse drawn receptacle) to be taken away. They painted rooms and bathrooms. They installed air conditioners and cleaned gutters. They updated our electrical to our shed out back and moved freezers to this more convenient location. They built new flower boxes and sorted a ton of laundry. And that's not even all of it. Wow, you guys, truly, wow. I feel so honored that this could all come together - that we have people who even want to do this and want to do it with me. So thankful for the blood and sweat that these friends put into it. So thankful for the opportunity to even be involved.
Now of course we still have more to do! I can't wait to show you pictures of our bathrooms that were remodeled, and of the Inn as the season starts to really pick up. Stay tuned on facebook and instagram for more!
And love to you, the reader,