We already know Callawassie Island feels like home, which means it can also feel like family. But in a spirit of constant evolution, as ever changing as the tides that shape the land, the population is changing and with it comes the most family-friendly news on the growing roster of CI Clubs.
Co-Chair Rachel Creveling sets the stage explaining, “a decade ago there were only a few families, but now there are over 20 families and tons of school-age children, we wanted to create a casual but formalized way for the families to connect on a regular basis, just like the Women’s Club or the Callawassie Men’s Golf Association, for example,” she says naming a couple of the Island’s most broad interest groups.
Co-Chair Valerie Smith sings the same tune, saying, “Ultimately, CIFC is an opportunity and a time for families on the island to come together and enjoy each other. The past couple of years have been tough (on everyone) and these families with children and grandchildren need an opportunity to play, talk, catch up, get to know each other.” This is already turning into the number one club for all the feels.
With a heavy dose of “aww,” the CIFC also takes their service to families seriously. Says Creveling, “The club works tirelessly to provide the highest quality amenities for our membership. After COVID restrictions were lifted, we worked with staff members David Spivey, Lindsey Cooler and members Sue Guidera and Deborah Dykes to formalize a Family Club to ensure the youngest members could enjoy these amenities with a focus on events and activities specifically for them.” Smith acknowledges the same giving thanks to those names as the ones “who helped make the club official” after the idea had been milling around the community for a while.
The Club has long been needed – a word which sets this club apart from the rest. The others are wanted and do have great impact on lives and lifestyle at Callawassie. From physical fitness to building relationships with like-minds and restorative connection to nature, clubs like golf, kayak, photography, tennis all play an essential role in the overall health and well-being of the island and its inhabitants. But a Family Club has the potential to tie those together and lift up-and-over into a deeper societal need:
“Children need an opportunity to meet other children in the neighborhood.” Smith states, adding, “In today’s world that isn’t as easy as it used to be. Having a structured event like the CIFC that can then hopefully spin off into real friendships is the ultimate reason for the club. It will help give these kids and their families a sense of belonging.”
It should be noted that “neighbors” means everyone because rule number one about Family Club is, it makes a difference to all. First, everyone on the island is family. Second, families come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and seasons, from permanent school kids to visiting grandkids, to those who just want to support the club and be surrogate grandparents and supporters.
Creveling celebrates, “We want the family club to mean more than just literally ‘your family’ since Callawassie itself feels like extended family. We all share this beautiful slice of paradise and so few get to call CI home. In a way, we are the CI family.”
Within that spirit there’s an additional benefit to this club that ties the function of the whole island together, including a unique consideration about participating in CI’s existing extensive roster of clubs and activities.
Families with kids set to participate in our kid-versions of clubs and events are obviously the core of the initiative.
However, the goal is to branch even further. The club leaders send a shout-out to all generations – all ages and stages – calling all Islanders.
Creveling: “We’ve had lots of older, retired neighbors say ‘Can I come? I want to meet everyone and maybe do some babysitting,’ for example. The answer is YES, please come! The best way to support CIFC, is to attend the events – even if your kids have grown up already.”
Smith: “If grandparents know that their grandkids are going to be in town during one of our events, we hope that they join us! If families that live here are able to join us, please join us! Or if there are people that live here that want to show their support, please, show up and join us. We hope to be a welcoming club, attractive to anyone who wants to build friendships, network and connect with neighbors who are in this stage of life.”
“Not only does the clubhouse and its team support the CIFC and the development of these events, but the community has also been overwhelmingly excited and supportive,” says Creveling introducing the interconnectedness of the Family Club to other groups and events. “The photography club, racquet club, bocce/croquet club (and more) have all begun planning family-friendly events.”
One of those spin-offs has begun to take shape after a club father, Joshua Lingenfelter, worked to get weekly tennis going for participating families. Dad to two island kids, he connected with the CI tennis pros to start group lessons for all the kids who now live across the causeway.
As for other events, outings, activities, and plans, they’re letting the agenda develop organically through the folks who get involved. Smith says, “Rachel and I agreed from the start that this club should start out slow and give the kids and parents an opportunity to get to know each other over pizza and games at the Clubhouse once a month. As the interest grows, and the number of families grow, we will slowly add in different events. I think as we head into the summer, we will add more fun things like movie nights,” and other ideas parents, kids, and neighbors are bringing to the collective table.
“Right now,” Smith says, “the only support [the Family Club] needs is for families to show up. Strength in numbers. The Club has been very supportive so far. They let us take over a large portion of the Clubhouse once a month, they take the reservations, they send out the invites and provide the food!”
If you’re an Islander, you are part of the family, and you’re invited: “Come to our events,” says Smith getting down to business, “Lindsey Cooler, Communications and Membership Director, will be sending an invite out for each month’s events. For more information you can reach out and email us at Valeriesmith0074@gmail.com or email@example.com.
Can you feel it? Like all the Callawassie clubs, this one balances the warmth of connection with a foundation of purpose running under the surface like a strong and powerful current. “I think what I’m most excited about is the sense of belonging it helps to create for families,” says Smith in this spirit. “I moved here six years ago with my husband and two boys. With CIFC it gives families with kids a feeling of comfort and support, knowing there are other families here, ready to welcome them.”
It’s Callawassie doing what Callawassie does best, showing up, getting involved and invested, and above all, Becoming Family.