WAYMART — Local vacation destination, Keen Lake Camping & Cottage Resort turned 65 this year, with a grand celebration of its business success held on June 22.
What started as a single cottage built by James and Dorothy (Davitt) Keen in 1954 has now, after six and a half decades, grown into a multi-plot cottage and campsite rental resort which hustles and bustles most between May and October every year.
Keen Lake Camping & Cottage Resort is now under the watchful eyes of Jennifer (Keen) Wertz, Jim Ann (Keen) Petroski, Jane (Keen) Kopa and Janet Keen, four of James' and Dorothy's seven daughters.
“Each day brings an opportunity to greet a returning friend or meet a new one. We respect how hard our guests work and how valuable their leisure
time is. We think it is our job to provide opportunities for families to have face-to-face time as well as to relax and renew,” said Janet Keen in a press release.
Later in the release, Keen Lake CEO, Jennifer (Keen) Wertz, added “It is both exciting and humbling to celebrate this benchmark. Certainly, the cornerstone of any success story is hard
work and dedication, but our secret 'sauce' is our guests.
“Anytime a family is together is cause for celebration and to be welcoming the great
grandchildren of my mom and dad's first guests is just unbelievable to us. We have had a front row seat as these families grew and evolved, and we are so grateful for the experience.”
Surrounded by guests old and new, and surprised by a visit from the Wayne County Commissioners bearing a certificate of recognition, the crew at Keen Lake celebrated their 65th anniversary with a dedication of their newly built pavilion and fire pit.
Named, “The Gathering,” the pavilion was dedicated “to our dear friends and families who have gathered here and will continue to gather here,” Janet Keen explained in an interview.
She noted the celebration “was really remarkable” and “a lovely, lovely party,” where the overall community support showed in spades.
Keen explained in its 65 years of business, Keen Lake has received a wealth of support from businesses and communities in Waymart, Honesdale and the surrounding areas.
“I believe we survive because we live in a great community,” she said, noting the Keen Lake staff are sure to inform their guests of all the surrounding areas have to offer.
Keen Lake across the years
In 1954, James and Dorothy Keen built a cottage on the shore of the lake which had been in the family since 1814.
As noted on the campground's website, up until that point, the property had served as host to part of the Gravity Railroad—the memory of which survives in the campground's Gravity Lane—and the lake itself was a prime source of large ice blocks used as rudimentary refrigeration prior to the advent of electricity.
As noted in a press release, the 1954 cottage was intended as a family getaway, but soon grew into much more.
“The cottage industry
expanded bit by bit over the years,” states a release. “In 1955, the country schoolhouse was transformed into a two-bedroom cottage. In 1956 yet another, built on the island in the center of the 90-acre lake went up on the site of a popular 1800's dance hall where revelers were transported to and from the island aboard wooden rafts.”
This location on Hermit Island is among the most popular accommodations in the resort, noted Petroski in the release.
She further stated, “Camping soon followed when our parents permitted friends of cottage guests to park their RV on the grounds so that the two families could enjoy their vacation together.”
Sixty-five years later, Keen Lake Camping & Cottage Resort serves an average of 1,500 people each weekend, many of whom are legacy patrons whose families have visited for decades, Keen noted.
Even with the growth over time and the implementation of newer and more modern accommodations, “At the heart of it, we remain who we are,” said Keen, noting the resort's focus was and still is on simple family values.
In 65 years, Keen Lake Camping & Cottage Resort has been lauded as a Country Living Magazine 12 Must See RV Friendly Parks, a Trip Advisor Excellence Honoree, and one of the ten “Coolest Parks for RV Camping” by MSN.com, according to a release.
Keen Lake also represents Pennsylvania in RV Heaven—the Best Place to Stay in Every State with your Motorhome—and has won numerous Happie Awards for Best Campground thanks to votes from readers of Happenings Magazine.
In addition to these accolades, Keen noted one thing she and her sisters are especially proud of is being able to stand on the foundation laid by their parents, build on it, expand it, and one day pass it on to the next generation to keep the campground going for another 65 years and beyond.
—Information from a release was used in this story.