Lenette And The Las Vegas Dream

In the early 60s, after the opening of Camp Shasta, Lenette woke me up from a dream she was having: “Sy, I just dreamt we built and operated a Youth Hotel in Las Vegas. I saw the building, and it was all so real.” 

She immediately went back to sleep, but I couldn’t. Instead, I thought, “How do I make this happen?” I had my answer in minutes. 
I would assemble a group of well-off people who were sending their kids to camp and who might be willing to invest based on their camp experience and the quality of the investment. Lenette and I would do all the leg work and be the operators. 

One of our parents happened to be a CPA who did this kind of work. I called, and we met. He liked the idea, and we put a group together. 

Lenette and I were so jazzed by the idea that we sold our home and moved to Las Vegas. Lenette soon found a house to purchase, and we all moved into our new digs.

Then, we began to search for land. As they say, “Location, location, location.” We found our ideal 5 acres across from a large church and a growing community. Also, they were beginning construction of houses and apartments in the neighborhood.

It was a perfect place for the programs we planned, including a preschool, afterschool program for elementary kids, tutoring, guidance, sports, and week-end programs for older kids.

We intended to cover all bases when it came to youth, and we did. 

Lenette designed the building with these many programs in mind. Our preschool occupied about a third of the property with its own playground. The many other programs each had their own space. Walls were moveable, making rooms expandable. There was a full kitchen and a multi-use dining room. Dormitories for boys and girls when parents needed to be away for weekends. An Olympic-sized outdoor pool and a four-acre athletic field.  If it could be thought of, Lenette found a place for it.

The Children’s Campus was designed to be a private community center for all ages, addressing most families’ needs for their children’s well-being and education. Lenette did all the drawings and gave her best to the design, so much so that architectural firms sought to hire her.

Whatever Lenette took on, she gave it her best—including caring for me, Jeff, and the pets, making us a home, teaching, and being a counselor at camp. All this while running the business end of our firm.

The staff we hired for every program was as professional and able as Las Vegas had to offer. As always, training for excellence never ceased, and success was achieved in every program. Not only was the Children’s Campus growing in reputation but also in enrollment and use.

Later on, when I worked with professionals and entrepreneurs, Lenette typed my research notes. She was my “go-to gal” whenever I needed to discuss my discoveries. Looking back, it’s clear that Lenette made me what I became. 

Author: Sy Ogulnick

Sy Ogulnick received a BA from UCLA, Teacher’s Credential from Los Angeles Board of Education and completed phase I (Master’s portion) in a Doctor of Behavioral Science program at California Coast University. Sy leased and operated a summer day camp in LA. He and his wife then purchased virgin wilderness land in Northern CA, where they built and operated a coed summer camp. They moved to Las Vegas, NV, and purchased, built and operated a community children’s program for families staying in a major resort casino in Las Vegas. They have created programs for children nationwide that employed many people and in the process developed successful training programs for personnel. This led Sy to lecture on how to train staff and the creating of community within the workplace. Sy was then invited to speak at professional conferences on how best to hire and train employees, which led to his becoming a consultant in the art of improving relationships in a work environment and eventually to his epiphany that “Leaders are the primary problem and the answer to the personnel issues that arise in the workplace.” Sy has written numerous papers on the subject of interpersonal relationships, leadership and power. He has lectured throughout the United States, has been interviewed by the media and has appeared on many radio and TV talk shows

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