Through the Years…
The Double JJ Ranch (formerly the Jack and Jill Ranch) welcomed its first guests in 1937. In 1988 the resort was sold and expansion began with adding on the Thoroughbred Golf Course, the Thoroughbred Conference Center and Suites, the Back Forty Ranch and the Gold Rush Waterpark.
Expansion…But Not Changes
For over 70 years, the Double JJ has been known as “America’s Friendliest Resort.” Today and tomorrow – no matter how much we grow or who the owners are – we are still determined to take you away from the hustle and bustle of city life so you can kick back, relax and go home refreshed.
A Trip Down Memory Lane… As Told by our Very own Wally
“The year was 1914 when George and Mary Stouch left their home in Central Germany and settled on 80 acres of pristine farmland in Western Michigan. The farm included a brick home built by the Kennedy family in 1894. Also, the land embraced a large, spring fed lake: Big Wildcat Lake. Their dream of raising a family in the beautiful rural setting would be the beginning of an exciting, fulfilling life.
George was a gifted farmer. His cherry and peach orchards sustained the Stouchs and their three children, Robert, George Jr., and daughter Roma. They were well educated and all three left the farm to seek employment in Chicago.
In 1930 Roma was employed as an instructor at a private school for girls. She was the first to commercially use the beautiful lake setting and surrounding woods at their father’s farm. She presented a summer camping experience at beautiful Wildcat Lake to her students, hoping to get their parents approval. Roma would be the counselor and instruct 8 to 12 year olds in outdoor camping, crafts, swimming, drama, dancing, and sports (including horseback riding). Her project got parental approval, and her first year brought 23 girls to her camp. The camp was named “Cedar Shores” because of the hundreds of white cedar trees surrounding the lake. A stone wall at the corner of Water and Clay Road stands today with an embedded bronze plaque marking the site of the first family business attempt.
The deep depression of the early thirties cut short Roma’s efforts and the Cedar Shores experience faded into history.
The beauty of the lake and camping ease was well known in the community, and during the summer of 1933 the family invited local churches congregations to send their children to the farm for a supervised, well counseled summer vacation. This was the Cedar Shores experience two years later, but with kids. To honor their young guests the family renamed the farm “The Jack and Jill Ranch.” Although the kids’ ranch remained only two years (followed by a more grandiose camping experience) the name Jack and Jill Ranch was a success beyond imagination, and was called by that name until the mid 1970s when the owners decided to change the name to the Double JJ Ranch Resort, and today to the Double JJ Resort.
George Storm (having changed his name from Stouch to Storm) was teaching psychology at Miami University, Florida…the year was 1934. In addition to his classes in speech, public speaking, and psychology, he was head counselor to departing senior students. He learned that they enjoyed their vacations with people their own age, rather than the wheelchair brigade or little brother tagging along. His concept of bringing people of the same age…18 to 35…together for an outdoor vacation and camping experience was a winner. Also, he had just the place…The Jack and Jill Ranch. In 1936 George Storm, the college professor and visionary, took control and with family help embarked on his concept. He named the new venture The Jack and Jill Colony Camp…later changed to the Jack and Jill Ranch. The Ranch grew and expanded as George bought neighbor farms and extended marketing.
The resort continues its’ growth to this day, drawing guests from all over the world. Keeping the Western culture and heritage in place with an emphasis on treating guests to warm, friendly, family-like experience has given the resort the distinction of being the biggest western style dude ranch east of the Mississippi…and America’s Friendliest.
The ownership has changed hands five times with each ranch host expanding and improving this destination resort. Today there are in excess of 1,000 acres of ranch property, three large lakes, an Arthur Hills championship golf course (1993), Sundance Saloon and Steakhouse (1996), Back Forty resort for kids and families (1998), and most recently the 60,000 square foot Gold Rush Indoor Waterpark and adjoining condo rental suites (2006).
Present management brings new talent and plans to continue the Double JJ tradition of delivering and exceeding guest expectations in every department, offering adventure-packed western style getaways and family friendly vacations…America’s friendliest.”