Double JJ Resort opened as the Jack and Jill Ranch in 1937. In 1914 George and Mary Stouch left their home in Central Germany and settled on 80 acres of farmland in West Michigan. The farm included a brick home built by the Kennedy family in 1894. The land also embraced a large, spring fed lake, Big Wildcat Lake.
In 1930 daughter Roma was employed as an instructor at a private school for girls. She was the first to use the lake setting and surrounding woods at their father’s farm commercially. She presented a summer camping experience at 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 ease of camping was well known in the community, and during the summer of 1933 the family invited local church 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 the property was called by that name until the mid-1970s when the owners decided to change the name to the Double JJ Ranch.
George Storm, a professor at Miami University, Florida in 1934, learned as head counselor to departing senior students that they enjoyed vacations with people their own age. His concept of bringing people of the same age (18 to 35) together for an outdoor vacation and camping experience was a winner. 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 Ranch. The Ranch grew and expanded as George bought neighboring 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.
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