Category Archives: Family Time

Stories about “Madden’s families.” The families that make Madden’s a part of their family traditions.

Spread the Holiday Cheer with Madden’s

For the sportsman, foodie, a loved one or the whole extended family, a gift card to Madden’s on Gull Lake is the perfect gift that gives the chance to build lifelong memories on an unforgettable vacation.

If your loved one just can’t wait to get to Madden’s before the 2012 season starts in April, gift cards are accepted at The Classic Grill at Madden’s through December 31. In addition to lodging, it can be used at the spa, or to play golf or tennis.

Dad’s pretty tired of getting ties, mom has enough books on the shelf, your significant other doesn’t need more cologne or perfume, so think outside of the box and give a gift they will never expect, but truly appreciate.

Madden’s gift cards make the perfect stocking stuffer and can be purchased by visiting Gift card amounts range from $25 to $1,000.

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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Family Time


Madden’s Fall School Break Weekend

This three night/four-day weekend will fly by with activities like bonfires, horseback riding, trap shooting, yoga, pontoon cruises and much more.

The school season is well underway but Fall Break is right around the corner! How will you keep the kiddies entertained? Enjoy the last weekend of the 2011 resort season at Madden’s on Gull Lake during our Fall School Break Weekend Oct. 20 – 23.

The Madden’s team will also help prepare for another spooktacular Halloween. Guests can stop by our pumpkin patch to pick up a pumpkin to carve for the contest as well as enjoy some hot cider and cookies! Kids can win prizes and trick-or-treat at our kids Halloween costume parade. No worries parents, you’ll have your chance to claim victory during the family costume contest a few hours later.

Before hitting the road and saying goodbye for the season, our bag piper will make his annual stroll across the Pine Beach East golf course at noon on Sunday to signal the end of the season at Madden’s.

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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Family Time


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Madden Family Tradition Continues as Fourth Generation Joins the Fun

Madden’s on Gull Lake has always been a family owned and operated resort. It began when the first piece of the resort was purchased in 1936 by Jack and his uncle Tom Madden. Since then, the tradition has continued. Whether you see family members strolling around the resort and mingling with guests or working hard behind the scenes in various roles such as decorating & design, managing lodging, or working in sales, the Madden family tradition persists daily here.

The 4th generation joins the fun at Madden's. (l-r) Beau Thuringer and Charlie Pieper enjoy a "little" round of golf

Generations of Madden’s:

1st generation: Jack Madden & Jim Madden
– – Opened resort with their uncle Tom in 1936

2nd generation: Brian & Deb (Madden) Thuringer
– – Current owners. Brian, President/General Manager
– – Deb, Vice President/

3rd generation: Ben & Becky Thuringer and Abbey (Thuringer) & Brad Pieper
– – Ben, Vice President/General Manager of the Lodge
– – Abbey, Vice President/

4th generation: Beau Thuringer and Charlie Pieper (pictured above)

Interested in learning more about the Madden family tradition?
The Star Tribune published an article recently and we have a more detailed post on our website.

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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Behind the Scenes, Family Time


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Closing Party at Madden’s

Fine dining. Fine Wine. Adult-focused. Evening bonfires. Beautiful fall colors. Adult Olypmics. Golf Scramble. Lawn bowling, croquet, and golf clinics. Wine glass painting. What more can you ask for in a fall getaway?

Each year at Madden’s we send off the season with a closing party. This year is our 82nd annual closing party – what a tradition!! The closing party is a weekend of fine food and wine geared toward adults. Imagine yourself enjoying a cool night sitting around a bonfire each evening.

Have you been able to join us for it yet? Why not try it this year! We have all of the same great amentities and services as social season and it is at an incredibly low rate! This year the dates for closing party are October 14th through the 16th. And we’ve dropped rates not just for closing party, but are offering the same prices as early as October 9th with our Fall Colors Getaway!

Fall Colors Getaway, October 9-14
Closing Party Getaway, October 14-16

The closing party weekend package includes breakfasts, dinners, a complimentary welcome reception, and golf on Pine Beach East. Rates begin at $82 per person per night. We welcome you to give one of our reservation specialists a call to learn more.

What you need to know:

What: Madden’s 82nd annual closing party
When: October 14-16, 2011
How: Call 800.642.5363 to speak with reservationist or reserve online at

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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Family Time, Madden's Events


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The Best Week of the Year at Madden’s

I made my way down to the Lodge recently in hopes of getting the opportunity to meet a family who has been staying at Madden’s “for like 50 some years” as reported to me by various employees around the resort. As I walked up to the front desk I inquired about this family. “Oh,” the front desk agent replied, “She’s just walking in now!” Our agent went on to introduce me to a Mrs. Marion Dorfman. Marion asked me what I needed and I told her I had come down to interview her if she was willing. She was happy to speak with me. Actually she was very happy to. She and I chatted for a good half hour. She told me so many stories about her stays at Madden’s for the last 56 years… that’s right, fifty-six. Fifty-six years of enjoying what she claimed to be the best week of the year at Madden’s.

Marion Dorfman is at home in the Lodge lobby. She reports having taken naps in this very spot on more than one occasion relaxing to Frank Sinatra music.

I do want to tell you a little more about Marion, but before I do, I want to tell you about the best week of the year at Madden’s.

The best week of the year at Madden’s is the week when guests at the Lodge expect to see their friends from last fifty some years. Marion reported she always gets a little sad when she notices someone is missing from last year. “We’re always happy to know they picked a different week,” she stated. Because after coming back for over 50 years, sometimes those folks that are missing have passed on to a better place.

The best week of the year at Madden’sis when you walk in the door to check-in humming the theme song from Cheers, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…”

The Seawood family enjoying their first "best week of the year at Madden's."

The best week of the year at Madden’s is when the chef makes homemade rhubarb sauce all week upon special request for a loyal guest.

The best week of the year at Madden’s is when Nellie at the front desk announces, “Mrs. D (Marion) is here. It doesn’t dare rain!” And, it never has.

The best week of the year at Madden’s is when you can laugh and remember years ago when you used to come here and folks came to dinner dressed up in suits and wearing gloves.

The best week of the year at Madden’s is the week when you get to check in on your family friends you see once a year. “Look how much Bobby has grown this year!” “Wow, Jenny, you’re married already?” The same family friends that call when they read in the paper that your younger brother just got married or that your parents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

A birthday party at a private dining room during the best week of the year at Madden's.

And you know the I greatest thing I learned about the best week of the year at Madden’s? After several interviews I learned the best week of the year at Madden’s is whenever YOU are here.

Shortly after interviewing Marion I learned she was not the specific person I had been given a lead on interviewing. Appparently many families have traditions reaching the 50 year mark in “her week.” And I think that is the charm of Madden’s. Marion explained it by sharing, “There is something about this place that is magical. I feel. My kids feel it. Now my grandkids feel it.” It was one of those moments that makes you want to tear up just listening.

I invite you to join us at Madden’s. Don’t you deserve your own best week of the year tradition?



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Young Girl Prepares Well For First Trip to Madden’s

Many children who join us each year look forward their vacation at Madden’s for months. For Gianna Bonello-Freund, 11, looking forward to Madden’s just wasn’t enough. Gianna was excited to visit Madden’s for the first time ever. In preparation for her week-long visit with her aunts, uncles, and cousins, she toured our entire website and took our virtual tour. Then in anticipation, Gianna wrote a story about Gull Lake. And this wasn’t just any story. Gianna, a single child, sprinkled the story with characters based on several of her cousins and family members. The 19 page document, cover page and all, tells the story of a family visiting Madden’s. A mystery develops when precious jewels go missing on the resort. The story reminded me of the many Boxcar Children books I read as a child as the “Mcleian” children solve the crime.

Gianna Bonello-Freund crafted a story about a mystery at Madden's in anticipation for her vacation.

Here are several clips from Gianna’s 19 page story…

As the family was heading back to their cabin a lady who was biking on a pink sparkly bike dropped a white letter. Grace got off her bike and picked it up. She could see the letters fairly well as she read them: Tell Jason tomorrow to get a hold on that treasure. Grace got on her bike and pedaled as fast as she could and yelling all the way until she caught up with that lady. She had long blond hair, blue eyes and was surprisingly wearing high heels. “Give me that!” The lady [Sasha Drole] screamed, “How did you get that?” “You dropped it. I only picked it up for you,” Grace replied a little nervously.


The children in the story enjoyed time at the Wilson Bay beach in between solving the mystery.

A skinny girl with pretty long dark hair came up to them, wearing purple jeans and carrying a black sparkly handbag. “Oh, hi Momma, Daddy, how was the pizza?” The girl said. “Emily where were you, and what were you doing?” Mrs. Noter asked. “I was getting ice cream.” “We told both of you to meet us in the pizza shop. Why didn’t you?” Mr. Noter asked…”Now I want you to meet our friends. They are staying above us. This is Ben and Chloe Mcleian. Then its baby Kelsey and, oh I don’t know the rest.” Mrs. Noter said. “I’m Grace and I’m eleven. This is Garrett, who is nine…”

“Oh yes Jason, I love her jewels. They sparkle so much and they really match brown eyes. They’re so pretty,” Sasha said. The children looked at each other. Sasha stole the jewels they were all thinking. Today was Thursday and they had gotten there on Sunday. They were leaving Saturday, so they had only two days to catch Sasha Drole.

Garrett ran to the window and saw Sasha Drole and Mark Noter walking along. “I know but-,” Mark said. “Listen to me, Mark. If you keep acting the way you are, then you are going to be in trouble,” Sasha snarled at Mark, as she looked at her watch. “Now go. It’s late.”

About midnight Gianna heard another scratching noise at the window. She woke Grace and they tiptoed to the sliding door. They saw a pair of purple jeans and a pearl ring and a diamond wedding ring sticking out of a black purse. The jeans were hanging on a branch, and the purse was hanging on a tree branch. Gianna and Grace looked at each other thinking, the jewels! “I’ve seen those jeans before, but where?” Grace said. “I recognize that handbag…”

They stayed watching until midnight, finally when almost all of the children were almost asleep, they heard a noise. They saw the back door of the building and a slim figure step out. When the person got to the tree, she climbed it, until she came to the balcony, there, the children could see their their parents pretending to be asleep. When the person got up to the branch in which the jeans and jewels were hiding, the person cried “Where did they go!” Mark jumped out, the parents got out of bed, and opened the sliding glass back door and Grace shined the flashlight at the tree. The person lost balance and fell. Luckily Mark was there to catch the person. When he caught the person he was looking into the face of his own sister.

**Eventually the missing jewels were found. Emily Noter had stolen them in hopes of a new cell phone. She returned them to Cristia Monteroly and paid her $900 to make up for it. All of the small mysteries that had arisen throughout the week were explained when everyone gathered as the Police arrived. The Mcleian children returned home Saturday “sad, but also proud and happy for solving the mystery.”


Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Family Time


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5 Family Fun “Field Trips” at Madden’s

Not that we expect you to get bored at Madden’s, but in case you want to explore further around the area, I thought I’d share a few ideas for field trips while you visit Madden’s. Here are the top 5 in no particular order.

Pirate’s Cove

A weekly adventure the staff at Adventure Cove have in store for the kids is mini golf. Pirate’s Cove mini golf course in Brainerd, MN can be an entertaining attraction for the kid’s to enjoy while at Adventure Cove or can make for a nice outing with the family. Their beautiful landscaping sets the scene for an great family outing with fantastic decoration bringing the “pirates cove” to life. Pirate’s Cove also offers go-cart rides so be ready for some nail-biting fun!

To learn more visit Sign up the kid’s up to attend by visiting Adventure Cove.

Outback Trail Rides:

Each week during social season, our Tennis & Croquet Club schedules tours and provides rides to and from Outback Trail Rides. Kid’s can also attend through our Adventure Cove children’s program.

You’ll be able to go for a 1 hour trail ride through the beautiful Pillsbury State Forest. They accept riders of all ages and all experience levels. If you want to set something up on your own you can do that as well. The company offers private or extended trail rides, hand-led pony rides, group rides, birthday parties, and a picnic area.

To learn more visit Sign up at the Tennis & Croquet Club or Adventure Cove.

Paul Bunyan Waterpark

Adventure Cove Children’s Program takes weekly trips to the Paul Bunyan waterpark in Baxter, MN. The 30,000 square feet of waterpark are sure to entertain anyone! There are two large waterslides; one of which is a halographic waterslide. You can select a theme of images and music to surround you as you make your trip down the tube slide!

To learn more visit  Sign up the kid’s up to attend by visiting Adventure Cove.

Sunup Ranch Tour

Feeding a horse a treat for the first time

The Sunup Ranch tour is another activity scheduled weekly by both our Tennis & Croquet Club and Adventure Cove. The tour lasts one and a half hours and consists of a wide range of activities including exploring traditional barns, seeing horses, bird and wild life watching, a hayride, riding demonstrations, and if available meeting a “baby” horse (foal) and/or baby cow (calf). My favorite was seeing the herd of horses in the pasture with their baby foals. Be sure to bring along your camera, bug spray, and binoculars.

To learn more visit Sign up at the Tennis & Croquet Club or Adventure Cove.

To try to get the kids to practice roping a calf, I had them take a photo of me doing it! Sadly, they did not reciprocate.

Jack’s Family bowling

The last of Adventure Cove’s weekly field trips is a visit to Jack’s House, Family Entertainment Center for bowling. Bowling is always a classic family activity. At Jack’s House you can bowl until your heart’s content at surprisingly low rates.

To learn more visit Sign up the kid’s to attend by visiting Adventure Cove.


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