Alumni Family Spotlight // The Family Vacation Center


Craig Hendrickson `69 shares a cherished Gaucho family tradition Hendrickson family portrait
A Hendrickson Tradition -- the Family Vacation Center Portrait: Tim McIntosh with Paula Henrickson McIntosh of Charleston, South Carolina; Meghan Hendrickson, Bret Hendrickson, Elenore Hendrickson and Nat Hendrickson from Boston, Massachusetts; Linda Hendrickson and Craig Hendrickson `69; Catherine Hendrickson, Justin Hendrickson `96, Alexis Hendrickson and Regan Hendrickson from Redmond, Washington. (Photo courtesy of the Family Vacation Center)

After more than four decades working at the helm of hospitals and healthcare systems in the Pacific Northwest, retired executive Craig Hendrickson `69 now spends his days focused on the big loves of his life: Linda, his wife of 47 years, their three children and five grandchildren.

“My wife has a sign at home that says `If I knew grandparenting was so much fun, I would have done it first,’” he said. “And it is very fun. We are a very happy family.”

Gaucho roots run deep in the Hendrickson clan. At UC Santa Barbara, Craig was on an athletic grant-in-aide, competing on the men’s water polo and swim teams. He met his future wife Linda, who also attended UCSB, at the student dining commons in Isla Vista. After graduation, Craig and Linda married and moved away from Santa Barbara – but never forgot the beauty and spirit of their UCSB days.

For many summers -- from the hectic years parenting three young children, to multi-generational reunions with in-laws and grandchildren -- the Hendricksons returned to the UC Santa Barbara campus to take part in a beloved Gaucho family tradition: the Family Vacation Center hosted by the UCSB Alumni Association.

Since 1969, the Family Vacation Center has brought alumni families back to campus to enjoy a weeklong, all-inclusive vacation at UC Santa Barbara. From campfire gatherings to family sports, arts and crafts and events, the Family Vacation Center has offered “the best vacation since becoming parents” for nearly half a century.

In this special Alumni Family Spotlight, Craig Hendrickson tells us about his early days at UC Santa Barbara, the delights of parenthood AND grandparenthood, and why the UCSB Family Vacation Center continues to hold a special place in the Hendrickson family history.

What brings you back to the UCSB Family Vacation Center this summer?

For us, as grandma and grandpa, we just want to be in the same place with our whole family. Our kids are all married and living over the country now. A big part of every summer is so everybody can be together. We have worked hard to get the kids and grandkids all together in the same place and same time every summer -- it gets difficult to coordinate all the work schedules! These days, it’s our kids that make it happen and who plan the year in advance.

We’re always looking forward to our time at the Family Vacation Center. It left such wonderful memories with our kids when they were growing up. They all have these great memories of coming back to the Family Vacation Center -- they always asked to go back when they were kids. So we made it possible. And now with the grandkids, we’re excited to share all the great activities their parents enjoyed. And this is often the time we get our family picture – every time we are at the Family Vacation Center. My wife checks with the FVC staff to figure the best day to do it.

What Family Vacation Center activities are you all looking forward to enjoying this year?

There’s something for everyone. When the kids were young, we signed for lessons with “Big Bird” Greg Patton, the tennis coach. He ran the tennis camp and was quite a strong, wonderful, fun personality. My wife and I took the tennis lessons and did the tennis tournaments.

These days, the mothers – my daughter and daughters-in-law – they want to sit by the pool while the kids play. With some of the activities like the picnic and the campfire, the parents can drop off the children and know that the kids will have a wonderful time. They come back with these stories and all the things they made. They come back with these little hats and race cars – and great memories.

And the FVC counsellors and staff are just superb. Every time we are there, we wonder how they find these people who are so dedicated. The counsellors who work at the camp are just so upbeat and positive.

Diane White-Clayton performing.
Back row: Bret Hendrickson, Me, Justin Hendrickson, Tim McIntosh
Front row: Meghan Hendrickson, Linda Hendrickson, Catherine Hendrickson. Alexis Hendrickson,
Elenore Hendrickson, Nat Hendrickson, Regan Hendrickson and Paula McIntosh
(Photo courtesy of the Family Vacation Center)

Why is UCSB so special to you and your family?

For Linda and I to go back on campus – even though it is different in summer – it is such a special place for us. It’s so much fun for us to walk around and remember our days there. It’s so full of memories.

In so many ways, UCSB shaped my life. I met my wife there – and we have had a happy, wonderful marriage for 47 years. Our oldest son Justin went to UCSB. He had the option to go to others schools, but he loved this school. He spent many summers at the Family Vacation Center and experienced the campus as a child -- I think that’s one of the reasons he picked UCSB!

Linda and I often go back and wander around Isla Vista, to see how everything has changed. Isla Vista is where my wife and I met. I was living in the House of Lords at the time – the building is still there in Isla Vista, but it’s now a retirement home. It was an off-campus university dorm. At that point in time, there were girls’ dorms and boys’ dorms – the world has changed a lot since then!

So there was also a girls’ off-campus dorm (Somerset) near the House of Lords, in the cul-de-sac across the street. All the students ate in the same dining commons. I came to UCSB on a swimming and water polo grant-in-aide, so I was always coming very late to dinner because of practice. I met my wife’s roommates one time in the dining commons – they sat with us several times. Linda and I met there in the dining commons – and we dated all the way through college. We will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our meeting at the end of year.

I graduated from UCSB, she did not – though I still think of her as an alumna. After I graduated, we got married that summer and I went on to grad school. She put her degree on hold. She got her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington and her master’s degree from Seattle University. She went back when our youngest was in middle school.

Santa Barbara itself is just such a special place. If I could have pursued a career there, I would’ve stayed. You have to go where the opportunities are – and I have had a lucky career.

Have you kept in touch with your fellow student athletes over the years? And have any of your kids inherited your talent?

When I was at UCSB, our swimming team won the national championships. In 2008, they inducted our entire team and our coach into the Athletics Hall of Fame. It was just a remarkable experience. We all stayed in the same motel in Goleta. The University had a lot of events for us, but the best part was sitting around the pool, sharing life stories and catching up. It had been just so many years. It was like no time passed – we just looked older. At the Hall of Fame, it was amazing to see the grandkids look around, to see and meet the team.

All my kids were great athletes. One was a baseball player and two of them played golf competitively. My daughter was a great soccer player. Then, after several years, she went into cheerleading – which is a great sport as well!

What inspires you during this next phase in your life?

What inspires me right now is my family and being able to help others. When I was working, I had my hands full. I went into hospital leadership when I left Santa Barbara. I became a physical therapist and worked a few years for a for-profit hospital as a chief of the physical therapy department. The company had a tuition reimbursement program and asked me to go get my masters degree. So I did – and then I worked as the CEO of medical centers up here in Washington, in Arizona and California. I had a 47-year career in hospitals – before I just retired two years ago.

I’m still figuring out what the next phase will be for me. Both my wife and I signed up to become certified as executive coaching professionals. This is what I loved doing in my career, coaching and mentoring people. My wife retired seven years ago and is involved with nonprofit organizations. Both of us feel that we use our experiences to help big corporations to build and manage teams. I want to help people see their potential and reach their potential. When I find opportunities to build others, I want to do my best, with my skills, to make things better.

How important is it for alumni to stay connected with current students at UC Santa Barbara?

This year, we are going to host a student welcome for the incoming UCSB students from the Seattle area. I am really looking forward to that. It’s fun to see students at that stage, to make contact with their parents.

We all know too well the feeling of sending your child on that plane ride, onto that next phase in their life. It’s exciting, it’s a dream come true – but it’s hard to see them leave. We love serving as a resource to families. I met my best friends at UCSB. I had a remarkable time and got a great education. I love sharing about how lucky I was to be at UCSB. There’s really no place like UC Santa Barbara.

Meet Craig and Linda Hendrickson at the Seattle Welcome Reception for new UC Santa Barbara students and families on Saturday, August 6, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at 232 13th Avenue in Kirkland, Washington.


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