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Encourage staff and managers to take their vacation time. Even a day or two of vacation can make a huge difference in employee motivation. Now is the best time to plan the summer schedule and ensure that your employees are taking those earned and deserved vacation days and Texas .

USA Today published that some 51% of executives surveyed by Accountemps, Menlo Park, Calif., a specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance, and bookkeeping professionals, maintain they are more productive after a vacation than before.

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Now there is more proof that vacations increase employee productivity and even improve overall health, as the Travel Industry Association released its conclusions from studies of data that looked at the health benefits of vacation travel.

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Idea #1: Family activities for water lovers.

Broken Bow Lake has over 14,000 acres of pristine deep water. The water is incredibly clear and cool because its 180 miles of shore is lined with the forest covered Kiamichi Mountains. Nature in its most unspoiled state is found along the Glover River, Oklahoma's only untamed waterway (which means there are no dams blocking its course). Because Glover is secluded, its calm waters are ideal for floating on a raft. Beavers Bend has paddle boats and bumper boats. Rent a canoe and take a long lazy cruise together. Take turns paddling, then stop and drift for awhile, taking in the scenery - that includes Eagles flying overhead. Canoes seat two adults and two small children. Older kids will love kayaking, rafting or zooming around the lake on jet skis.

Idea #2: Create your own family posse on horseback.

Southeastern Oklahoma is home to over 535,000 acres of land available for horseback riding. The Ouachita National Forest and the Three Rivers Wildlife Management areas are prime areas for exploration as a family. Horses can travel on the forest floor. The Beavers Bend Depot is perfect for beginners and children where a 2.5 mile ride allows riders to catch a glimpse of deer and various types of wildlife. For more experienced riders, the back roads of McCurtain County offer endless riding adventures.

Idea #3: Play a game of family golf in a pine-laden wilderness.

The course has a pro shop, resident pro, cart and club rentals. Fairways cascade through stands of pine, oak, and hickory and past deer, fox, and wild turkey. More than one hole offers a fine view of Broken Bow Lake and the occasional glimpse of bald eagles.

Idea #4: Take a stroll together in a nearby small town

Head to nearby Broken Bow, OK to walk around and do some window-shopping. Grab hamburgers at Stephen's Gap. Catch an old timey radio show live on Broadway Street. Watch chainsaw sculpting at Hochatown Junction Station. Culture and history are plentiful in Broken Bow with three museums each with its own unique subject to offer a rewarding learning experience. The Gardner Mansion and Museum has a collection of pre-historic and historic Indian and pioneer artifacts. Located outside the museum are the remains of a 2,000 year-old Cypress tree.

Spending quality time together as a family can solidify and strengthen family ties, particularly when activities involve water sports, the great outdoors and splendor of nature as that can be found in McCurtain County.

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It is almost that time again: time to reflect on the old year and bring in the new. What is your New Year's Resolution?

If you are making a New Year's Resolution, you are not alone. Millions of Americans make a New Year's Resolution. While popular goals are weight loss or to stop smoking, there may be one goal you haven't thought of before. Giving to charity—whether it’s money, donations, or your time—is a great way to kick off the new year. Besides helping others in need, giving to charity has several positives for the giver.

Even if life is going great, giving can be a challenge. Money and resources can always be spent elsewhere and finding the time to volunteer can be tricky. Despite these challenges, giving can reap personal and even financial benefits that outweigh the sacrifice.

Here are the biggest benefits of giving back this new year:

1. Make Your Brain Happy

Science may not seem to have much in common with the matters of the heart, so you might be surprised at this first benefit. Donating can activate the reward areas of your brain. A study from the University of Oregon showed that charitable actions trigger a similar reaction to drugs or other pleasurable stimuli, releasing happy chemicals including dopamine and endorphins. Another research study from the National Institutes of Health looked at participants who decided to donate a portion of $100. The people who did donate experienced a similarly positive reaction in their brains.

Instead of splurging on a new dress or pair of jeans, make a New Year's Resolution to donate to charity and enjoy the good vibes.

2. Help Others Who Need it Most

In a perfect world, there’s always a good time to give. But real life is different. There’s always a friend's birthday or big vacation to save up for. But while you are making your big plans for the new year, there will always be someone out there who could use your help.

Giving back doesn't always have to mean monetary donations. Volunteering your time and your talents can be an incredible gift as well. Do you have a knack for arts and crafts? Make a resolution to work with the kids in the neighborhood to build simple art products. Are you a musician? Visit your nearest nursing home and perform a mini-show for the residents.

There are times where it’s tricky to donate time or money. If you own a good amount of extra clothing or toys, you can donate these to your local thrift store or organization. These items are especially useful during a natural disaster when families have lost everything and need the basics to get back on their feet.

3. Be a Role Model for Friends and Family

If your New Year's Resolution is to connect better with your children, consider donating to charity. Seeing you give will set a solid example for children - think of others and help those in need. You can also encourage your children to give a portion of their allowance or go through their old toys to see what they can give away. It’s important to let your children decide on what to give so they don't feel like it’s another chore.

Tell your family and friends about your resolution to give more this year. Letting them know will help make you accountable throughout the year as well as motivate them to donate.

When you do give, make it personal. Do research and find causes important to you. Don't feel limited to giving money: your time and old items can be equally helpful to those in need.  


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