Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Classic Spruce Shot

We found this picture in the depths of the archives. What a great picture! We figured we should put out an APB to find out who these folks are. Any ideas?

Email Josh at jnease@mountain.org

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spruce's Favorite Quotes

Every time we have a course up at Spruce, the staff get a schedule that has all the important logistical information that they may need for the course. It has their schedule, group details, etc. It also has some of Dave Martin's favorite quotes that he has come across over the years. I wanted to share some of those with you.

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."

George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Epistle Dedicatory
Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 - 1950)

"The oldest, most widespread stories in the world are adventure stories about human heroes who venture into myth-countries at the risk of their lives and bring back tales of the world beyond [people]…It could be argued…that the narrative art itself arose from the need to tell an adventure, that [a person] risking [their] life in perilous encounters constitutes the original definition of what is worth talking about."

Paul Zweig
The Adventurer

"Granted that one must live, one should never cease to ask the question: live how, by what means, and for what purpose? If the means or the objectives of life are sordid and base, life is not worth living nor can one maintain self respect. Knowledge must be acquired and used with right motives, and applied to speech, action, and the means of livelihood."

Scott Nearing
Making of A Radical


Return me, oh, sun,
to my wild destiny,
rain of the ancient wood,
bring me back to the aroma and the swords
that fall from the sky,
the solitary peace of pasture and rock,
the damp at the river-margins,
the smell of the larch tree,
the wind alive like a heart
beating in the crowded restlessness
of the growing araucaria.

Pablo Neruda
Chilean (1904 -1973)

"But in these plethoric times when there is too much coarse stuff for everybody and the struggle for life takes the form of competitive advertisement and the effort to fill your neighbor’s eye, there is no urgent demand either for personal courage, sound nerves or stark beauty, we find ourselves by accident. Always before these times the bulk of the people did not overeat themselves because they couldn't, whether they wanted to or not, and all but a very few
were kept “fit” by unavoidable exercise and personal danger. Now if only he/ she pitch his/ her standard low enough and keep free from pride, almost anyone can achieve a sort of excess. You can go through contemporary life fudging and evading, indulging and slacking, never really hungry nor frightened nor passionately stirred, your highest moment a mere sentimental orgasm, and your first real contact with primary and elemental necessities the sweat
of your death bed. "

HG Wells

Have quotes? Send them to Nathan at nhayes@mountain.org.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Endorsement From WV Department of Education

The West Virginia Department of Education's (WVDE) Office of Instruction has endorsed The Mountain Institute's educational programming in the content area of science. WVDE sees The Mountain Institute as well as other organizations as solutions to create more "hands-on, minds-on" opportunities for West Virginia students.

From the WVDE website:

"The Office of Instruction is currently providing leadership to the teachers of West Virginia as we actively proceed on the journey to a new vision of instructional design and delivery. Ours is a learning journey during which we decide to take advantage of digital tools for inquiry, collaboration and communication as we connect learners with one another or the world beyond our schools and classrooms. While learning to give up the traditional teacher’s role of being the content expert, we are learning new ways to engage with our students." This is from http://wvde.state.wv.us/instruction/

We are honored to be a part of the WVDE changing vision of education in West Virginia. Thanks!
To support public education in WV, please contact Nathan Hayes (nhayes@mountain.org)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Randolph County Outdoor Education Program

For the last 5 years or so, The Mountain Institute has been involved in the Randolph County Outdoor Education Program (RCOEP). RCOEP was founded by community members in and around the town of Elkins, WV. The beauty of this education program stems from its community involvement.

RCOEP provides fifth grade students in Randolph County Schools with a three-day residency grounded in the county's rich natural environment and cultural heritage. Based on the idea that some of the best teaching and learning experiences grow out of a sense of place, the program draws on the resources of over two dozen agencies and organizations working throughout Randolph County.

The program was designed to increase children's awareness of local habitats, heritage, and environment, and addresses a variety of local issues while exploring different solutions.
Students who participate in the Randolph County Outdoor Education Program explore local waterways, forests, history, culture, and resource management practices. They collect data from their watershed, discuss local issues from diverse viewpoints, and participate in activities that celebrate regional arts, crafts, and music. Throughout the three-day residency, each student will keep a journal of his/her own experiences. Through this exercise, students who participate in the Outdoor Education Program will gain a greater understanding of their local landscape and its vital role in their lives.

During the program the students will:
* Attend sessions that introduces them to local wetlands, streams, public and private forested areas, and farmlands;
* Hear firsthand the music and stories of the surrounding communities, and discuss the connection between human and natural landscape;
* Experience and discuss different approaches to decision making and look at issues from different perspectives;
* Reflect on their values and develop critical thinking skills
* Meet professional from different occupations, who may serve as role models when they choose a career.

If you would to support the Randolph County Outdoor Education Program, please contact Nathan Hayes at nhayes@mountain.org or 304-567-2632.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Kid Pro Quo

The Mountain Institute (TMI) hosts educational programming for students from West Virginia and many other areas of eastern United States. The students are here to to learn about themselves, the natural environment, and their responsibilities as citizens of our planet. Trout Unlimited (TU) works throughout the United States in conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s cold water fisheries and their watersheds. The partnership of the two organizations serves both well and has provided plenty of valuable services and experiences for everyone involved.

In West Virginia, leading TU’s efforts on the Potomac Headwaters Home River Initiative is Gary Berti. Gary is managing a number of headwaters restoration projects throughout the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia, one of these being on Big Run. Within the Big Run watershed is the Spruce Knob Mountain Center and where TMI operates most of its programs.

TMI’s collaboration with TU on tree planting and riparian restoration has created, what Gary likes to call, kid pro quo, a term derived from the latin phrase quid pro quo. In legal usage, quid pro quo indicates that an item or a service has been traded in return for something of value. In TMI and TU usage, kid pro quo indicates that both organizations and all involved students are providing services and gaining something of value. Tree planting in riparian restoration adds a valuable service component to TMI’s existing stream and watershed programming and fits well into the organization’s overall mission. These events provide an excellent opportunity for TU to share their message and plant thousands of trees in their project area. The students are provided with a unique service opportunity, where they can have a real impact on the improvement of the natural world. Many students come away from their TMI program and remember their riparian restoration efforts as a highlight of their week-long experience.

TMI programming has brought students from West Virginia and all over the Mid-Atlantic region to three separate TU restoration sites in Pendleton County. These sites, on Big Run, Black Thorn Creek, and White Thorn Creek are all undergoing riparian zone restoration from deforestation and cattle degradation. TU and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are fencing around these streams to keep cows out of streams and off of stream banks while providing the cattle with alternate water sources and bridge crossings. Keeping cattle out of waterways should reduce erosion, lower the nutrient load to normal levels, and reopen the smaller tributaries of these streams as native brook trout spawning grounds. The planting of trees near the banks will also reduce erosion, while at the same time increasing the shade cover of the stream, and as a result, keeping the water colder and well oxygenated. During the spring of 2008, over 400 students planted approximately 3000 red spruce and 200 balsam fir.

Through this collaborative project, TU, TMI, and hundreds of students are providing a service in the mountains of West Virginia that will benefit local waterways, the native brook trout population, and the millions of people who depend on the state’s freshwater. In return, West Virginia’s streams will begin to heal themselves, continue to provide fresh water, and create a better home for what is perhaps the state’s oldest resident, the brook trout.

Article by Josh Nease(pictured with a nice brown trout)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Trail Crew

This summer, we have completed two weeks of trail maintenance within the Monongahela National Forest. Back in May, Lynn, Prem, Kim, and Beth attended a three day chainsaw training with the Forest Service. Man, it sure is fun!

Almost all of us have been out clearing downed trees, perfecting our “hop and lop” techniques, rolling massive logs down hills, and attacking limbs with axes. Some dazzling lumberjacks and jills have emerged. We’re even talking about entering a contest!

After a hard days work, we’ve been able to swim in clear mountain streams and relax with friends. It’s pretty amazing to get good exercise, swim, hike, and clear trail to help fellow citizens access the amazing resources that surround us.

We are recruiting volunteers to help clear already existing trails between August 18-22 or August 25-29. The Mountain Institute will provide meals, tools, and camping gear for any volunteers. Just meet us there. We could use any assistance, from 1-5 days. If you are interested, or know someone who may be interested in helping, please call Beth B. at (304) 567-2632, or email bboehme@mountain.org

Entry by Beth Boehme

Photo by Shelby Silvernell

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Slow Food Meets Speed Demons

This spring, a few of us decided to put in a garden up here at SKMC. Salivating at the thought of home grown tomatoes, sugar snap peas, winter squash, fresh greens, and more, we began the quest for the perfect garden. A generous friend of a friend allowed us to borrow a tiller, which is always an adventure in our rocky ground. We cut 12-15 foot posts for the fence, dug waist deep pits for the posts, and strung a fence over 8 feet tall, with chicken wire around the bottom to prevent the wee ones from entering. We dared animals to cross our barricade.

After tilling, we added heaps to our rock “garden,” which is truly a sight to see. We planted tomatoes, beans, peas, green and red cabbages, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, swiss chard, winter squash, parsnips, and lettuce. Our little seedlings prevailed, despite challenges of cold weather, a short growing season, and heavy clay soil. We bolstered our fence by closing off any large holes between the wire, and waited patiently.

Success! Cabbages were flourishing, parsnips prevailing, tomatoes coming on by the dozens, squash flowering, and rainbow swiss chard brightening up the garden. Day by day, we became more excited.

Despite our efforts, the local inhabitants were scheming and training for their big entrance and feast. Bunnies were jumping through burning hoops, groundhogs sent spies to document our daily schedules and mealtimes, raccoons were going to climbing gyms to beef up their upper body strength, and chipmunks were having time trials to see who could burrow quickest.

The best of the best emerged, and feasted first upon cabbage and beans…….moving on to other tasty gourmet items. TMI dispatched several fierce hunters, a brushhog, and scary plastic tarps to waive in the wind. The battle ensued, with each side attacking at different times of day. It became serious. We asked our intern Matt to move his tent inside the garden. Snipers we called in.

Despite losing much of our first attempt, we remain excited about the start, and hopeful that staff will continue to pursue small scale food production here at Spruce. Our soil, knowledge, fence, and garden can only improve with time! We continue to learn and grow, and laugh when our furry friends outsmart us.
Entry written by Beth Boehme

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Fun

We've had an amazing 3 weeks of summer camp! There was all kinds of fun, learning, and adventure. Laser tag was a big hit for the Mountain Adventure Camp, and the students of the FLOW Camps loved paddling the "trough" section of the South Branch of the Potomac near Petersburg, WV. They came from all corners of the state... from Spencer to Shepherdstown, from Rowlesburg to Welch.

The students did a lot of journaling, and below are some excerpts they shared with us.

"I am a raindrop, I once lived in a cloud,
The adventures I have been on make me want to scream aloud
I’ve free falled from the sky, I’ve swam in a river
I made the snow that made you shiver
I helped make the hail that ruined your car
I’ve flowed with the ocean which stretches so far
I am a raindrop, I once lived in a cloud."

“Mighty strength within us all, empowered as I feel
Canoeing as the eagles soars, it’s really quite surreal
The water rushed past without a trouble or care
My canoe is going fast, I’m speeding through the summer air
I feel as if I am finally free, independent, but not alone
I do not care what others see, the water here this is my home
Filth does not exist here, in the haven I now call home
The water here is clear, I think as I reapply my coppertone
This place cleaner [than] most I’ve seen and hopefully it will stay that way”

For more information on Summer Adventures and FLOW email Katrina at kweyland@mountain.org.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Then Summer Camper...Now Intern

(Picture: Allison's on the left. She might kill me for putting this picture on the web. It's worth it. ~N)

I first came to The Mountain Institute at age 11, after hearing vague rumors of “a round library full of pillows” from a friend who had come to summer camp here the year before. To my painfully shy and awkward adolescent self, that was just about the closest thing to paradise I could imagine, and I promptly packed off to Youth Ecology camp with absolutely no concept of what I was getting myself into. My first foray into the wonderfully wacky TMI universe was just a week long, but it was more than enough -- I was hooked.

Eight years and four more summer camps after my first visit to TMI, I’m finally back, this time as an intern. The move from serial camper to staff member has been an interesting adjustment. For example, it was difficult at first to see Nathan as a real live boss, as opposed to the counselor that my friends and I once locked out of our dorm room in a spontaneous act of adolescent rebellion. It also took a few days for me to fully realize that I was no longer bound by all the rules that I had grown so accustomed to. I can go into the kitchen without permission! I can eat food out of the refrigerator! I can stay up past 10:00 at night! It’s turned my world upside down, in the best way possible.

I’ve been here almost a month now, and it has been an absolutely amazing experience. Whether I’m cooking or cleaning or roofing or shadowing a school course or digging holes, I always feel like I’m learning something. My time here is already almost half over, something I try not to think about too often because I really, really don’t want to leave. It’s great to be here, and I can’t wait to see what strange and ridiculous adventures will ensue in the coming month...

~Allison Hornbeck, intern

Friday, June 13, 2008

Matt...this is everybody, Everybody...this is Matt.

I have been at The Mountain Institute for almost a week now and can already tell that it is going to be a great summer. Having never come here when I was younger I feel as if I have missed out on so many adventures. Last night a group of us hiked up to Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia to watch the sun set. The view was incredible from atop one of the many boulders that lay in a small field. I am planning on going back in a few days to work some of the climbing routes that occupy those blocks in easily the most beautiful bouldering area in the state.

I am a student of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Multimedia and Technology, which basically means video and promotion work. My minor is in Graphic Design, which is exactly what it sounds like. Internship responsibilities include general care taking of The Mountain Institute as well as specific media related projects. In the works are a newsletter, web site, and possible video documenting the F.L.O.W. Summer Camps.

The amount of animals and their attitude towards people up here is truly surprising. Rabbits are everywhere, Thelma and Louise (the pigs) are always energetic, and the deer will barely acknowledge your existence.
Check out Matt's webpage here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

China Earthquake Relief Initiative

I am sure everyone has heard about the earthquake in China that happened awhile back. The Mountain Institute has several offices throughout China, and the China Program is asking for support to aid in the recovery. The statistics are extraordinary...80,000 people missing or dead, 5-7 million homeless, 14 million affected. The China Program is specifically asking for support to purchase FASTBLOCK machines and train locals to use them.

The FASTBLOCK machine, originally designed by the late Jim Underwood, uses dirt, a little concrete, water, a whole lot of pressure to create rammed earth blocks. These blocks are being used all around the world to build low-cost housing. One of the dorms at the Spruce Knob Mountain Center is made of these rammed-earth blocks.

Click here to learn more about the FASTBLOCK machine and donate to help those in need.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Ever since we applied for a FLOW summer camp grant from the WV Commission for National and Community Service I have been resisting the urges use sayings like "Go with the FLOW" and such. So I'll keep trying not to.

FLOW stands for Future Leaders of Watersheds (pretty snappy if you ask me), and we did receive the grant to offer eligible students to have an adventure with us this summer. We'll canoe, hike, and explore these beautiful mountain landscape while discussing, contemplating, and testing the state's water. Focus is on empowering future leaders to solidify their commitment to healthy water and a healthy world. We're also going to have tons of fun.

The FLOW students are coming to us from organizations all over the state including Friends of Decker's Creek in Monongalia and Preston counties, Piney Creek Watershed Association in Raleigh county, Wastewater Treatment Coalition of McDowell County, the Cacapon Institute in Hampshire County, and the Greenbrier River Watershed Association who works in four counties in the Greenbrier River watershed. We are really excited about these new partnerships, and looking forward to a great summer!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Whew! It has been an exciting season so far. Sorry for neglecting the blog for so long.

We've been all over the place working with all kinds of students. We spent a few weeks in Beverly, WV teaching 5th graders from Randolph County. We took a group of students from the Winston School in New York City on a canoe trip down the Delaware River. The Riverdale School, also from NYC, had us hiking, climbing and rafting in Maryland on and near the Appalachian Trail.

St. Albans School from Washington D.C. participated in our Classic Spruce Course. They have been with us for quite some time. We also had a great week of staff training where we learned about water quality, amphibians, and other fun things. The Winchester Thurston School from Pittsburgh visited us for the first time earlier this week and had a great time. North Elementary from Elkins, WV is hiking to Spruce Knob today, and they look to get a gorgeous view from the top.

Thanks for checking in! I'll work harder not to neglect the blog.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

The Annual Work Weekend is creeping up on us, and my mind wanders to my memory of Jim Underwood. The picture is him in front of the house I currently live in. It is the lightweight concrete building now known as the Caretaker's Cottage. Dave Martin describes Jim's influence so well...

"As we look around the Spruce Knob Mountain Center it seems that there is hardly an item or a place that doesn’t bear his fingerprints, either literally or figuratively. In so many ways this place remains the manifestation of Jim’s work. Some of us worked directly with him, building yurts, patching things together, doing more with less. But while we think of Jim building things with his hands (and he was constantly building beautiful things with his hands) his real art was in inspiring others. That may have been by the loan of some tool, but it was as likely through the loan of a book, or some piece of advice or wisdom he had picked up along the way. Above all he was a thinker, a believer in the dignity of work, and the ability of a small group of people to accomplish the impossible; to quite literally transform the world."

Jim passed away 2 winters ago. His spirit still radiates through all parts of the landscape at the Spruce Knob Mountain Center, and his memory is a constant inspiration and guide.

~Nathan Hayes, nhayes@mountain.org

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Spruce Work Weekend

Greetings once again from Spruce Knob! I am writing to let you know about this year’s Volunteer Work Weekend. The dates are June 6-8th. We would love to have you on that Saturday or for the whole weekend if you’re able. There will be all manner of unique tasks lined up and it will be a good time all the way around. The original thought was that this would be the best time to perform the Ulan Bator Re-roofing. That was before we were fortunate enough to secure a crew from the National Civilian Community Corps to do the work! With luck the finished product will be the first thing you see coming over the hill, and we’ll be left with the time to tackle a few other very necessary items. Among them are a bridge to Dave and Ruth Ann’s, a new chimney for Almati, flower boxes out front, and possibly even a new yurt.

You can come as early as you’d like on Friday. Meals will be provided beginning Friday night through Sunday lunch. If you are coming Friday we’ll have a potluck that night, so feel free to contribute something to that, and also any snacks to help carry us through the weekend. There will be plenty of room in the dorms, and of course camping is always an option if you like to have more space or privacy. So come up, enjoy the satisfaction of a job (possibly more than one) well done. If possible, call or write let me know you’re coming. This will help us plan for food. I can supply directions if you need them. Finally, bring your tools, creative energy, new jokes, old jokes, stories and musical instruments. I’m putting my intentions out there for good weather and hope you will do the same. I look forward to hear from you soon.
All the best,

Chris Royer, Caretaker
The Mountain Institute, Spruce Knob

Friday, April 4, 2008

Chris the Caretaker's Cross-Country Quest & Work Weekend

Greetings all! Chris Royer here, recently returned from my winter travels for another year at Spruce. I ran a retreat up at the Yurts in January which went well – we got a great deal of rest, enjoyed the challenges of simple living in the cold and found what we came for in the way of meditation, exercise, and good company. At the end however, there was still a long time before spring and the road was calling. I hit New Jersey for a Tracker School class, stopped by Ohio to visit family, and continued swiftly out to Oregon for a gathering there, seeing the oceans on both coasts in a week, which was something. From there I ran up the coast seeing some old friends and TMI co-workers, ending with a week camping on Vancouver Island. After that it was back east and down to see the folks wintering in Driggs, Idaho, back to the Midwest via Colorado, and up into Canada again before heading home to WV. I’d never had an adventure quite like it, the cross-country drive, and enjoyed a lot of other firsts along the way.

It’s been busy here since I got back, getting everything ready for our first visitors of the season, and other staff are starting to arrive. I’ll be trying on the Caretaker hat this year, fixing things and generally looking to improve the place and how we work with it. This will involve such satisfying things as getting the freezer to close properly, installing stairs to the Waterfront yurt, and discovering our true storage capacity with a deep clean of some long-neglected corners of the Library and Shower Shack. There are also bigger projects in the works, like re-roofing the big yurt, Ulan Bator. A new Bubble is part of the deal as well, in case you were worried. This seems like the appropriate place to add a plug for our Volunteer Work Weekend - June 6-8, if you’re at all interested. Email me at croyer@mountain.org for all the details!

In short, the year is off to a good start. I’m looking forward to seeing new and old faces and making it out to Dolly Sods for a good long hike at some point. With luck we’ll see you up here. Till then,

Go in balance,

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Augusta Heritage Center

We at the Appalachia Program are excited about offering a new program for the kids of participants in the Augusta Heritage Center programs in Elkins, WV. The students will have the opportunity to explore Randolph County's rich cultural and environmental resources during the day, and spend the evening with their parents listening to and playing music at the many jams and concerts.

More info on the Augusta Heritage Center...

Augusta was the historic name of West Virginia in its period of earliest settlement. In 1973, "Augusta Heritage Arts Workshops" was the name given to a summer program that was set up to help preserve the Appalachian heritage and traditions. In 1981, Davis & Elkins College became the sponsor of the program, renamed Augusta Heritage Center. In the 26 years since then, it has flourished and grown. Augusta Heritage Center is a non-profit organization known nationally and internationally for its activities relating to traditional folklife and folk arts of many regions and cultures.

Augusta Heritage Center is best known for intensive week-long workshops that attract several hundred participants annually. Thousands more attend our public concerts, dances, and festivals. Augusta’s full-time staff, plus volunteers, seasonal staff, and work-study students, produce a great variety of quality workshops. These world-renowned workshops and festivals have brought together master artists, musicians, dancers, craftspeople, and enthusiasts of all ages.

Please check out their program offerings at http://www.augustaheritage.com/.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

How Do from The Mountain Institute!

It feels great to finally be apart of the team. I first came up hear four years ago as part of a Davis and Elkins College freshmen experience program called Woods. It was a lot of fun and made an impression on me. It’s a little fuzzy looking back at it now, but what I remember were some crazy looking buildings up on a mountain somewhere and people living a working in the woods. I have a little bit better understanding of where TMI is now and what were up here doing. “It’s good stuff,” so says Dave.

I came up last week, still early in the season, and have been enjoying myself thoroughly, working hard, playing hard and getting dirty all the time. Paradise doesn’t just happen, it takes a lot of work…and that’s what we’re doing. Organizing, cleaning, stacking wood, hauling “resources”, and restoring our transit system aka Woodlands Way. Plenty to keep an eager intern busy (in fact I’m sore all over). After five o’clock it’s another story all together. I’ve been every excited to be in such close proximity to the North Fork Valley. A few days ago I was down at Judy Gap, up on the fins checking out the sweet air up there. Just yesterday I was out on the boulder field atop Spruce running around like mad, ‘oh at this one” and “well maybe if I try it like this”. I’ll have to take a lesson from Dave sometime soon.

There aren’t too many people up on the mountain in March, but its certainly not quiet. Winds whipping around, rain storms, snow, sunshine, fog, mist, sleet and that’s before noon; if she came in like a lamb she’s going out like a lion for sure! Very happy to be here and looking forward to a great session.

Entry by Patrick Dunnagan, intern

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wilderness First Aid Class

We are offering a Wilderness First Aid/ Wilderness First Responder Recert course up at the Spruce Knob Mountain Center April 19-20, 2008. The class will be taught by SOLO, and the cost of the course is $240. That includes food, lodging, and instruction. If you are interested or have any questions, call us at 1-800-874-3050.

Hope to see you up on the mountain!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Those Who Become Legend

Whoa! Look at this crew. There are many folks who spend time at Spruce who become a part of Spruce legend. Here are a bunch of those folks. This picture looks like it is taken this time of year in mid-nineties. It was a time when all we ran were courses in the spring. There were no summer camps or fall courses.

If anyone is in touch with any of these folks, you should send the link their way. If you have anything you'd like to share, send it my way. Email is nhayes@mountain.org.

Pictured... Standing (left to right) is Ben McKean, Marcie Demmy, Carl Bolyard, Dave Martin, Ruth Ann Colby, Carrie Hawkins, Natalie Boyland, and Rex Linville. Kneeling (left to right) is Kent Richards, an unidentified dog, Katie Donaghy, Stacy Kay, Dave Clark, Jason Espie, and Jim Underwood.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Our Mission, Our Muse

It seems like a good idea from time to time to revisit our mission, ask ourselves the important questions, and review for others. What are we doing here? So here are my ideas.

It's the mission of Mountain Learning Programs to help people become powerful, secure, knowledgeable individuals with a clear vision of their responsibilities and potential for improving the human condition and the natural world.

This mission statement has been passed down throughout the years. The earliest printed version I've found is on an old Woodlands Institute "Resource for Schools" catalog circa 1982. Those were the days when we offered a program called "Sheep to Shirt." My favorite part of the mission statement is the first 10 words. I enjoy the idea of helping people where they need it, and achieving our mission in different ways. It is also the idea of helping people become better people. It could be engaging a group of 5th graders out of the classroom identifying trees and igniting a connection with nature, or it might be roughing it with a group of middle school students in the woods for a week of nasty weather learning what it means to help each other overcome challenges.

Although it isn't said in the above mission statement, it is clear that another idea that has been woven into the Spruce Knob Mountain Center fabric is community. It is the notion of creating a community that we care to live in where we work hard, share, help each other out, and play together. In a perfect world, I would like to see our students and participants walk away with a passion for improving communities wherever they may be, and becoming stewards and champions of all wild places.

If anyone has any other ideas, email me at nhayes@mountain.org.

Thanks to Jim Clark for letting us use his amazing photos!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fragments from the Spruce Archives

While searching for some maps in the depths of our Earth Shelter office, I came across some remnants(what the mice didn't get) of other generations of dedicated Spruce Knob Mountain Center employees.

This is whats left from a clipping from the Daily News-Record dated Monday, January 11, 1982. The picture shows Michael Meador, then co-director of technology, walking up the hill from base camp, which is the farmhouse where Dave, Ruth Ann, and Annie Martin currently reside. It's really amazing how clear those hill sides where then. They are now more or less covered with forest.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mountain Adventures Summer Camp

The Mountain Adventure Summer Camps are scheduled, priced and ready to go. In years past, we offered different camps each week. Now, we are offering 3 weeks of camps all with a smorgasboard of our traditional activities. We'll do some of the same activities we've done in the past, and as usual have a fantastic time. Hope to see you up on the mountain!


Week 1: June 22-29, 2008
Week 2: June 29-July 6, 2008
Week 3: July 6-13, 2008

For more information check out http://www.tmisummercamp.org/.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Who wants a sticker?

I was recently chided for not posting anything on the blog. That made me wonder if people actually read the blog. I think a few do. So this is my experiment.

Anybody want a sticker?

It's a nice sticker of the picture in the top left corner of the screen (the sunset and spruce tree). I must say that it isn't a proper bumpersticker or a scratch and sniff, but, boy oh boy does it stick. You can stick these things all over the place like on water bottles, refrigerators, lunch boxes, dash boards, notebooks, journals, etc. I don't advocate sticking them to stop signs, dogs, or other peoples' dashboards.

If you want a sticker or two or have a comment about my riveting blog entries email me at nhayes@mountain.org.