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

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

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