Thursday, July 9, 2009


I had never experienced solitude until the summer of 2005, when I was the only full time instructor at SKMC. For most of the summer, it was me and the rabbits. Morning would turn to evening and the sun would begin to set. I began retiring to bed early, to avoid face to face meetings with the coyotes that I would occasionally hear after dark or an encounter with the bear in my mind, hiding behind every tree. My days were filled with long hikes and fishing trips or old lawn mowers and shoveling gravel. These quiet weeks were interrupted every so often with a small summer camp. Ah, the good ol’ days.

A quiet, relaxing summer season on Spruce Knob is a thing of the past. This summer, we have eight full time instructors, a few interns, and a whole lot of programming. During our 12 week summer season, nearly all of our weeks and weekends are full of activities. Here are some examples of what’s been going on up here since the second week of June what we’ll be doing until our fall season kicks off:

Volunteer Work Weekend, three 4H Programs in two counties, a weeklong program with the Friends of Deckers Creek Youth Advisory Board, The Mountain Institute’s International Mangers Meeting and Board Meeting, Trail Crew, two Mountain Adventures Summer Camps, a weekend with WV HSTA Senior Students, Sacred Mountain Midwifery School, Star Gazing on new moon weekends, teacher conferences, 2 more summer camps, weeks of facility rentals, an early August school course, two Professional Development Workshops for teachers, and a Wilderness First Responder Course.

The changes over the last five years have been dramatic. Our summer season is no longer a summer vacation. Programs are beginning in late March and running until Thanksgiving and our busiest seasons employ 18 instructors plus four full-time staff members, and a few VISTAs. Five years ago I would have had plenty of time for blogging daily, now the best I can do is every two months.

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