In This Issue:
Board of Trustees
Linda Sterner,  Board Chair
Jim Becker,  Recording Secretary
Lem Arnold,  Corporate Secretary 
Rob Marcy,  Financial Advisor 
Kathleen Anderson
Eunice Benton
Chris Breivogel
Rev. Chris Buice 
Kit Hamblen
David Hudson
Peter Kandis
Jay Kiskel
Rev. Sherman Logan Jr.
Mani Subramanian 
Erin Thompson
Cathlean Utzig
Mountain Programs Calendar

April 22 - 24 
Gay Spirit Visions (GSV)

May 11 - 15
UU WomenSpirit

May 22 - 27

May 27 - 29
July 11 - 15
Liberal Religious  Educators Association (LREDA)

July 24 - August 1
October 2 - 7
October 19 - 23

November 14 -17
Southern Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (SEUUMA)

November 22 - 27
2016 MountainCamp Schedule

Beginning Camp (ages 6-8) 
June 19-June 25 

Elementary I (ages 9-11) 
June 12-June 18 

Elementary II (ages 9-11) 
June 12-June 25 

Intermediate I (ages 11-13) 
June 26-July 2

Intermediate II (ages 11-13) 
June 26-July 9

Sr. High I (ages 14-17) 
July 10-16 

Sr. High II (ages 14-17) 
July 10-23

Explorers (ages 12-14)
July 10-23

Outdoor Skills & Adventure (ages 14-17)
June 26-July 9

June 19-July 23

Counselors in Training
June 12-July 23

Scholarships - We Need Your Help

Mountaincamp 2016 is approaching and we are asking for your donations for 2016 MountainCamp scholarships. Last year we raised over $12,000 to help 37 campers experience MountainCamp. This year we would like to be able to assist 45 campers and we can only do that with your generosity. All donations, small and large make a difference. We have currently raised $9,695 of our $15,000 goal for 2016 camp.

Thank you to those who have already contributed. A special thank you to an anonymous donor who contributed $5,000. Your collective generosity will put smiles on faces of children who thought they would never have a camp opportunity.

MountainCamp: A UU Summer Experience!


Why Camp is Great for Children
If you've been to camp, you're not surprised to hear about the benefits of summer camp, but  if you didn't, you may not realize just how good the experience is for children! Here is a list of the most important reasons to send your kids to camp.
At camp, children:
10. Spend their day being physically active
9. Experience success and become more confident
8. Gain resiliency
7. Explore new interests
6. Develop life-long skills
5. Grow more independent
4. Have free time for unstructured play
3. Learn social skills
2. Reconnect with nature
1. Make true friends
See? Camp is great!
A Snapshot of a Typical Day at MountainCamp

There is a lot of energy that goes into a day at MountainCamp.
  • 8:00 - Breakfast
    • Wake up, enjoy your most important meal of the day
  • 9:00 - Cabin Inspection
    • Work with your cabin mates to make your home away from home sparkle!
  • 9:30 - Morning Circle, a MountainCamp Tradition
  • 10:00 - 12:00 Workshops & Trips
    • Choose your workshops. Just a few are Gross Science, Nerd, Spy, Friendship Bracelets, Pottery, Canoeing and Arts & Crafts and more! Each camper chooses one of the Mountain Trips each week, which include hiking, swimming and field trips to local galleries, events and educational services.
  • 12:00 - Lunch
  • 1:15 - Free Activities
    • Choose from field games, lake play, hikes or arts & crafts.
  • 3:30 - Reflection
    • A time to unwind and reflect on your day by listening to calming music,stories or a short session of yoga.
  • 4:00 - 5:00 - Siesta
    • Quiet time in the cabins.  Take that much needed nap, catch up on your reading or write your letters to home.
  • 5:15 - Dinner
    • Choose from our scrumptious selections from the Mountain Kitchen!
  • 6:45 - Evening Programs
    • Always fun, always action packed. Just a few of the programs and games that go on are Casino Night, Fort Building, Story Telling with David Novak, Appalachian Folk Music with Lee Knight, Campfires & Cabin Presents. Also, we can't forget to mention the end of camp dance! Dress up, be silly and have fun!
  • 8:00 - Vespers
    • It's the end of the day and we like to come together as a community. During vespers we plan activities that bring out the best in ourselves and each other.
  • 8:30 - Family Council
    • Get to know your cabin mates deeper with counselor-led activities that allow lifetime bonds to be made with your MountainCamp family.
  • 9:15 - Lights out!

Joe Will Fields
Mountain Summer Volunteer
I first came to The Mountain when I was a little kid. I had been a part of the youth program at the Unitarian Congregation in Tuscaloosa, where I first heard about The Mountain and thought it would be a fun place to spend part of my summer. However, since I was a little kid, my parents were probably just looking for a way to get rid of me for a couple of weeks, but I'd like to think that I made the decision myself. I immediately fell in love with The Mountain and returned the following five summers. 

Recently, I studied Film at the University of Alabama and as I was getting ready to become an "adult" and find a job in the film industry, I had a change of heart and decided I wasn't ready to commit myself to that field of work. Many friends told me some people never really figure out what they want to do with their lives. I thought about my future and reflected on the time that I spent at The Mountain as a kid. I went to The Mountain's website and submitted a volunteer application, just to see what kind of response I would get. I received an almost instant response and they seemed eager for me to join the team. I have been here now for three months and consider the staff here as family. 
Whether it's helping prepare meals in the kitchen, setting up meeting and living spaces for guests, or working in the office, I always have a good day and haven't felt this stress free in a long time. At the University of Alabama I worked with the Media Department and gained a lot of experience with photography and videography. I worked with the camera crew for all athletic events and learned so much from that experience. I hope to be here long enough to be able to use my skills to make The Mountain a better place, so that The Mountain will mean as much to kids who come here as it does for me. 

Reserve Taste Buds for
 Vegan Food
By Sukhin Chawla

Amy Hargis and her partner Robert Malone, Co-Founders and Managers of The Wellness Place in Highlands, NC, 
recently visited The Mountain to share their vegan way of cooking and living. John Paul, kitchen manager, is excited to begin adding more vegan options to the kitchen menu for those who live a vegan lifestyle as well as for those who have various dietary constraints. 

Some of the vegan options Amy and Robert suggested include millet or rye bread, sprouts, brown rice, steamed green vegetables, tempeh, avocado and tofu. In addition to Amy, Robert, and John Paul's efforts to enhance the diversity of the food served by The Mountain, the Many Hands Peace Farm is dedicated to supplying The Mountain kitchen with organic vegetables this spring and summer.

Listed below is a recipe for seasoned tempeh sandwiches provided by our friends Amy and Rob from The Wellness Place.

Seasoned Tempeh
  • ¼ cup Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 8-oz. pkg. tempeh, sliced
Thousand Island Dressing
  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbs. relish
  • 2 Tbs. ketchup
  • 16 slices rye bread
  • 5 oz. vegan Monterey Jack cheese, sliced
  • 2 cups sauerkraut
1. To prepare Seasoned Tempeh: Combine liquid aminos, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and 2 cups water in saucepan over medium heat. Add tempeh slices, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes. Cover, and let tempeh cool in broth.
2. To make Thousand Island dressing: Stir together vegan mayonnaise, relish, and ketchup in small bowl.
3. To make Sandwiches: Toast 8 slices bread. Set aside. Drain tempeh, and discard liquid, onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Place 3 slices tempeh on each slice of remaining bread. Top with cheese slices. Toast or broil 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
4. Top each sandwich with 1/4 cup sauerkraut. Spread toasted bread slices with Thousand Island Dressing. Place tops on sandwiches, and slice in half.

Garden Interns Attend 
Mother Earth News Fair

By Lee Tipton

Mother Earth News Fair came to Asheville NC April 9-10. Many Hands Peace Farm manager Bill Hagemann and garden interns Rin Willocks, Lee Tipton and Sukhin Chawla attended the fair.  The garden interns were given the opportunity to volunteer early Saturday morning to earn their way in to the fair at no cost. 

Mother Earth News is an educational homesteading publication that began in the 1960's. Every year farmers, gardeners, and homesteaders look forward to attending the educational fair that travels around the country throughout spring and summer months. There were more than 150 workshops led by  experts from across the country on organic gardening, food preservation, homesteading, livestock, green building, and natural health. Some of this year's most notable speakers were Joel Salatin and Elliot Coleman. There were more than 200 regional and national exhibitors that feature sustainable products and services.

Each workshop lasts for an hour with 30 minute breaks in between, giving attendees the opportunity to learn about vendors who are dedicated to enhancing the lifestyle of any homesteader, as well as time to sample the delicious food from the local Asheville food trucks. There were also off-stage demos on topics ranging from hands-on seed saving, natural soap making, natural dye making, building mud houses and raising heritage breed livestock. A bookstore was set up in the center of the fair as a meeting place for attendees and experts who offered book signings following their lectures.

Each of the interns and the farm manager attended workshops, then gathered over dinner to discuss what they had learned. The farm staff was accompanied by Alex Willocks,The Mountain's Communications and Development Associate, Donn and Sandi of the UU Fellowship of Franklin, as well as former garden interns Rachel Kinback and Cate Stuart. Each intern was given the opportunity to attend lectures concerning their personal projects as well as interests they plan on investigating following their internship. Lee Tipton, whose personal project concerns organic dyes and pigments, attended a demonstration on how to cultivate natural resources to dye wool. Rin Willocks attended several workshops concerning herbalist studies and the use of medicinal herbs in hopes that she could utilize her new-found knowledge in her personal project - making herbal teas with wild herbs that grow on The Mountain. Sukhin attended workshops on natural soap making and was able to network with various vendors concerning her personal project of growing millets.

Both days were packed with educational opportunities for the farming interns as well as inspirational lectures. One of the most uplifting sessions of Mother Earth News Fair was a lecture given by Lisa Kivirist on her recent publication, Soil Sisters: A Tool Kit for Women Farmers. This was an invaluable resource to our three female interns who are all seeking a future in agriculture and homesteading. The Mother Earth News Fair occurs in Asheville every spring and is an excellent resource to all those who are interested in homesteading of any sort.

Spring Volunteer Work Weekend
March 25-27th

Work Weekend Volunteers Help Enhance the 
Many Hands Peace Farm

By Sukhin Chawla, Farm Intern

Easter weekend, March 25-27, The Mountain welcomed our annual Work Weekend volunteers . The enthusiastic volunteers arrived Friday evening and enjoyed social hour and dinner followed by an old-fashioned campfire, complete with singing and story telling. While there were many volunteers working to enhance all aspects of The Mountain, there were nine volunteers who showed an interest in helping with the farm, greenhouse and fencing projects.

In the morning two volunteers aided garden interns Lee Tipton, Rin Willocks, and Sukhin Chawla with extending the fencing around the perimeter of the chicken pasture. The volunteers proved invaluable in aiding the interns with beginning the first steps to extending the pasture so that the chickens will have more room to graze and will have better protection from unwelcome predators.

In the afternoon, seven volunteers signed up to help the garden interns in the greenhouse and the field. They were divided into two teams. Sukhin lead a group in the greenhouse where volunteers made seed blocks and potted up plants with true leaves into bigger blocks. Rin and Lee led the second group to the field where the volunteers worked tirelessly to weed the hugelkultur beds. The garden interns were able to complete many tasks with the help of all the Work Weekend participants who, in return, learned details of organic gardening, free range chickens and effective fencing strategies. The weekend was filled with learning, laughter, and dedication to improving the Many Hands Peace Farm. Thank you, Volunteers.

April 16, 2016
Important Board Position
Regarding NC HB2

Linda Sterner,
Board Chair
  My message today is not as upbeat and cheerful as I would wish; however, I need to share some very important news with you. While I am saddened at the need for it, I also am extremely proud of our Executive Director, Ted Wisniewski and my fellow Trustees for taking this important step. But first, I must digress.
I recently returned from a month long visit to South Africa. While there, I visited the prison where Nelson Mandela and many other freedom fighters were imprisoned for refusing to follow discriminatory laws established by the South African government during the 1950's and 1960's. 
While pondering recent events in NC and at The Mountain I received an email from Rev. Galen Guengerich, Senior Minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in NYC, with the following quote from the late Mr. Mandela:

" I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended."
I felt that it was timely to share this with you since The Mountain is a special place where many of us have "taken a moment to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds us," and also because our Board of Trustees has just approved a resolution calling for the repeal of recently enacted discriminatory legislation known as NC HB2.  
I will share a few excerpts from our resolution here and you can find the full statement on our website at
"The Board of Trustees of The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center raises its collective voice in unanimous opposition to the enactment of HB2 by the North Carolina legislature and Governor McCrory."
"The Mountain, founded on Unitarian Universalist principles, stands for the fundamental values of justice, equity and compassion in human relations. We embrace diversity and are committed by religious principles to the inherent worth and dignity of every person."
"We are saddened that some in North Carolina's religious community have supported this discriminatory legislation. We implore people of all faiths to open their hearts with love and acceptance to the difficult paths we all travel in life.  We know that by walking hand in hand we make the world a better place."
"On moral and business grounds we demand that the North Carolina legislature and governor reverse this discriminatory and unconstitutional legislation without delay."
Rest assured, my friends, that even while we work with other groups to overturn this egregious law, nothing will change at The Mountain.  We will continue to embrace diversity and are committed to the fundamental values of justice, equity and compassion in human relations.  
Mandela's quote also reminds me that as we "look back on the distance" we have come in the last few years with regard to sustainability of our precious The Mountain, we "dare not linger," for our mission is not completed and our vision has yet to be achieved fully.
Yours in fellowship,
Linda Sterner, MRLC Board of Trustees Chairperson
Board of Trustees 
Board Candidates Report
Eunice Benton

The Nominating Committee of The Mountain Board of Trustees has  completed their search for Board candidates. A big thank you and much appreciation to the Nominating Team, comprised of Rev.Terre Balof, Larry Meisner, Peter Kandis and Eunice Benton.

Meet the Candidates:

Nathalie Bigord  is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett in Lawrenceville, GA, where she has found her spiritual home since moving from New York to Georgia in 2007. She has served on the Board of Trustees, chaired several committees, and has been an active member of the Social Justice Committee and Welcoming Congregation Task Force. She has also served on the district level as a member of the Mid-South District Board, been a small group facilitator at SUULE (Southern UU Leadership Experience), is currently serving on the  Southern Region Elders Development Team,  and with much enthusiasm is looking forward to be being a part of the Mountain Retreat & Learning Center Board of Trustees.
Rev. Julie Kain is a graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry and competed a doctorate of ministry with a focus on racial justice education in 2015. She has been the parish minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pensacola, Florida since 2006. She has been part of the leadership of organizations in the Pensacola area, including the NW Florida PFLAG Chapter, the Faith-Based Poverty Solutions Team and the Interfaith Housing Coalition. Prior to that she served two UU congregations in California and was a member of the Eno River UU congregation in Durham, NC. She has served on the UUA Mid-South District Board. Julie has been on the staff of Leadership School and has participated in workshops and events at The Mountain several times in recent years and  is delighted to join the leadership of The Mountain now! 
Gail Sphar is a long  time leader in the Southern Region of the UUA and its predecessor, the Mid-South District, of which she was a board member and President. Her professional career was in Human Resources and Administration. Today she is a Southern Region Healthy Congregations Consultant and has facilitated board retreats, staff start-ups, organizational structuring sessions and Congregational Presidents Convocations. She has also served as a facilitator for the Southern UU Leadership Experience (SUULE) at The Mountain. Gail and her husband are members of First UU Church of Nashville, TN, where Gail serves as chair of the Leadership Development Committee, is a member of the Committee for the Larger Faith, and a worship associate. Gail served two years as a non-board member of The Mountain's Nominating Committee and has been impressed with the remarkable work that has been done to revitalize and strengthen The Mountain, both physically and organizationally. She is honored to be nominated for a board position and looks forward to serving this exceptional place for Unitarian Universalists.
Meet New Development Director,
 Laurel Amabile

Laurel Amabile
Laurel Amabile is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist originally from Yarmouth, ME. She has most recently been an independent consultant serving Unitarian Universalist organizations and other nonprofits in the realms of stewardship and fund development. 
Laurel began her years of Unitarian Universalist service in 1989 as the Director of Religious Education at the First Universalist Church of Yarmouth, ME, and later as the DRE at the UU Congregation of Asheville, NC. 
Laurel served three districts of the Southern Region between 2004-2006, working with congregations to grow, deepen and develop in all aspects of Unitarian Universalist congregational life and leadership. 

From 2000 to 2004, she was co-employed by The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center and the Southeast District of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), continuing in service to the Southern Region from 2004-2006. From 2006-2013, Laurel worked in the UUA's Stewardship & Development office as the Director of the Annual Program Fund.
Laurel will be relocating to Western NC with her husband Fred Amabile. They are the parents of two grown daughters, Nicole Amabile of Durham, NC and Christine (Amabile) Williams, and new grandparents to Louisa Irene Williams living in California.
For more information about Laurel's professional life: 
Linked In:  (Laurel Amabile, CFRE)
Giving Speaks Twitter:
Giving Speaks Website:

Last Call for "Appalachian Spring"
May 22-27

Phil Sterner
The theme is "ARTS! MUSIC! CRAFTS!" And, of course, hiking and off-site excursions! 
Enhance your skills in storytelling, woodworking, trekking and identification, dancing, quilting mountain music & ballad appreciation and more. Choose your favorites! 

You must sign up by 4/27 to join the fun!  Enroll online or by calling 828-526-5838. Click specific events for program details, schedule and flyers. Multiple day packages available.
  • "SUUSI Hospitality Stayover" at The Mountain. Our "B&B" offers respite as you drive to or collapse after SUUSI in Western Carolina University, one hour from The Mountain, which was an outgrowth of SUUSI 37 years ago. Start a new tradition by adding 1-2 days to your vacation at 4200 feet elevation with 40-mile vistas from Meditation Rock. This camp and conference center was birthed from SUUSI to extend its UU principles, fun and community-building year-round. Favorable rates set to introduce more folks to SUUSI's wonderful "offspring"! 
  • SUUFI 2016 (So. UU Fall Institute), Oct 2-7. Have fun and be inspired! This 5th annual event focuses on "CREATIVE PLAY" as its theme with a broad choice of workshops. Returning friends and newcomers meet in small group settings for big fun! Successful programs to reach your mind, body and soul. Enjoy the colorful fall foliage at no extra cost! Full details on website.
Enroll by calling 828-526-5838 or online. Click specific events for program details and flyers. Multiple day packages  are available.
Appalachian Spring 2016
May 22 - 27
The first European settlers in our Highland Plateau of the Appalachian Mountains brought artful and useful skills including  Toy Making, Woodworking, Gardening and Crafts.  Join us to re-discover your inherited talents and carry home your handiwork for "show and tell".
Improve your ballad singing, storytelling and outdoors skills.
The daily schedule will include many sessions, drop-in, all day, morning, afternoon, etc.  You arrange your week to your interests and desires!
Hiking Daily: Easy or moderate on nearby Cherokee Trails and local excursions.
Evening performances include two concerts, games, dance and storytelling
Sign up at Get $25 discount for early registration.
4, 5 and 6 day packages priced at $370, $465, & $560, respectively.
Coordinators: Phil Sterner and Guerry McConnell.
Renew Your Feeling of Community.
Let Your Soul Surge & Soar!

Homecoming Weekend
May 27 - 30

May 27 - 30

Join u s for The Mountain's Annual Homecoming Weekend. This Memorial Day tradition is an inter-generational 3-night weekend full of fun and family with a little bit of work mixed in. Enjoy hiking, games,  music, a bonfire and more. The Mountain Board of Trustees gathers on thi s special weekend for the Spring Quarterly Board Meeting when the 2015 Annual Report is presented to Trustees and Members  on Saturday   afternoon.
Everyone is invited to a social hour hosted by the Endowment Board following the meeting.

Family Friendly Program Prices:
4 day/3 Night Package
  • Adult: $280
  • Youth 8 - 17: $105
  • Children 0 - 7: FREE!
Commuters Welcome! $50 for 3 meals and programming.
No Cost to attend the Annual Meeting ($15.00 lunch if not paying commuter rate).

 Family Camp and 80's MountainCamp Reunion
July 24 - 31

A Camp for families and friends of all ages to come together to enjoy MountainCamp activities. Grandparents, parents, and children are all welcome!   

Did you work or attend MountainCamp in the 80's? This year we are having an 80's MountainCamp Reunion during the weekend of Family Camp! Register today, spaces fill fast!!
Activities include: workshops, crafts, music, singing, hiking, campfires, storytelling.

Plenty of time for relaxation and reflection and making memories that last a lifetime. 

7-Day Per Person: Adult $526; Youth and Teens (7-17) $245

5-Day Per Person: Adult $376; Youth & Teens (7-17) $175

Weekend Package: Adults $150; Youth & Teens (7-17) $70
Children under 6 years of age-no charge 
SUUFI 2016
October 2-7, 2016

Southern Unitarian Universalist Fall Institute
The Mountain
Highlands, NC

Please keep us fit physically and mentally. Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor. Play energizes us and enlivens eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities." Stuart Brown, MD 

You are invited on a creative quest to better understand how, at this stage of life, we  play.

Come for a colorful autumn week as we explore
Creative Play
in the form of  games, art, conversations, stories and life-styles, all while expanding  your comfort zone in the safe haven of The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center.

"The playing adult steps sideward into another reality . . ."
Erik H Erikson

David Novak, award-winning UU storyteller who started the Disney Institute, is a Key Presenter, weaving his creative skills with ours to "bring out the best in us."  

Mindy Simmons, well-known musician from SUUSI and Florida,   brings her playful approach to music, inspiring us to sing, dance, hoot, and enjoy ourselves and each other.

Other presenters, also accomplished in their creative and exploration skills, will beckon us to break our chains, burst out of our boxes and venture into playfulness!

Typical of SUUFI, the schedule balances Mind and Body. Short morning sessions link to the week-long endeavor in hands-on, thought provoking and heart-felt pursuits. Solitude and sharing characterize this week-long retreat. Community emerges as insights deepen.

"It is a happy talent to know how to play."
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

$25 discount for early registration before August 1
4 Day $375
5 Day $465
6 Day $560
November 23 - 27
Save the Date for Thanksgiving 2016
Make reservations early. It is always a sell-out.

The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center | 828 526 5838 | [email protected] |
3872 Dillard Road
P.O. Box 1299
Highlands, NC 28741