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Mountain Matters
2015  Spring Board Update 
& News From The Mountain 
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In This Issue

2015 Mountain Program Calendar 

April 13-19
Southern Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association

April 27-May 1
May 18-22
June 1-4
May 13-17

May 22-25
May 25-29
June 29-July 5
July 5-10
Liberal Religious
Educators Association

July 22-26
July 26-August 2
Family Camp

August 22-29
SUULE- Southern Unitarian Universalist
Leadership Experience

October 4-9

October 14-18

November 9-12
Southern Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association

November 24-29
Thanksgiving 2015

2015 MountainCamp Schedule

Beginning Camp (6-8) 
June 21-June 27 

Elementary I (9-11) 
June 14-June 20 

Elementary II (9-11) 
June 14-June 27 

Intermediate I (11-13) 
June 28-July 4 

Intermediate II (11-13) 
June 28-July 11 

Sr. High I (14-17) 
July 12-18 

Sr. High II (14-17) 
July 12-25

Explorers (12-14)
July 12-25

Outdoor Skills & Adventure (14-17)
June 28-July 11

 Spring Greetings

from Executive Director Ted Wisniewski 


What a beautiful time to be at The Mountain! Last year a guest asked if I felt that I was doing holy work; the question struck me and has stayed in my mind ever since. Recent events have helped me to answer the question "Yes."The Mountain IS a sanctuary. It's emotionally warm, welcoming, spiritual, healing, scared, and safe. Characteristics we search for in our church community. The Mountain is the only place I know where we can feel intellectually and spiritually free. We have discussions without judgment, values without pretense, and diversity without prejudice. We are guided to make a difference through compassion and love.


People openly embrace the magic of The Mountain. They absorb the natural beauty and are stimulated by the programs. These are powerful influences that can last generations. Hence the challenge, to provide high quality diverse programs that educate and stimulate while meeting our economic realities. A tight rope for sure, but one that I believe we have realized.  

Through the help of dedicated volunteers serving as program coordinators and presenters, Mountain programs are as strong as ever.  


2015's Youth Cons and MountainCamp, focused on Unitarian Universalist value-centric workshops, are balanced with traditional summer camp activities.  


Our adult and family offerings include: Health and Wellness, Appalachian Spring, Fun & Adventure, Family Camp, Home-coming, Mountain Hiking, Thanksgiving and our flagship program SUUFI.  


The Mountain programs aim to fill you spiritually, and intellectually wrap ALL in a bundle of fun and community.


Our 2015 programs are too good to be missed. Join us, Join the movement, and Join us at the Mountain!


More Spring Greetings

Megan Quattlebaum, Programs Director


Happy Spring! As the weather warms, we're getting busy here at The Mountain with great programs you'll not want to miss. This weekend we are celebrating spring with our first annual Easter in the Oaks, a fun-filled family program. This year, Easter coincides with our Annual Mountain Work Weekend and we have 30 plus volunteers helping us get The Mountain ready for the season.  

On April 10-12, we'll be wrapping up our spring Youth CONfrences with the senior high group (ages 15-18). During spring Youth CONs (ages 8-11 and 12-14), UU youth learned about all things conservation- from wild edibles on the Many Hands Peace Farm to food justice in the Dining Hall, and even explored carbon footprints and resource management. The kids had a wonderful time!


Adults of all ages, we are  looking forward to three

Mountain Hiking Retreats (4/27-30, 5/18-21, 6/1-4) 

lead by the great Barry White. Hiking groups will explore the diverse magic of our Highlands Plateau including: interpretive hikes, waterfalls, majestic views and relaxing nights to recover.
And, we're just getting warmed-up with May right around the corner! We have an amazing schedule set for Annual Homecoming and Members Meeting  over Memorial Day weekend. This creative and interesting weekend includes: wellness and stained glass workshops, special speakers and MORE. In late May, our acclaimed  
Appalachian Spring ( 5/25-29) features music, art, fascinating workshops and activities native to our Appalachian Mountains.

Of course, don't forget


Our staff is hired with talented and exciting counselors! Camps are filling up fast! If you haven't already registered your camper, please reserve your bunk soon. The summer of 2015 will be filled with big trips, awesome workshops, and exciting evening programs. Please "Like" MountainCamp on Facebook to meet our staff and get updates on what's going on this summer.

If you're looking for a BIG adventure, join Fun and 
Adventure Week (6/29-7/5)  for trips down the Nantahala River, rock climbing at Monkey Face, and zip lining over the tree tops. Fun and Adventure  is a high adventure family camp that is sure to get your blood pumping.

Also in July, our

Health and Wellness Retreat returns featuring yoga instructor, Cathy Woods and her delightful team. A wonderful adult healing get-away to relax, rejoice and rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. This retreat will feature yoga, meditation, wellness workshops, nutritional whole foods, and company with like-minded friends. Cathy has also planned for live music, personal massages, and a wellness doctor available for you. 


Our summer will end with the very big, very fun  
Intergenerational Family Camp 7/26-8/2.
This year, you'll enjoy more workshops and bigger trips lead by our world famous MountainCamp counselors. Come and be a kid again spending a week at camp together.

As you can see, we have something for everyone! We are very excited about this year and all our diverse and quality programs. We hope to see you here for one, two, or maybe all of them!




April 2015  

Board of Trustees


(Meeting postponed from February to March due to snow storm)


A regular meeting of The Mountain Board of Trustees was held March 7, 2015. Ted Wisniewski presented the 2014 end-of-year financial report. Progress was reported on annual goals, which were designed to: increase the number of returned guest evaluations to improve services, increase the offerings and attendance at Mountain programs, and increase visibility in the community.


The Mountain had outstanding results from the annual campaign and special gifts in 2014. We received donations from 392 donors and 29 organizations, with $263,965 for the Annual Campaign, $373,320 as restricted gifts designated for Mountain Patch, and other special projects (water system, road, and guest housing), and $226 of in-kind donations, $35,062 as debt reduction for total development revenues of $672,573.


Ted reported that the Unitarian Universalist Camp and Conference Centers organization is being revitalized under the leadership of the current directors at Star Island and Unirondack. In collaboration with that organization, The Mountain will be represented at UUA General Assembly in Portland, Oregon this summer.


The Leadership Development Team worked with the Nominations Committee that included Nancy Heath, Gail Spahr, and Terry Balof, to recruit and recommend a slate of nominees for The Mountain Board, 2015-2016.


Linda Sterner, Peter Kandis, and Rev. Sherman Logan are nominated for three-year terms. Appointed trustees will include Chris Breivogel and Mani Subramanian; Jim Becker will be reappointed as Recording Secretary. Notice of the May 23, 2015 Annual Meeting, along with the ballot, will be sent to Mountain Members in April.


An ad hoc Governance Committee has been formed to review the governance structure of the Board. Members include: Colin Kirkman, Peter Kandis, Cathlean Utzig, Dave Hudson, and Marty Beech. They will lead the Board in a decision-making process to determine the best structure of governance for this era. In an effort to advise the Board on models that can best support The Mountain's mission and vision, the Governance Committee has researched and evaluated: alternative governance models to determine board roles and responsibilities, bylaws and legal obligations, and past successes and vulnerabilities. Information has been gathered through research, interviews with 23 stakeholders, and consultation with experts. The Board of Trustees has received a preliminary report of the findings along with the following recommendations:

  • Engage in a visioning process around governance
  • Embrace a governance structure that invites broader participation of the membership
  • Systematize continued engagement of past Trustees and leaders
  • Continue to strengthen the implementation and autonomy of the Nominating Committee
  • Develop strategic partnerships with other UU entities
  • Take steps toward a strategic planning process for The Mountain.

The Planning and Finance Committee conducted the annual performance review of Ted Wisniewski by soliciting input from staff and trustees. A full audit of Mountain finances will be conducted this year.


The third annual Staff Appreciation Gathering was held on Saturday night, February 21, 2015. We all enjoyed a variety of desserts, snacks, and music. Each staff member received a card with individualized quotes from Mountain guests, a key chain, and a cash gift expressing our appreciation. We are grateful for the efforts, diligence, and devotion of all staff keeping The Mountain up and running.


The Mountain Board of Trustees 2014-2015


Board Chair:

Marty Beech


Linda Sterner 


Leadership Development Team

Eunice Benton - Chair

Chris Buice

Chris Breivogel


Institutional Performance Team

Erin Thompson - Chair

Dave Hudson

Kit Hamblen

Kathleen Anderson


Planning and Finance Team

Linda Sterner - Chair

Cathlean Utzig - Financial Advisor

Rob Marcy

Lem Arnold - Corporate Secretary


Institutional Advancement Team

Mani Subramanian-Chair

Jay Kiskel-Endowment Board Representative


Recording Secretary:

Jim Becker 



Ted Wisniewski, Interim Director 





Staff Appreciation

Warm Fuzzy Thank You to Our Trustees


The Lodge's warm fireplace, high ceilings and expansive windows seemed to "announce" that something special was happening.


A gift from our Trustees, the March 7th Staff

Appreciation was a very special evening with staff and Trustees sharing scrumptious desserts, wine and other spirits. And, a warmly spirited evening it was spending social time together in the beautiful Great Room of our Lodge.


Our Trustees not only delighted us with sweets, drinks and together-time. Each staff person was given a beautiful card personalized with a quote in gorgeous calligraphy. Inside each envelope was a "We Appreciate You" key chain and a monetary gift of $50.


The assortment of goodies was definitely delicious, the spirits uplifting, our personally scripted quotes heartfelt, remembrance key chain and money were special takeaways - ALL just perfect. The best part of the gathering was being together, sharing and hanging, getting to know each other outside of our professional responsibilities.


We all felt it - your deep appreciation and gratitude. Thank you for a special evening!


"May Warm Fuzzies Abound!" - Huldah


Mountain Hiking Retreat
Savor Spring in the Blue Ridge
Reserve your Hiking Retreat Date Now!
April 26-May 1
May 17-May 22
June 1-June 3

Five night package:   $455
Three night package: $285
  Package includes:  lodging,  meals, transportation, and social hour.

Celebrate The Mountain's 36th Anniversary
Mountain Homecoming
May 22-25


Family Friendly Program Prices:

           Adult 3 Night Package: $280

           Youth: 7-12:   $96

           Children 11 and younger:  Free



Appalachian Spring, May 25-29. This year's "Elderhostel" type program has new and strong enhancements as we learn and experience Appalachian life from native Cherokee and early settlers perspectives. You'll love it! We'll spend a full day at FoxFire Museum with lectures, site walks, etc. Other days include Southern cooking lessons, music, "pickin' & grinnin," etc.  


Popular concert artists, Bill and Lorrain Haroff, returning to The Mountain after 15+ year hiatus, for workshop and evening fun. Take a Cherokee Trails talk/walk or other hikes. Do traditional dance, Bring friends and family. Flyer and Schedule (click here) and Program Details (click here).


Save $25 by registering by 4/30!

funSave the Date


Fun and Adventure Week: June 29-July 5.
Take a rafting trip on the Chattooga or a "duckie" on the Nantahala Rivers. Kids and Grandparents can enjoy a Great Smokey Mountain Train ride...zip line...hike...or ALL these choices and more. 

Campfire and s'mores, constellation lessons - a glimpse of evening entertainment. Fun for all ages with extra help from YA Charles Sterner, and Barry White who'll add to your hiking fun on new trails and a rock scramble. Flyer  (click here and Schedule (click here). 

Get your $25 Early Registration Discount!

SUUFI 2015 at The Mountain: October 4-9. 

We have a great new program planned again for our 4th Fall Institute! Come enjoy SUUFI's blend of personal growth and fun, inspiration and relaxation, community and space. Our 2015 program will test your mind and experiential skills - we trust you'll learn and leave with new options and commitment. Ahh, come enjoy October color and coolness at our 4200' unique WNC mountain home. Please join others of diverse thinking who want a positive week of "being," learning, and connecting.

Experience our 2015 journey together on SpaceShip SUUFI with 60-80 others and talented navigators: a storyteller versed in UU Buckminister Fuller's constructs of the earth/universe, and a UU minister helping minds and hearts to soar. SUUFI blends hands-on and experiential modes,  prod-
cing fun and renewal with personal growth. 
T he "flavor and fun" of SUUFI 2014 is captured in Remembrances.  The new photo essay retrospective by Rick Hallmark of Largo, FL is attached  (click here) , as are the 2015  Flyer  (click here),  Schedule  (click here), and Program Details  (click here)

Get your $25 Early Registration Discount now!


Mountain Symbols & Signs of Giving


How tall is our Tower? How many leaves on a White Oak tree? Our Oak trees and Tower are emblematic of The Mountain. This year, they are also symbols representing Time, Talent and Treasure, and how that is expressed supporting The Mountain. 


I n past years, our Tower has been used to depict our Annual Campaign progress. During 2015 we'll again use our oldest remaining building, first built in 1902 as a fire tower. The Tower will provide a visual sign of our Annual Campaign progress toward an ambitious goal of $240,000. 
Additionally, our Oak tree will symbolize the percentage of our donors who have given of their Time, Talent or Treasure during 2015. With your support, oak leaves and acorns will fill our symbolic tree with new growth in the ancient oaks as the year progresses toward our goal of 90% giving.


When you see our Tower with the proverbial thermoeter measuring how we're doing reaching our Annual Campaign Goal, you'll also see a White Oak Tree picture measuring the percentage of our donors who have given again in 2015.


This reframe is about appreciating YOU - as well as tracking monetary gifts of Treasure, we are counting Time (volunteerism), and Talent (advocacy) - ALL the many ways of giving.


New Life in the Ancient Oaks - Huldah


Are You a Philanthropist?


Is The Mountain on your 2015 Philanthropy List? Are you thinking, "You talking to me, I'm not a philanthropis t?"


So, you've never thought of yourself as a philanthropist? Do you think all philanthropists are named Melinda Gates, Tom Gill or Warren Buffet? Would you be surprised to learn that Mother Theresa is considered a philanthropist, as well as the over 20 volunteers who are coming to The Mountain Work Weekend on Easter Weekend this year! You don't have to be a millionaire to be considered a philanthropist - to make a difference!


Do you donate your time, money or influence to charitable causes? Do you support organizations who make our Planet a more peaceful and sustainable home? Would you call yourself a helper, someone who supports the welfare of others? If so, then you're a philanthropist!


"Spread the LOVE" - Huldah




 The Mountain Smorgasbord


Now that you know that you are indeed a philanthropist, let me invite you to dine at The Mountain Smorgasbord. Here, you'll find many sustaining courses of Mountain fare.


There is the entree or daily bread and butter - The Annual Campaign or main course we can't do without! There are also many other delectable morsels that you may not have tasted. Volunteering your time and exercising your influence are food groups vitally important to the health of The Mountain. Like organic veggies from the Many Hands Peace Farm, these goodies are packed with vitamins.


Designated Major Gifts are restricted for specific projects - repaving our road, refurbishing a cabin, repurchasing Mountain Patch and taste like a huge piece of Chef Charity's 

chocolate cake - loaded with calories, delicious and thoroughly satisfying.  



  Gifts in Kind

, such as building materials or seeds for the garden, are recipes packed with herbs and spices -like Tofu Scramble!  



  Stock Donations and the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD), two bites at the groaning board, are akin to delicious leftovers that always taste better the next day. 

Then there are the "twofers," Matching Gifts and Corporate Matches as in a second helping of something irresistible. My favorite "twofer" is the Raw Kale Salad! Another "twofer" is to donate while shopping at Amazon and it's FREE.


Finally, there is the gift that keeps on giving a Bequest, Planned Giving, or a donation to the Endowment Fund. If you've always wanted to leave a legacy, this victual is for you. Remembering The Mountain, these gifts are the LOVE (like butter makes everything taste better) that will continue to nourish The Mountain for generations to come.


Speaking less gastronomically, if you received anything tangible in renumeration for your gift, it is not considered a Donation and is not tax-deductible.


"Help Nourish The Mountain in 2015" - Huldah



We Want to Keep You In the Loop




Have you moved? Did you change your phone number or email address?

Keeping track of everyone is a full time job!  However, if you have moved, changed phone numbers, or have a new email address, HELP US OUT by letting us know. If you are unsure what information we currently have for you, call the office today and talk with me.

I can update your contact information, take donations, and set you up as a Sustaining Donor (one who spreads their donation throughout the year). Hope to hear from you soon!


"Stay in Touch" - Alex    




What's Happening 

in The Mountain Kitchen

Meet Chef Charity


March was the month of NEW for our Kitchen and Dining Hall. The last piece of new kitchen equipment was installed. Made possible by a generous anonymous donor, our shiny new stainless kitchen equipment included: a Convection Oven, Reach-In Refrigerator, Steamer, and Steam Table. We reached a new goal of having our very own chicken eggs available at each meal. New veggies and herbs were potted and seeded in the Many Hands Peace Farm greenhouse. I began my quest to hire new kitchen staff. For the first time since I started my employment, our staff had a Team Building Retreat which gave me a new understanding of the spirit and foundation of The Mountain.


Most exciting, we had the pleasure of hosting for 11 days the Ontario, Canada Cycling Association for their first time at The Mountain. These friendly and energetic young people volunteered to help with the production and clean up for each of their meals. Their sense of gratitude, accessibility, responsibility and kindness was contagious and made the staff and guest experience far more rewarding. Team work truly makes the dream work. The month of NEW has given me a new vision for the future of The Mountain's dining experience.


April will be the debut month of many new Mountain Menu items. I will be welcoming some cool new volunteers and staff members as well.




P.S. I've had personal requests for the following recipe of a very simple new Mountain Menu item.


Charity's Pepperoni Blitz (Serves 1- 10)




  • 1 puff pastry sheet          
  • 1 Tablespoon of your favorite herbs
  • 2 cups of pepperoni        
  • 1cup of mozzarella         
  • 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste

Mix by hand, or put tomato paste, herbs, pepperoni and cheese in a food processor until well combined. Put the mixture on the puff pastry sheet in an even layer. Roll it into a long cylinder and slice into half inch circles. Place the circles flat on an oiled or nonstick cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until golden.




Early April on The Mountain


It's early morning on the spring equinox, rhododendron leaves are unfurled reflecting the warmer spring sun. On Little Scaly, bare trees show little evidence of the rosy glow of eastern redbuds seen at lower elevations. However, in a sense of suspended animation, branches are sporting buds, the daffodils are blossoming along Pond Road, and birdsong is announcing the imminent arrival of an awaited guest - spring. Since ancient times, this first day of spring has been celebrated as a time of rebirth and renewal.


Over 240 years ago in 1775, William Bartram came to these mountains looking for flowers. He believed that "the immediate finger of God" was at work in every flower and that "a portion of universal intellect [was] diffused in all life." While few spring flowers have sprouted along the trail to Chinquapin, our most common orchid, Downy Rattlesnake Plantain and the evergreen Spotted Wintergreen/Pippsissewa are seen poking through decomposing fall leaves. The common name Pippsissewa is a Creek Indian word for "juice breaks stone in bladder into small pieces," and refers to their belief that the plant could cure kidney and bladder stones. Another evergreen, the herbaceous perennial Galax, is turning green after exhibiting a striking color change from green to claret red during winter months - stimulated by the increased sunlight through bare winter branches.


And the bears will be emerging from hibernation right about now, many with cubs as an addition to the family pack. These cubs, born during hibernation, will stay with their mothers and hibernate together next winter. Bears have a very positive impact on our environment as they need a variety of habitats to thrive. As a result, bears are a good indicator species of a healthy wildlife habitat. If a habitat supports bears, it will support many other creatures.


This elevation creates an ecosystem that is similar to southern Canada. Over 160 species of birds use the Highlands area regularly for breeding, wintering, or spring and fall migration. A hike to Whiteside Mountain is timely where Peregrine Falcons nest on the steep rock face in springtime. One of our rarest birds, the raven, is frequently sighted - it's throaty-gurgling-croaking caw unmistakable. Unable to identify a strange urgent sound, I was recently drawn outside my cabin by the call of a raven's "Cr-r-ruck."


Listen to the
"Cr-r-ruck" call of the raven - let yourself be drawn outside to savor spring in the Blue Ridge by joining one of our Mountain Hiking
Retreats: April 26-May 1, May  17-May 22,  and June 1-June 3.



"See You On The Trail" - Huldah   










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