Early Fall 2016 Edition

SUUFI 2016

If You Like Elder Hostel and Road Scholar Events,

Put Some Fun Into Life by registering for the 5th season of
Southern UU Fall Institute (SUUFI) 
October 2nd-7th
6 days/5 nights of midweek fun at The Mountain.

Let's join together in the fun of this year's theme: Creative Play--everyone can play or learn to play!  All abilities welcome!!
Creative Play will be combined with some serious stuff also, like 
Socrates Café®

 There are 35 people already signed up, but there is still space and time for you to be a part of the SUUFI community. 
In This Issue:
Board of Trustees
Linda Sterner,  Board Chair
Rob Marcy,  Financial Advisor 
Peter Kandis
Kathleen Anderson
Kit Hamblen
David Hudson
Peter Kandis
Jay Kiskel
Rev. Sherman Logan Jr.
Gail Sphar
Natalie Bigord
Erin Thompson
Cathlean Utzig
Rev. Julie Kain
Chris Breivogel Recording Secretary

Mountain Programs Calendar
By Alex Willocks

Greetings from The Mountain!

Southern UU Fall Institute:
October 2 - 7  
This year's SUUFI theme is Creative Play.  YOU are invited on a quest to better understand how we Play.

Headliners = David Novak & Mindy Simmons!!!

Autumn colors, small groups, many formats and workshops, such as
Music 4 the Kid in Us
Pumpkin Carving Art
Hike to Glen Falls
Nature Center Exploration
Seasonal Arrangements
Drumming Inspired
Creating Meaningful Worship
Socrates Café®
Strum Fun-Beginning Dulcimer
Playing with Ancestors
Making Walking Stick
Playing in Garden
Plus, Evening Entertainment

Visit  TheMountainRLC.org  to Register and learn more!

UUWomenspirit is an all-woman retreat where we strengthen our talents and renew our energy in a supportive and safe environment, as we explore the Feminine Divine. This fall's theme is Moon Energy: Rhythm, Mystery, Illumination. This year we will explore the six moon phases through meditation, dance, tarot and goddess rituals from several cultures with a goal to provide space for inner connection each day. Find out more at  uuwomenspirit.org

Thanksgiving: November 23 - 27
Save the Date for the 37th Annual Thanksgiving at The Mountain! Why not leave the cooking and cleaning to us while you enjoy friends, family, and fellowship? Create a new tradition and join us this Thanksgiving.

Fall Youth CONferences: 
Save the Date for our Fall Youth CONs!
Elementary - November 18-20
Intermediate - December 2-4
Senior High - December 9-11

T hank you for supporting The Mountain by letting your circle know about our upcoming programs. If I can assist you in any way, please let me know. 

Alex Willocks
Communications and Development
alexandria.willocks@ TheMountainRLC.org

A Look Back at 
MountainCamp 2016
By Megan Quattlebaum
E ach summer ends with such mixed emotions for me. After everyone leaves and things quiet down, I find that I miss the loud noises of campers and singing in the dining hall. I miss having the chance to get away from my desk for a game of capture the flag or to float in the lake with campers. MountainCamp fuels me on the cold winter days when the snow is falling and The Mountain is lonely. 
This 2016 summer was no exception and will be one that warms my heart for year to come.  This was my 3rd summer at MountainCamp and each year I become more familiar with our returning campers. I look forward to seeing how much they have grown, complimenting haircuts (even if it's 8 months old) and socializing with parents at check in.  I get excited for new campers to fold into our community with a warm embrace. With record registrations this year, we had 232 campers over the course of 6 weeks; I can say this summer was a successful one for MountainCamp and a lot more campers for me to remember next year.
With our numbers growing by 10% each year for the past 2 years, we are doing everything we can to continue to offer programming that is relevant, aligns with The Mountain's Vision and Mission and helps ensure that each camper feels successful in our inclusive community.  With our camper numbers growing, so are our programs.

This year, we received over $14,000 in donations for our Campership fund that gave financial assistance to 34 campers to attend MountainCamp.
Thank you to all that made a donation to this fund. We are all so very grateful to you for helping these campers. Next year, we would like to be able to offer the MountainCamp experience to more campers through Camperships. Please consider giving to this fund, as it really does change lives .
We also reintroduced a few new staff positions so that our programming could be stronger than ever. With Arts and Crafts now a staple at the crafts barn, no camper got away without experiencing some sort of craft during field or workshop time. With the addition of a lake coordinator we were able to offer activities at the lake almost every afternoon and lots of water workshops in the mornings. Our cabin counselors were stellar at building their small cabin communities that contributed to our larger camp community and our evening programs were filled with costumes, face paint and lots of laughter.

I can confidently say that we all felt the love, community and success of this summer and as the memories of this past summer make their way into my heart, we have already started planning for the summer season of 2017.

Thank you to all the MountainCamp staff for giving your all.

Thank you to all of our MountainCamp parents for seeing the worth in sending us you beloved children.

Thank you to all of our campers who impressed us every day. You give us great hope for the future.

With much love as always,
We are The Mountain!
Megan Quattlebaum
Program Director
Up & Coming CONs

2016 Youth CONference registration is now open! This season's CONs will celebrate Community Connections: A Youth CONference of Traditions That Bring Communities Together

Join us for cooking, arts and crafts, games and more that give us a taste of traditions around that world.

Talk with your congregation about bringing a group of children or youth to experience the beauty of The Mountain and the energy of a Youth CON.

Visit our website for more information and how to register. www.themountainrlc.org/youth-conference/

Development News
By Laurel Amabile,
Development Director
Gratitude for Gifts Received

As of the end of July, Mountain supporters have donated over $115,000 in sustaining annual gifts, designated funding for specific purposes, and in kind contributions. If you are among these donors-THANK YOU for your generosity and commitment to The Mountain!
In addition to the gifts from individuals and families, we have received contributions from a number of UU congregations and groups, as well as through corporate giving programs such as Bank of America,  Verizon, and Amazon Smile. Our online Faithify UU crowd-funding campaign raised over $5,100 for MountainCamp scholarships and we received a $1,200 grant from the local Mountain Findings thrift store for MountainCamp campership support.
What we know is that EVERY donation of any size matters and is gratefully received. Every gift makes a difference at The Mountain and we work to use all contributions wisely. We still have a way to go to make our annual funding goal of $240,000, so if you haven't yet donated, we hope you will do so soon.

Congregational Giving & Support

The Mountain is fortunate to have the support of Unitarian Universalist congregations around the Southern Region and beyond. Congregations hold their leadership and family retreats here, they send their children and youth to MountainCamp and Youth Cons, and some send work parties to enhance the facilities and grounds. Many of our program participants, campers, volunteers, and donors first learned about The Mountain through their congregational involvement. We appreciate our congregation supporters!
Increasingly, congregations are featuring The Mountain in a Sunday service spread the word about this special place. Each year, we receive contributions from congregations that consider The Mountain a valued part of their extended UU community and want to contribute through their shared offering program or special collection.
If you love The Mountain and you would like your congregation to hold a Mountain Sunday service or special offering, let us know! We can send you orders of service insert templates, donation envelopes, and other information about our programs. 
Monthly Donations Are Awesome!

Many Mountain supporters choose to make their donations on a monthly basis through recurring credit card payments or checks scheduled through their bank's bill pay system. This helps make giving easier for you and enables The Mountain to maintain a steady flow of funding for its mission and operations. You can set up monthly recurring gifts online by clicking the Donate button below.

  For more information about donating to The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center, contact me:  Laurel Amabile

Many Hands Peace Farm  News
We are going to market!

This is the first year the Many Hands Peace Farm has sold products at market. The Highlands Farmer's Market takes place every Saturday from 8 AM to Noon at Kelsey Hutchins Park. This has been a great opportunity for the farm staff and for  The Mountain. Beyond raising some money from sales, it has been a great learning experience for the interns. The market gave us opportunities to interact with the Highlands community to let them know who we are and what we do. In addition to the many and varied products for sale we always bring Mountain brochures and program flyers and offer free gardening advice. 

So far we've been at market 14 weeks. We've made a total of $1,280, with average sales just over $90. Our best week was July 16th when we made $148 in sales. We're looking forward to the rest of the market season and hope to beat our July sales record very soon.

The Mountain Welcomes
Fall Farm Interns

The spring/summer season has come to an end. Lee Tipton Field has returned to Tuscaloosa, Al, and is eagerly awaiting the birth of her first child. Madison Guin is now living in Huntsville, AL, working at a restaurant, and taking college classes. She is living with friends who have an extensive home garden and a sustainable landscaping business. Sukhin Chawla is volunteering at the Mountain in the office and with housekeeping.

The new interns have arrived and are already working hard and learning fast. Find out who they are and why they're here below!

Joey Kyle

I'm Joey Kyle. I grew up near Columbia, SC and was a senior high camper for two summers. I graduated from Southwestern University near Austin, TX. I have worked on a yak ranch in New Mexico, an eco-resort in Costa Rica, and for a hobby permaculture farm in Taiwan. I am passionate about working towards my goal of starting a sustainable farm business and learning as much as I can along the way. My other hobbies include bird-watching, mushroom hunting, lucid dreaming, and making kombucha. I am excited to give my all to the Many Hands Peace Farm and The Mountain community. 

Jess Williams

Hi! My name is Jess and I am originally from Texas. I will be participating in the farm internship until November and then hopefully going back to College in the Spring. I love good beer, kind hearts, and a good book after a long day's work.
Projects Completed 
 and Underway
Russell Hunnewell
Russell Hunnewell,  Facilities Manager
Several high priority maintenance and beautification projects have been completed by our Facilities staff with assistance from  our 2016 Ascenders and several volunteers.
During MountainCamp weeks, the Ascenders finished the building that houses the ne w fiber optic cable. We now have an automated water system!

The wiring has been completed for new landscaping lights along the major paths and roadways at the top. While a flashlight can be a help, our guests will be able to navigate more easily after sunset.
A team of Americorps workers finished the water drainage project along the main road up the mountain. This was essential to preventing road damage from heavy rain and storm washouts. 

We have cleared the brush around the cabins that was blocking the views. Now our cabin guests can fully enjoy the beautiful vistas from their porches!
Work has begun to make repairs to Ring Road, improving the roadway experience for all who travel it.
A MountainCamp
Parent's Story

Brynan Hadaway's daughter Sophie participated in Elementary MountainCamp for four years, then skipped the next year.

Sophie wasn't sure she wanted to come back to MountainCamp because she wanted to go to the local YMCA camp with her friends. But, Brynan was committed to having Sophie continue to experience MountainCamp, because of its core values and inclusive environment.Sophie returned to MountainCamp for two weeks that year because her Mom insisted.

Sophie's Dad picked her up from MountainCamp. He called Brynan from the car on the ride home and said, "Sophie has something to tell you." Dad handed Sophie the phone.
"Mom, I've decided I'm a Mountain Girl."

The phone line went silent. Sophie told her Dad that Mommy wasn't talking. "I think Mommy's crying," he said.

And, that was exactly right. Brynan remembers the emotions she felt when she heard those words from her daughter. "I felt validated as a parent and my heart was filled with joy for my daughter Sophie. It still brings tears to my eyes."

Welcome Back Rachel Kinback
Dear Mountain Folk,

I am excited and eager to begin helping each of you to visit The Mountain. As the new Guest Services Staff Member I will be waiting at the other end of the phone line/keyboard to help you with all of your registration needs. 

Having been an Intern at The Many Hands Peace Farm during the summer of 2015 I hope to be a familiar face to some and a new friend to many. For those who do not know me - I moved to The Mountain from Philadelphia in March of 2015 to be an Intern on the Farm. After spending the summer I could not bring myself to leave and decided to call Highlands my home. I then took a job working for The Bascom: A Center for the Visual Arts as Registrar. My background is in the visual arts; and though I very much enjoyed my work at The Bascom, I view my return to The Mountain as a homecoming. 

Since moving here I have fallen deeply in love with tulip poplars, biscuits n gravy and the majestic Chattooga River.  I have learned that coffee smells better in the mountains and that walking uphill for long enough quiets even the most unsettled of minds. I have much to learn and encourage each of you to contact the main office and put me to the test! In the meantime happy trails to you and yours, we hope to see you soon. 
Rachel Kinback
Guest Services and Event Coordinator
The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center
Mountain Executive,
Ted Wisniewski
Every year there is something that happens at The Mountain that screams notice me, look at me, and observe my beauty.    One year it was the 12 inches of rain in the first six days of July; another year it was the tremendous amount of acorns this year it's the Mushrooms and next year it will be the Solar Eclipse. The mushrooms were always here, but the bloom this year exceeds anything I have ever experienced. (scroll down or click link for pictures) The shapes, colors, sizes and smells are truly extraordinary. I am sure this is not the first time we've had a fungal explosion on Little Scaly. The crop this year may explain part of the numerous fairy stories that were once told to our Mountain Campers and guests.   Of course there are other wonderful things that happen here.

Every summer we watch children blossom, adults light up with inspiration and witness healing of hearts and souls.    I was once told a piece of parenting advice that I value and often share. It was "enjoy your kids when they are two because once they turn three they will never be two again". I believe this concept of taking the time to appreciate the subtle things also holds true for our time we share with The Mountain. We don't know when another stunning sunrise will fill our eyes, or when the stars will shine just right or the when the clouds fill the valley with whimsical smoke. We do know that while we are at The Mountain these opportunities will present themselves. If we are lucky enough, wise enough and patient enough we will accept these gifts with clear eyes and an open heart.

Accepting these gifts is something many of us need to learn. I learned how to accept these gifts from many of you, who consistently look for the beauty and wisdom in life. I also learned it from our recently departed friend and co-worker Peter Raoul, who no matter how gray the day way or as troublesome as our technology was being, he always found a way to smile and laugh. I will always be grateful for his humor, advice and wisdom he shared with me. I will also always be grateful for the gifts The Mountain gives me and the gifts that you give, keeping the The Mountain giving to all of us.          
Theodore D. Wisniewski
Executive Director  
ted.wisniewski@TheMountainRLC. org
828-526-5838 ext.245

My Mountain Anniversary
By Alex Willocks
In August of 2013, after years of uncertainty and stress, I completed my college education. Unfortunately, I was told that I didn't have enough experience for all of the jobs I applied to. My lease was ending on August 31, I had no job lined up, and I was not looking forward to the idea of moving back in with my parents even though I love them dearly. When talking with my father about my concerns he mentioned that the place my youngest sister, Rin, attended camp and Youth CONs accepted long term volunteers. He figured I could go there and volunteer while I figured my life out. I contacted Ted and after a lengthy phone interview I was invited to become a long term volunteer at The Mountain.

On September 1st, I moved to a different state where I knew no one and I did it alone. As empowering as that was, it was also terrifying. I had all sorts of thoughts like "what if I hate it there?" or "you are crazy to make this move - especially on your own." To my surprise, the folks here took me under their wing, especially Kerry Kennedy and Julia Jamieson, and I slowly fell in love with this place. As December neared I again was uncertain of what my future held. The job search was still going poorly but more than that, I had no idea what I really wanted to do. Ted approached me about becoming a staff member and since I felt that I wasn't finished with this place yet, I accepted. As winter furlough ended I returned as a paid employee in February 2014.

Being at The Mountain has allowed me to expand my skill set, become clear on my personal beliefs and values, and has allowed me to explore areas that I didn't know I would one day be interested in. It has given me the time and space to think about who I am and who I want to be, what I want my future to look like, and what mark I want to leave on the world. Earlier this year I came to the conclusion that I wanted to become a massage therapist so that I can assist others in feeling better and recovery from traumas.
To top it all off, I met and fell in love with Bill Hagemann while I was here. Starting a relationship at The Mountain was completely unexpected but I am so glad it happened. In December Bill and I will be having a handfasting ceremony at the Labyrinth to commit to each other. Shortly thereafter we will say "goodbye for now" to The Mountain and our Mountain family and start the next  chapter of our lives in Birmingham, Alabama. 

I will attend massage therapy school while Bill finds work on a farm or two. Our goal is to one day purchase land to live and farm on, live a sustainable lifestyle, and sell food at farmers markets. Of course, I will be starting a massage therapy practice during all of this. We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us but I feel confident that we will get there.

My time here at The Mountain has meant so much to me. I have met so many people that have influenced me in small ways and in big ways. I hope to see you at The Mountain soon - and if it isn't soon then I will see you at The Mountain someday.  


  My Experience at the Mountain
By Suhkin Chawla
It has been my pleasure to work with The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center this summer. Being from another country and living  alone is challenging, but, The Mountain, almost immediately made me, not only feel safe but like being a part of a family.  I fell in love with the place at first sight, feeling its positive energy, inside and out. 
I decided to apply for an internship at The Many Hand Peace Farm at The Mountain as it complemented my work towards a  Masters degree in Agriculture Business.  The Farm Internship Program is an educational program that offers opportunities to learn about everything from organic food produce and raising free-range chickens to running a greenhouse and making compost. 
My parents back in India are proud of me for the skills and maturity that have come from my Mountain experience. In addition to working on the farm, I had the opportunity to work in Guest Services, Housekeeping as well as contribute to Mountain Matters with articles and editing.
Working at The Mountain has been an incredible gift and I am a better person as a result of this experience. I am a stronger, more patient and mature than I was when I came.  This place is majestic for giving me all life lessons.
Special Thanks to Ted Wisniewski, who is  a super awesome and caring Executive Director. Seeing him working in the Kitchen at 6 AM or assisting other staff are great examples of showing Ted's down to earth nature, gratitude and still managing all duties of being an excellent boss. 
At the end, I would like to thank everyone for their kind support for welcoming, accommodating and helping me adjust to my stay in the US. There is no doubt in saying that now I am a part of the Mountain Family and will keep supporting the place either by volunteering or visiting. I look forward to coming back some day with my Indian children and husband to show off a place that means so much to me.
Thank you again, everyone, and love to you!
Volunteers Charles & Lois Lee of Sarasota, Florida
Volunteer Rose van der Berg lives in Ormond Beach, Florida when she isn't at The Mountain.
Want to Live longer, be Healthier and Feel Happy?
Come to The Mountain, sit in the clouds, and volunteer!
By Rose van der Berg  

It's my third week as a resident volunteer at The Mountain. I sit on Meditation Rock and delight in the lavender-pink colors of the sunset and the wispy white clouds floating among the Blue Valley mountains - that really are blue at sunset. I'm pleased with a photo I take of the vista on my cell. I see an enchanting hummingbird. I feel vibrantly alive, physically strong and happy. I take pleasure in the smell of the forest and the music of the tree frogs as I leave the spectacular view and walk to my cabin. As I settle in for the night, I review in my mind another wonderful day of being nurtured by intimate connection with nature, inspired by enriching interactions with people who want to make a difference, and energized by contributing to a learning center that advances a m ission I passionately believe in: building a more compassionate, inclusive world. I drift to sleep looking forward to the adventures of the next day and feeling grateful to The Mountain and its amazing staff for helping me realize my vision for this time of my life.
I come from a background that required "evidence-based" methods. So on retirement I looked for ways to stay as dynamically hea lthy and happy as I can for as long as I can that are supported by research.
I found abundant research that indicates seniors who volunteer have a higher quality of life, enhanced mental and physical health, less disability, and live longer. One study found that older seniors with mobility issues had increased mobility after several months of volunteering. The effects of volunteering were found to be greater than other factors such as income, education level, or marriage. It appears from initial evidence that the health benefits of volunteering are due to the increased physical, social, and mental activity resulting from being a volunteer.
I also found plentiful research that demonstrates seniors benefit considerably from spending time in nature. Time in nature has been shown to reduce chronic physical pain and lower the need for pain medication, improve sleep and mental health, strengthen the immune system, and increase energy levels. A 2013 study from the University of Michigan found a link between group nature walks and significantly reduced levels of depression, along with a lowered perception of stress and better mental health and well-being. Another study demonstrated that women who spent s everal hours in a forest over two days showed an increase in white blood cells that lasted for a week.
To top off my quest for an evidence-based path to a healthy, happy third act, I came across ample research which shows having a sense of purpose in later life lowers the risk of mortality above and beyond other factors that are known to predict longevity. Research that indicates finding a purpose may help seniors live longer "has clear implications for promoting positive aging..." according to a researcher in the field, Patrick Hill of Carleton University in Canada.
Motivated by my research review, I set out to find a place to volunteer for a purpose I care deeply about in a setting where I can be steeped in nature. The Mountain seemed like a good place to start. I didn't have to look any further.
When I approached Executive Director Ted Wisneisksi about volunteering, he found the perfect project for my personality and skills and set me up with housing and meals for an extended stay on dates tha t worked for each of us in exchange for 6 hours of volunteer time a day (with days off).
I thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing as a volunteer, savor being soaked in the natural world, and relish connecting with the people who live and work here and are here as guests and volunteers. And...I'm demonstrating the research! A mobility issue I've been dealing with has improved since I've been here, I'm sleeping better, and my energy level has increased!  
A poem about The Mountain on the wall of the office called Spirit Voyage by Bill Blask expresses much of my experience in this mind/body/spirit-revitalizing place. One line in particular speaks to what is happening for me here: "The MOUNTAIN lies softly cradling wind, sun and stars, saying...I breathe new breath into the voyager of life."  Spending time immersed in the wondrous outdoor beauty and loving community  of The Mountain while being of use to sustain this sacred space has breathed new breath into this life voyager.
I hope to meet you here as a fellow volunteer!
Dana Brock, Mountain Cook
I came to The Mountain at the invitation of my life partner in July of 2016. I have always had a love of nature, cooking, and been a huge fan of universal love and acceptance. My life partner felt that The Mountain would allow me to grow, and I feel truly honored and blessed that she chose to share it with me.

For the first time in 46 years I've had on this earth, I can be proud of the place I earn my living. What The Mountain means to me is unconditional love - for the earth, for nature, and for your fellow man.

This small piece of heaven (for the views are truly breath-taking), is run by, maintained, and operated by some of the most caring...or what I refer to as "spiritually awakened"...people I have ever been blessed to meet. The young and not-so-young all pull together for the greater good. And everyone is allowed to follow their own path in life with complete and total acceptance. And for me, that alone is a priceless treasure.

From preparing meals with new exiting recipes, to using freshly harvested veggies, and then working with the staff and various young people who come every year, it is by far the most exiting adventure in my career in restaurants.

I look forward to growing more and more in the years to come here with my new family at The Mountain. Because for me it's not a retreat, but more of a safe haven and I love it more and more everyday.

Dana Lynn Brock
Mountain Cook           
2016 Mushrooms on
The Mountain
An Extraordinary Season of
Shapes, Sizes and Color
Thank you Intern Joey Kyle for photography 

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