I’m a mom, a lawyer, a professor. My children are 8 and 4. Our lives are generally pretty regularly overbooked – school, baseball, swimming, ballet, work travel, court. And we rely on our technology to keep life organized, solve last minute problems, fill in the gaps between things that.must.be.done. There’s plenty of research out there about it, but our lives are a giant shining cliché about Modern American Life.
We ended up at Shadowcliff’s Critters, Creeks, & Crows in 2016 in part because a friend recommended it, but in even bigger part because I felt guilty. We had lived in the Mountain West for 2 years and had done almost nothing to explore the natural gifts of the region. I was also having a difficult academic year and I hadn’t been present much – physically, yes, but psychically, not really. Critters, Creeks, & Crows provided me an easy way to carve out time to be still, to be with the children, to watch them learn. It allowed all of us a chance to connect, to be curious together, and to have fun in one of the most beautiful locations we could ever have imagined.
We love Shadowcliff. From the moment we climbed the steps onto the wrap around porch, we were hooked. The view is extraordinary. For a newly minted 4 year-old (her birthday was the day before we arrived) and a very active 7 year old it was a great place to run and play tag. The great room offered plenty of non-screen distractions, from books to games. Our room faced the North Inlet Stream and, despite the evening chill, I never closed our window so the children could listen to the sounds of the water as they slept.
Critters, Creeks, & Crows itself was a gift for all of us. We learned more than I can say about the ecology of Rocky Mountain National Park. The children had the chance to measure the turbidity of Grand Lake. There was fly fishing and bug identification and star gazing, marshmallow roasting and fire sitting and storytelling. To be sure, I’d brought the screens with us just in case, but over the course of the 3.5 days we shared with the other families attending camp, the screens were forgotten. Our days were full but not exhausting, just enough to land every one of a us a good night’s sleep but not so much that we felt shuttled from event to event with no chance to slow down or enjoy what was happening around us.
Most importantly, the children and I were together, in body and in spirit, learning together, exploring together, playing and being still. Over those 3.5 days we connected in ways we might never have had the opportunity to if we had remained in the structure of our busy lives. I watched my children, who have no lack of imagination or curiosity on a regular day, immerse themselves in their natural world and cut loose with questions and stories and made up games running around the property. I could not have asked for more for any of us.
A year later when Shadowcliff announced Critters, Creeks, & Crows 2017, I hesitated asking the children if they would like to return. I wanted to return, but what if my enjoyment of that time was mine alone? What if our busy lives had erased those memories for them? I need not have worried. There was a resounding YES! when I brought up the topic. So, we’ll be there again this June making the most of our time together and continuing our journey.
Danielle runs the Civil Legal Services Clinic at the University of Wyoming. She’s a city person raised in the suburbs who is finding ways to embrace living in the mountains. She loves a good campfire but will always pass on the marshmallow.
The Mountains Do Not Care! So reads the warning as the Tonahutu Trail leaves the subalpine and winds its way toward the alpine tundra. A bit impersonal but we get the message. There are consequences if we underestimate the effect of altitude, distance, darkening skies, thunder, or the possibility of storms and lightning. The mountains do not care if we experience unpleasant consequences, but this doesn’t mean that they are angry with us or that blue skies and clear sailing suggest their favor.
Like the mountains, nature makes no judgments. Lightning, floods, and hurricanes make no judgments about good or bad before striking. They are simply natural consequences occasioned by the systems in which they exist.
When the neighborhood cat pounces for the bird at our feeder or a mountain lion leaps toward a young deer, nature is making no judgment about these behaviors. These are simply the natural behaviors of predator and prey.
When pine beetles began attacking our lodge poles back in 2003, we were certain we must act quickly to save our trees from this aggressive predator. But we learned that pine beetles are native to pine forests and were just being pine beetles. Nature was just responding to the conditions of the forest: drought, a monoculture of same aged lodge poles, and lack of fire –conditions which, together, provided the food supply for a growing population of beetles. We learned to be sad for the loss of the trees without judging the actions of the native pine beetles as either bad or good. It was simply a natural consequence.
Within nature, species express preferences for sunlight, water, nutrient, habitat. Some species behave more reflexively and more developed species even make cognitive choices.
As often as I have shared my thoughts about nature’s laws or operating principles, I have never quite found a way to share how this one might work for people: nature makes no judgments. At some level we recognize the differences in opinions, preferences, choices and “judgments,” although we often use the words interchangeably. When pushed for distinction, we tend to reserve “judgment” to mean something that is good or bad, or perhaps right or wrong. In human societies we have created human-made laws intended to reflect what our society regards as right or wrong. As our populations increase, certain basic laws seem necessary to our species’ survival while others simply express our cultural preferences. There is a distinction. Judgment about right and wrong is far different than our expressions of cultural preferences.
We humans tend to express our preferred beliefs by creating religions, political parties, clubs, sports teams, and a myriad of institutions, each of which tend to push us into right and wrong judgments about our own behavior and that of others. All too easily, we then separate ourselves from others based on the beliefs of one or more of our chosen group’s values about “right and wrong”.
Nature’s laws teach us about consequences, but place no value such as right or wrong on those consequences. They simply “are.” I believe as cognitive creatures of nature, we naturally express our preferences, but perhaps nature’s guidance is to at least recognize the difference between personal or group preferences and judgments which proclaim the absolute “rightness” of one individual or group’s preferences over another. Ultimately, of course, nature is not bound by our human laws or preferences and it is the interconnectedness of all creatures and natural systems that determine the consequences to all life on this planet.
–Robert J. Mann, tireless advocate and board member of Shadowcliff
Calling anyone and everyone who dearly loves Shadowcliff (or a good night’s sleep) and wants to see new mattresses, sheets, blankets, and other upgrades to the many beds at our lodge. Be a Dream Maker now!
Last September we posted about the start of our Dream Maker campaign (you can read that post here). After successful testing of our new natural and organic mattresses from Suite Sleep, this spring is the time to raise the funds needed to upgrade at least 10 beds. What kinds of upgrades? you ask. Well, for starters, every double bed will be replaced with a queen. And to do that, we need new sheets and blankets, as well as mattresses. Along the way we learned that box springs are really expensive. The new mattresses need some kind of support, but their warranty is voided if they’re placed on top of a used box spring, so for all of our queen beds we need new slat bed frames.
The twin mattresses will also be upgraded. As those of you who have had a night’s rest in one of our bunk beds may know, some of them need a little TLC. Plus, we can’t put a new mattress down with too few slats underneath. This means that we’ll have some volunteer time this May on bolstering the mattress supports for all our bunk beds before placing the new mattresses on top.
Follow these easy steps:
It’s really that simple! Just decide if you want to Cuddle Up, Count Sheep, or more. And if you’re really hoping to see a new mattress in a particular room, be sure to make a note in the comment section. Oh, and April 1st is the deadline so that we have enough lead time to get the new mattresses ordered and delivered, and the old mattresses removed and recycled.
If you can’t give money right now, then consider:
Shadowcliff is a seasonal nonprofit lodge and educational retreat center, and as such we are only on site 5 months out of the year, but we are always connected and dedicated to the success of Grand Lake and the surrounding area. With this in mind, we will be sharing profiles of people and organizations around town that we consider partners in some way.
This time we are happy to share with you a bit about the amazing woman behind the Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, Samantha Bruegger, who moved from LA to the CO with the notion that life in the mountains was calling her. Years later, she is settled in Grand Lake, calling it her forever home where she and her husband Shawn are expecting their first child this fall.
Samantha, or Sam as most know her, came to Grand Lake from Los Angeles about four years ago. With a Masters in Environmental Policy from Pepperdine, she had been working in groundwater mitigation at a public affairs firm and needed a change. When asked if it was a big transition from LA to Grand Lake, she answered, “Yeah. It was. But I feel some people just know they belong in the mountains. I knew I wanted to find a home in the mountains. Grand Lake definitely is home.”
Looking to become a part of the community and to make a meaningful contribution through her work, she applied to and became the Marketing and Tourism Director for the Grand Lake Area Chamber. Not too long after, she stepped into the role of Executive Director, a full-time leadership position. As many folks in Grand County know, no matter your paying job, you often wear many hats. For Sam, this has meant continuing with her dedication to environmental advocacy first as a board member and then as the Development Director for the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust, and now through various efforts specific to water.
In her role as E.D. at the Chamber, Sam began working cooperatively with the Chamber Board of Directors to learn what sustainable growth looks like for the Grand Lake area. The result was a refreshed, simple focus to Promote a sustainable, year-round economy, which prompted the important question: What does a four-season economy mean for Grand County?
When Sam first arrived, even summer weekdays weren’t completely full. Part of the answer to the four-season economy question is to fortify the times that should naturally be the strongest. “It begins with really building out the summer, and then building out September and May as the ‘shoulder months.’ September is now one of our busiest months. Then, you grow from there.”
A grant from the Colorado Tourism Office through a partnership with other Colorado national park gateway communities has helped boost winter time activities, too. “They look to spread some of that busy summer traffic into other seasons like winter. Here in Grand Lake you can Nordic ski or snowshoe and see a part of the park you never see. It’s a really pristine and untouched environment to explore.”
How do you tell if you’re moving the needle? Car counts coming into town, City and County sales tax filings, web and social media traffic (visit them on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest), and the foundation of it all: checking in with the businesses of Grand Lake and learning what they know, such as capacity from lodging partners. Sam feels it important to measure the qualitative by asking her members, “How do you think you did this summer? Was traffic to your store up? If they’re feeling good that’s also a good indicator of growth.”
A first win for the four-season economy effort was the 2016 Ride The Rockies, a fundraising cycling event that takes cyclists on a route through various communities in the Rocky Mountains. An estimated 2,500 cyclists spent part of a beautiful June day and overnighted in town, before heading off along Trail Ridge Road early the next morning. “It let us test our capacity for larger events; how many people could we fit in town and how can we work together. It was a really good stress test,” she said. Even the cyclists themselves had glowingly positive feedback. “They loved Grand Lake – to have a bunch of people who’d never been here before, poll positively – it was a big win for us!” Sam added.
Standing by the belief that economically healthy communities are also environmentally healthy communities, the Chamber is now part a burgeoning effort called Outstanding Grand Lake (OGL), the home of #WeAreTheColorado and an educational resource specific to Grand Lake. Shadowcliff is proud to have been involved in the early stages of OGL and is thrilled to see it find a home within the Chamber. As the largest and deepest natural lake in the state, Grand Lake is an enormous asset, and the Chamber considers water resiliency and economic growth as working hand-in-hand.
Next time you’re in Grand Lake, be sure to swing by the Chamber building that sits right at the entrance of town. They’ll be able to give you some interesting information about the town and would love to hear what you hold most dear about Grand Lake. Be sure to say hi to Sam while you’re there!
“ . . . discover once again what it means to be a person . . . To offer persons seeking a renewal of spirit, the sacred atmosphere of this quiet retreat . . . To find in this sanctuary of the Rockies a new rhythm of life- the rhythm that nature herself enjoins us to rediscover and restore to our own being.”
– Warren Rempel, musings on the reasons for founding Shadowcliff
There has always been a need for places that provide connection. From churches to festivals to favorite campsites, we gather with friends and family in various places in a shared rhythm. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. We are drawn to these spaces to connect with one another, seeking common occurrence and a familiar frame of reference. In these spaces we remember ourselves, defined by those around us and the deep, unspoken tie of a shared experience.
When times are good, these places and the people within them highlight our joys. They help us celebrate and share in the happiness. Sometimes these places are the very embodiment of good times, and that is the reason we join in them. It is important to find community when times are good; it codifies that the good does exist and deepens the experience. Almost more important is what’s hidden within the lines of how we treat each other when times are good: the basis for how we must hold each other when times are trying. That is the quiet strength of community.
At Shadowcliff, community and a sense of place have always been at our core. From the hundreds of international volunteers who loving brought the physical spaces of Shadowcliff to life and continue to maintain them, to the thousands of guests who have stayed within those ardently built walls, to the amazing staff who have shared in the “divine madness,” each step of the way has been fueled by the desire to provide a place to retreat and connect without judgement.
We have one most cherished belief at Shadowcliff: when people are given time and space to connect with their own thoughts, each other, and nature, the world can be a better place. We do not seek to change worldviews, only to supply a space for reflection and dialogue where that is often the natural outcome. Places like this are hard to find. While we can generally find places that surround us with the familiar, it is harder to find places of solace where we then become open to the views and thoughts of others. And it is only when we can hear each other that we can stand united.
Look around you. Times are trying. No matter your political or religious views, anxiety and anger abound. It is now that we must shine a light on the most important aspects of community and hold each other with love, even when we do not understand one another. It is now that seeking out and supporting places of peace, places that encourage dialogue, places like Shadowcliff, becomes an act of solidarity.
Perhaps Edward Abbey put it best in this reflective passage, written about a moment in time he came face to face with a mountain lion (emphasis added by me, because):
“I haven’t seen a mountain lion since that evening, but the experience remains shining in my memory. I want my children to have the opportunity for that kind of experience. I want my friends to have it. I even want our enemies to have it- they need it most. And someday, possibly, one of our children’s children will discover how to get close enough to that mountain lion to share paws with it, to embrace and caress it, maybe even teach it something, and to learn what the lion has to teach us.”
– The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West, page 238
May the peace and reflection you find at Shadowcliff fill your hearts in the days to come,
Please join in our annual appeal with a cash donation.
As a tax exempt 501c3 organization, 100% of your donation is tax deductible.
There are mornings at Shadowcliff where the mist rises, the clouds settle, and one can wake with the feeling of floating in the sky, resting on the clouds. As the day slowly churns to a start and the vapors begin to burn off, one realizes again that our little slice of heaven is indeed here on earth. It is this magical experience of peace and tranquility that speaks to the heart of what Shadowcliff has to offer. Peace and tranquility not just of mind, but also of body. It is because of this that we at Shadowcliff have turned our attention to the sleep quality of our guests and are very excited to announce our mattress replacement plan and the ever-important supporting Be a Dream Maker fundraiser!
Guided by our vision of “an eco-friendly mountain sanctuary where together we are creating a climate for a restorative world,” we aren’t running out and ordering run of the mill mattresses. While they may be an upgrade in sleep quality to some of the rooms (hello bunk beds!), they would fall drastically short of what we stand for and how we do business. Chemical toxicity from fire retardants, manufacturing of the raw materials, supporting the local economy, and closing the loop on the lifecycle of our old mattresses are all things we are taking into account.
Purchasing mattresses made by a Colorado company using natural and organic materials may seem like a tall, expensive order, but thanks to our friends at Boulder-based Suite Sleep, it’s not. After interviewing several organic and natural mattress suppliers across the country, I was reunited with Suite Sleep, a company from whom I personally had purchased an organic cotton futon ages ago. When I first spoke with Angela Owen, Sleep Diva, I knew it was going to be a good relationship. She was interested not just in obtaining our business but also in learning the nature of our business and our not-for-profit mission. We spoke several times, I went down to try some mattresses, she came up to the lodge in May to see the place for herself, and in June we placed an order for eight test mattresses: six singles and two queens.
The mattresses have been in Rempel rooms 1-7 and the men’s hostel for a few weeks now. The feedback, which our managers have been gathering with a Three Little Bears themed card placed in each room, has been “just right,” as these folks have shared:
“After a full night of good sleeping, Just Right!”
“Best hostel bed that I can remember!”
We are so thrilled and ready to replace as many mattresses as we can at the start of next season! In order to do that, we need your support. Please contribute to the Be a Dream Maker fundraiser and help get all of the mattresses replaced. Share with your friends and family, too. After hearing you talk about Shadowcliff, they may want to make a visit for themselves and we’d love that to include a good night’s sleep on a new mattress.
Questions, ideas, and thoughts about this exciting step for Shadowcliff? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk.
By Hillary Mizia, Shadowcliff Executive Director
In his latest installment of the Laws of Nature, Robert J. Mann discusses the Law of Adaptation. Bob explains that when the habitat changes, you have just a few choices; migrate, become extinct or you can adapt. As humans, migration isn’t yet and viable option ( keep working on it Elon!) Luckily, we are some of the best ever at adapting and we’ll need to get better at it, in order to survive.
I think Nature has it right. About adaptation I mean. Nature clearly rewards adaptation. I just returned from Shadowcliff where I look out the window of Fireside cabin and see a mule deer and her fawn and hear the crows making their run up the North Inlet Stream. Later in the day, a fox crosses our path below the entry road and while hiking on the trail to Summerland Park I see two mallards “dabbling “in the stream. These are not the charismatic critters we first associate with Shadowcliff or Rocky Mountain National Park, but they do belong here. Funny thing is that near our home in Fort Collins I see these same critters thriving in a habitat greatly altered over time by humankind. We were in Canton, Georgia recently and saw members of the same species in an entirely different habitat there as well. These species are survivors, not because they are bigger or wiser or more beautiful than others, but simply because they have adapted to a variety of environments over many generations.
In the big picture, we know that there has been life on this planet for give or take, four billion years. We know that roughly 99% of the species that have ever existed are now extinct. The last major period of species extinction was 65 million years ago. That’s the one that caught the dinosaurs, the creatures like us at the top of the food chain. Yet there were some mammals, amphibians, reptiles, plants, aquatic dwellers who survived that period and in some form continue to populate the earth today, but not without change. The catalyst for that extinction was some force that created dramatic change in the habitat of most creatures then living on planet earth. When their habitat changed so dramatically, there was little time for evolutionary adaptation or even migration and the result was a huge period of species extinction.
The four billion years of life on planet earth teaches us that when habitat changes all species do one of three things: migrate, adapt or become extinct. If that habitat change covers vast regions such as ice ages, volcanic eruptions, asteroid strikes or dramatic shifts in climate there is little opportunity for migration as an adaptive behavior. Nor is evolutionary adaptation an option as it requires many generations to result in sufficient change to avoid species extinction.
It is clear that our human habitat is changing and that we homo sapiens are the primary cause of these changes. This is a much larger issue than climate change. It includes our sheer numbers. Our species has doubled in size in less than fifty years. We are exhausting natural resources such as soil, water, minerals and certainly the extractive resources that have fostered our rapid growth beyond a sustainable pace. Our increasing population now centers in mega-cities rather than a rural lifestyle and our religious and political systems struggle unsuccessfully to cope with such accelerated changes. Yet we are simply a species and Nature’s operating principles do apply to us. Our habitat is changing, and we have the same options as every other species on this planet; migrate, adapt or become extinct.
Migration is an unlikely option so adaptation is the choice. Here is the hopeful part. We are the most adaptive species on the planet. We are not dependent upon historical models of multi-generational evolutionary adaptation! We have the capacity to intentionally adapt and to do so quickly. We can plan and enact our own adaptation as no other species before us! But we must do so quickly. We must limit our growth and preserve the natural resources that remain. We must develop an appreciation for biodiversity understanding that species diversity builds ecosystem resilience upon which we depend for our own human survival. All of this requires dramatic changes in our economic, religious and political systems.
Unlikely? Perhaps, but this adaptation remains the challenge for our survival as a species.
Robert J. “Bob” Mann, Bob practiced business law for twenty-five years, founded and directed Bridging The Gap, Inc., the mid-west’s largest environmental education organization in Kansas City and with his wife served as Co-director of Shadowcliff from 2001-2012. Bob has facilitated more than fifty multi-day sustainability, environmental and planning workshops at Shadowcliff including National League of Cities, Sustainability Institute Workshops in 2013 and 2014. He has extensive experience working with businesses as well as elected and staff leaders from all levels of government. Bob was an early proponent of sustainability training exploring a broader and deeper understanding of systems thinking and the implications of nature’s operating principles for the challenges we face as individuals and organizations.
by Jay Liebenguth
Anna Buck, this season’s chef at Shadowcliff, is originally from St. Paul Minnesota. She comes to us via New Orleans , Israel, and even Australia. To say that she moves around a bit doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.
She was referred to Shadowcliff by her friend Hannah in 2015 but the timing didn’t work out. Hillary emailed her in February and found her in Australia, ready to come experience life in a small mountain town.
Anna was looking forward to a quiet summer with a chance to experience many of the roles that it takes to run Shadowcliff, as she has dreams of running a hostel / yoga retreat someday. Utilizing her Nutrition degree from the University of Minnesota (go Gophers!) Anna is pitching in her knowledge and talent to plan gluten-free, paleo, vegan and other dietary needs of our guests.
Now she has the full responsibility of the position including planning the meals, making sure there’s enough food around for the staff, and the ordering. Sometimes she’s cooking all day to get ahead of a group or a big weekend. She has two helpers during the day from the staff. “It’s nice to have the help from the other staffers. Everyone’s been really good about pitching in to help out,” she says. “I think it helped that we became friends first before I actually took this position, so I felt comfortable working with them in the kitchen.”
Some of the early challenges have been around food availability. Places like Golden Organics in Denver provides bulk grains and local honey but challenges still exist. “There are CSAs in Fort Collins where we’ve been getting some meat and vegetables,” Anna offered. “But it’s always hard to figure out who’s going to pick it up and bring it up here, or trying to get the farmer on board, or to understand their expectations – like how much do we have to buy to make it worth their while. It’s something that I hope to keep doing because I think it’s important to source food locally as much as possible.”
Anna’s cooking is influenced by her travels. Where else might you see a middle-eastern inspired stuffed pepper and homemade baklava on the menu? “You see how different a meal can be in another place. It’s just kind of opens up your mind to possibilities,” she said.
Where else does she get inspiration for new recipes? Aside from perusing the internet, she has found inspiration at the old standby: the library. “Recently I had one called the Anti-Inflammatory Cookbook and it was really good! So I’m always thinking about each group and trying to figure out how to best cater to their specific needs.”
I have it on good authority that Anna has been killing it in the kitchen. (That’s a good thing-BTW) If you’re up at Shadowcliff this season and you get a chance to taste her inspired cuisine, make sure to let her know how much you appreciate her thoughtfulness and preparation. And, our good timing.
Jay Liebenguth is a content strategist and producer, when he’s not volunteering at Shadowcliff on the Marketing team. He can be found online at LivewithJay.com or follow him on Twitter @LivewithJay.
Ever wanted to take your whole family on a short hike to a waterfall, or stargazing or fly fishing? You can do all this and more when you sign up for Critters, Creeks, and Crows program for families and grandparents at Shadowcliff.
Gail Spinden will again lead this year’s edition, with even more activities planned and led by community experts and facilitators . . . and that means you won’t have to hear, “What are we doing next…I’m bored!”
Gail herself was a Park Ranger for more than 10 years at Rocky Mountain National Park and now teaches at Mountain Sage Community School in Fort Collins. She is very familiar with the West side geography, history flora, and fauna. One of the great advantages of Shadowcliff is its location and prime access to the Western entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and its excellent biosphere. “We will see a lot of critters,” said Gail. “The whole camp is a wonderful family memory building trip for parents and their kids, and even grandparents. It’s great natural fun.”
We also feature home-cooked meals using locally sourced meat and produce whenever possible. So again, there’s less that you have to be responsible for – like a REAL vacation!
New this year is a chance to have a Rocky Mountain fly fishing experience. Jeff Rodriguez, the fishing lead at the Orvis Store at Cherry Creek in Denver will be leading the effort and yes, he’s bringing the equipment, too. Adults who are interested in learning to fly fish will need a Colorado fishing license for the day. (Contact Shadowcliff’s Program Coordinator Kelly Yarbrough to find out more.)
Jeff says that fly fishing is great fun for the whole family. This particular experience will be limited to about 4- 5 families and will be on a first come, first served basis because of the equipment needed and the teaching nature of the event.
“I think the sport (fly fishing) has gotten a bad rap for having a lot of barriers to it like, ‘you have to travel a long distance, it’s pretty expensive, and it’s difficult to learn.’ My goal is to keep it as simple as possible and to get people having a good time and hopefully, we can get them a fish,” Jeff says. “It’s a really rewarding experience. You get to experience the whole ecosystem of the river. It’s not like white water rafting. You’re a little bit more in tune with the river,” Jeff added.
The prime age group for Critters, Creek & Crows is for kids 6 to 14 years old. Other ages will be entertained too and there is some flexibility based on those attending. “We purposely keep the camp limited so we can cater as much as possible to a smaller group,” Gail said.
This is an awesome chance for families to reconnect and to disconnect from their technology. “The rule for us has been that when the campers come outside with me, like on a hike or when we are eating, electronic devices need to be put away,” Gail says.
The deadline for Critters, Creeks & Crows is fast approaching. If you want your kids (or grandkids, nieces, nephews, etc.) to have a wonderful, nature-intensive vacation and retreat in the Rocky Mountains, where the activities are planned and led by someone else and where the meals are natural and delicious, then get on board with this Shadowcliff Colorado memory making experience.
Your kids will love you for it!
by Virginia Lore
Shadowcliff is close to my heart. As a child, I traveled there with a group of people from my faith community (which included Bob & Judith and probably other Shadowcliff volunteers you may know). Different groups from our faith community (then called Ecumenikos) returned a couple of times as more and more people fell in love with Shadowcliff. My favorite vacations were those times: paddle boats, ice cream in Grand Lake, riding a horse (once — we didn’t much like each other) and mostly just smelling that heavenly high-altitude air that let me know I was in a rare environment.
When I planned my wedding as a child, I always planned it to happen on the point by the cross overlooking the lake. In high school, I returned with a different group, the youth group from Valley View United Methodist church in Kansas City. I was physically not that fit and had never done anything really difficult, physically. One day we all went out on a hike past Adams Falls. At about the 1.5-2 mile mark most of the group was ready to go back. I was certainly ready to go back. But the boy I had a crush on wanted to go with the hard-hiking group all the way up to Lone Pine Lake. So I followed him. I didn’t think I could do it;
“From that moment on, I knew that I’d accomplished something hard, something I wasn’t already gifted at. It gave me confidence not in my gifts (I had plenty of that) but in my efforts and ability to work for something.”
I was terrified of heights and there were a lot of what you might call “beautiful views” along the way that made my knees shake. I was sore and slow, but when I toddled those last few steps into Lone Pine Lake everybody cheered. And I felt something I’d never felt before in my life: awe at accomplishing something that I didn’t think I could achieve. That was an 11-mile round trip hike, but beyond that — a pivotal moment in my life. From that moment on, I knew that I’d accomplished something hard, something I wasn’t already gifted at. It gave me confidence not in my gifts (I had plenty of that) but in my efforts and ability to work for something.
About ten years later, I returned there with a faith community group for a week. At that time a young adult living in a partial hospitalization program for people with mental illness, I was working on some pretty hard stuff, mentally and spiritually. At Shadowcliff, I walked alone a lot, meditated a lot, colored, played guitar. I was glad to be there with people but connected particularly with two teenage boys in the community, each of whom was dealing with some hard stuff too. One day I stayed in the lodge and wrote a song, the chorus of which is:
That week I felt something shift in me, profoundly, and for the first time in my highly-depressive life, I knew that I was going to be okay.
A couple of years later, I was visiting with my family in one of the cabins. As I walked through Grand Lake and over to Adams Falls, I felt like this, this was home in a way that I’d never experienced home. I wanted to live there & and I felt called to be there, but I didn’t know why. What the heck, I got a Grand Lake library card anyway. We knew Warren and Patt pretty well, and they told us that night that one of their volunteers had become quite homesick and quit. So they were short a volunteer. I was working a part-time customer service position in Kansas City then, and living in a $200/month apartment, so there wasn’t much to packing up and leaving Kansas City and coming back to be a volunteer for a summer. It was a life-changing summer. I grew so much, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Warren was rough on me when he needed to be, and Patt lovingly gentle, and they balanced each other out really well. I remember being so afraid of maintenance work — I was fine with housework and kitchen, but maintenance really scared me. I tried to trade off those shifts, but Warren insisted that I hold a hammer and find a fallen branch the right size to use as a bridge log. I learned a lot under his tutelage.
My last visit to Shadowcliff was about six years ago. My father was conducting an energy healing workshop I really wanted to go to, and Bob & Judith were the general managers. I didn’t think I would be able to go, but once again, the universe moved so that I would be there, and it was another spellbinding, spirit-opening, magical week that spurred several months of growth. It was sad to me to see what had happened to the lodgepole pines — the place smelled different. But hearing Bob talk about the laws of nature and how the pine beetle was nature’s way of making room for a multiplicity of diverse plants and seeing young aspens come up gave me something different than my initial thought. And again, a leap in spiritual growth.
So Shadowcliff is spiritual for me, a place that has seen me through some very hard times and given me life lessons. I call it a place, but it is more than a place. It is a presence, a wise teacher, a spiritual leader. I’m so glad to know it’s still thriving.
Virginia Lore (nee Crabtree) shares her love of mountains and building community with her two teens, Penn and Elessar. She now lives in Seattle, WA.
by Jay Liebenguth
John and Beth Hoffman and their family have been going up to Shadowcliff since 1975. They met Warren and Patt Rempel in Manhattan Kansas advertising the Grand Lake destination with a small ad in the local newspaper. They visited with Warren and Pat, looked at their photo album and fell in love with the place. As longtime guests at Riverbend Cabin, they felt like their family grew up there during those summers.
John later served on the Board of Directors at the behest of Judith Christy and Bob Mann, at times as Secretary or Treasurer. They watched Shadowcliff grow up over the years from simple changes in decor to the slow metamorphosis into what it is today. “It was always a special time at Shadowcliff,” John says.
Long time Shadowcliff maintenance man and “go-to guy” JJ Eakin started staying with the Hoffmans at their home in Kansas during the off-season. It started as an innocent conversation that was essentially, ‘Would you like to come and stay with us? See how it goes.’ As a native Arkansan, maybe he was built for a Midwestern winter.
He soon became a regular member of the family and could tell you something about all 8 Hoffman kids and 10 grandkids. When John & Beth told him they were going to retire to Florida, he raised his eyes and smiled and said, ‘Yeah, I’ll see what that’s like.’ Spoken in JJ’s true understated style.
Turns out he loved it there and became friends with people around their cul-de-sac, lovingly referred to as ‘the Mayor’ in their Jacksonville area retirement development. He became a confidante and source of a second opinion and a frequent dinner guest. He had people calling him all the time checking in on him. He truly enjoyed his life there including some target shooting or pool hustling at the local community center. He was totally immersed in the lifestyle, even sporting his suspenders and tool belt in the affluent Ponte Vedra community. But, Shadowcliff was his home. “Even when he was very ill, he was still talking about all the things he needed to get done at Shadowcliff. That was his life” said, John.
“When he was in the hospital, he talked to Bob on the phone and apologized that he might be a ‘little late this year.’ He was always looking to the West” said, Beth.
Thankfully, JJ wasn’t sick for very long.
The Hoffman’s returned from a trip to Kansas in late March and the next morning JJ told him that he hadn’t been feeling well lately. (And, he looked it, they confided.) Beth and a neighbor took him to the VA and they discovered he had an aortic aneurysm; a small tear in his aorta, likely caused by a bacterial infection. They treated him with antibiotics and kept him in the hospital for 8 days before releasing him for some recovery time at home in anticipation of a scheduled operation to repair the aneurysm. He was home 5 days and Beth was tasked with administering the antibiotic. Returning to his room one morning, JJ announced that he felt good enough to get up and prepare his coffee that morning. Beth said she felt overjoyed, thinking that he had turned the corner. She returned with the ingredients for his little 4 cup coffee maker and following a brief coughing spell, he was gone, surrendering without any pain and surrounded by people who love him.
All the way to the end, he was determined to get back to Shadowcliff. “I’m going tomorrow,” he would argue. It was his life’s mission and he served us well.
“Even when he was drugged up in the hospital, he was still going through his laundry list of activities including make sure the smoke alarms were activated and other things that he needed to get after. It was the only thing he was saying, that we understood,” said John.
“Every year at this time we would say goodbye to JJ as he took off for Shadowcliff, so it’s normal for him to not be here now,” Beth said, sadly.
I suppose all of us will find our own particular time and place, to miss JJ – a member of our family that will be impossible to replace.
Jay Liebenguth is a content strategist and producer, when he’s not volunteering at Shadowcliff on the Marketing team. He can be found online at LivewithJay.com or follow him on Twitter @LivewithJay.
by Bob Mann
I believe nature has it right.
About diversity, I mean.
Nature really does not seem to like monocultures.
One summer morning in 2004 we experienced the first signs of the pine beetle infestation at Shadowcliff. Granddaughter Carly and her Mom were visiting, and together with our staff, we used chisels and screwdrivers to dig beetles out of recently “hit” trees. At age 4, Carly struggled with this.
She has always been a caring kid and did not want to hurt the beetles. Adult rationalization won her over—at least for that one day! We were a force to be reckoned with! By the end of the day, we felt pretty good about the number of beetles, extricated from our lodge poles. The next morning, we discovered that reinforcements from every division of the pine beetle army had made a laughing stock of our arduous labor.
As is often true of the human family, we wanted a quick fix designed to return things just the way we like them. Phone calls and research suggested that a nasty chemical might kill at least some of the beetles. Already possessing a healthy aversion to chemicals, we decided to learn more about these pine beetles and why they were attacking “our” trees.
We quickly learned more that pine beetles are native to pine forests and play a pivotal role in its life cycles. In ordinary times they would not be “invasive,” but these were no ordinary times. Our pine trees had taken over the forest, stifling the growth of the understory and other species. At certain elevations, they were a virtual monoculture of similarly aged lodge poles. As they aged they became increasingly vulnerable(sound familiar?) Drought further weakened the pine forest as well as our human efforts to protect forests from the natural impact of fires and nature’s thinning. These factors permitted lodge poles to prosper so densely that other species and even new lodge pole growth had trouble competing for air space, water, and nutrients.
Together, lodge poles and beetles provide a powerful example of nature choosing diversity over a monoculture, simply bringing one of nature’s operating principles or “laws” to bear on the lodge pole forest. By preventing fires, our pines thrived but became an abundant meal table for pine beetles. When we humans prevented fires, nature found another way to diversify the forest.
Back in May 2005, we planted 102 trees, varying in size from 10-18 inches in height. A few were spruce or fir but most were lodge poles as we sought to help nature do her thing.
Surprisingly, by 2008 we began seeing “green” in the forest in a new way. The aspen thrived without lodge pole competition; new ground cover and flowers hidden by dense forests now had light and water and grew in new places and numbers. The understory returned and new lodge poles sprang up everywhere. And the trees we planted? Perhaps 3 or 4 of them survived, but nature did not really need us.
New growth is so abundant that this December Judith and I returned to Shadowcliff and thinned the new lodge poles along Shadowcliff’s Laws of Nature Trail by cutting our own Christmas tree, something we would never have imagined possible in 2004.
I believe that nature still has it right. Diversity promotes growth and beauty in all living things—including human beings. In these days when so many fear diversity, want their neighbors to look and believe as they do, and want to build more fences, gates, and rules to keep others out, I am reminded that humans are part of nature, subject to her laws, and that one of nature’s laws is that she rewards diversity and always finds a way to break down monocultures—even ours.
Bob Mann is Shadowcliff’s former co-director and a current board member. He develops and inspires Shadowcliff’s sustainability workshops and is very active in creating partnerships for Shadowcliff. Both Bob and Judith Christy were the inspirations for the Shadowcliff Laws of Nature Interpretive Trail. He has agreed to write a series of articles this Summer to give us a better understanding of the Laws of Nature.
by Carl Sniffen
May at Shadowcliff is truly a special time. It is a time of many things—an awakening, a renewal and a reunion. It is a time when on any given day it can be winter, spring or summer. Each May, a wonderfully special group of people return to reawaken Shadowcliff from its winter slumber, renew and refresh its facilities and grounds, and renew a tradition that began in Shadowcliff’s earliest history.
As many know, Shadowcliff does not exist without its volunteers. Beginning in 1959, more than 600 volunteers from 42 different countries built Shadowcliff. People who gave up their summers to camp along the North Inlet Stream and join other volunteers to create the magical place will call Shadowcliff.
Volunteerism has been and will always be a part of Shadowcliff. Since those humble beginnings, volunteers have returned each May to assess the toll of a Rocky Mountain winter on Shadowcliff facilities, rebuild and restore facilities, clean and refresh rooms, facilities and grounds, and prepare Shadowcliff for the busy season ahead.
This month is also a time for reunion—with so many volunteers returning from year to year, volunteers who now include the children and grandchildren of some of the earliest volunteers. Each year, the volunteer group welcomes new members and hopefully new traditions and memories.
Through the hard work and service by our volunteers,
all is made easier by the companionship of other volunteers, and the opportunity to do important work greatly appreciated by all who keep Shadowcliff in their hearts throughout the years. May is a time when laughter cascades down the hallways of the lodges and throughout the campus. And, any time at Shadowcliff is a time for personal renewal often aided by a few quiet moments spent at the Point or on the Rempel deck gazing at the mirror like surface of Grand Lake and snow-capped peaks.
May is truly a special time at Shadowcliff, and we hope that you might find time this year or next to join us. You can always learn more about volunteer opportunities by contacting board member Carl Sniffen at email@example.com or our executive director Hillary Mizia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long ago, Shadowcliff founders Warren and Patt Rempel began another tradition involving volunteers. All May volunteers are invited back to Shadowcliff later in the season to enjoy a weekend of friendship, relaxation and fun, Shadowcliff’s way of saying “thank you” to such a special group of people. It’s a time to hike, play and enjoy the natural surroundings and beauty of Shadowcliff. This year’s volunteer weekend is tentatively scheduled for August 19-21.
We hope to see you in May, and we look forward to serving you in August.
by Andy Wolfrum and Mariló Herrero Jiménez
Sometimes you are guided to places and people who change the direction of your life. In 2002 – I was young, full of energy and ready to discover the world – I decided to come for the first time to the U.S. With a work visa in my bag I had a whole summer to discover the American culture. I tried to find a job on the east coast, but no success… until I got an offer to work in a lodge next to the Rocky Mountains National Park in Colorado. I called the director, Bob Mann, and my inner voice said: Go there! I had no idea where I was going to, but I knew that I have to go there. I spent some days in Greyhound buses and was then picked up by Bob and Judith in Denver. This was the start of a love story!
The summer of 2002 in Shadowcliff was a time of becoming close to nature – the woods, the rivers, the moose, and elk -, becoming close to humans – the guests, the hikers and the little Shadowcliff community – and becoming closer to a new perspective of living. At that time, Bob started his courses of sustainability and I joined them whenever I could. Those courses at Shadowcliff awakened my inner need and longing to build a sustainable world, a world worth living. Bob and Judith became friends and I knew someday I will go back to Shadowcliff.
So I did in 2007…together with my Spanish beloved Corazón Mariló! We joined the staff of Shadowcliff again for one summer. Mariló and I got to know each other 2003 in France – we could hardly speak to each other because we didn’t know the language of the other…but this did not hinder us to fall in love with each other! We started a love story in distance – she, most of the time in Spain and me in Germany. Finally, in 2007 we tried it out, to see if we could love each other, not only in distance but also when we are super-close together in a little room in the mountain lodge.
It became one of the most beautiful summers of my life. Mariló and I found out that we love to live and work together when we are surrounded by nature and a community. Cleaning showers and toilets, making beds, sweeping and vacuum cleaning is amazing work if you know that you are part of a great project. Judith, Bob, Judy, Skelly, JJ and all the others became our family for one summer. Mariló and I felt safe and at home in Shadowcliff. But not only that, we found a home in nature.
Once we went out for 3 days, hiked up to beautiful peaks, watching sweet marmots and the biggest elk I ever saw. We slept in a small tent, freezing at night and putting our food in a box up the tree so that the black bears would not get it. Scary, but I tell you, Mother Earth is so beautiful out there, especially when you can share it with somebody else. I will never forget those days.
For years now, we work, live and love in the community of Tamera in South Portugal. Together with our son Neo, who joined our lives in 2010, we continue our dream to live a peaceful life among humans in a sustainable cooperation with nature. And this dream started for me at Shadowcliff.
It was a gift and a privilege to be part of this project. Thank you!
Shadowcliff 2002, 2007, 2008
by Jay Liebenguth
Editor’s note: When we were discussing which stories we wanted to tell this year on the Shadowcliff blog, someone mentioned that perhaps Bob Mann could be persuaded to write a series about the Laws of Nature*. I fondly remember my first retreat at Shadowcliff, listening to Bob talk about the LON (I hope it becomes, “a thing.”) After a quick call to confirm, he graciously agreed to write a monthly article about a separate LON and how he sees that playing out in the natural world, today. I’ve always had an affinity for the “law of unintended consequences” and can’t wait to read that one. We hope you will enjoy it too. The following is a conversation to help understand the meaning behind the Laws in our lives. –Jay
US: Laws of Nature, you say? No thank you, I do not care for any more laws, nature or otherwise.
Nature: Rest easy, my friend. These are not new laws – they have been around for billions of years. Besides, you have been living with them all your life, as has everything else on the planet.
US: Come on, I have never seen anything posted about Nature’s Laws, and I have never signed anything saying I would obey anything called “Nature’s Laws”.
Nature: The signs are all around you. Perhaps you do not speak Nature’s language, but you have been living with these laws all your life, and living with the consequences of breaking those laws.
Nature: Just like breaking any law, there are consequences. Trouble is, with Nature’s laws, you always get caught.
US: I have never been caught. Certainly I would know about that at least!
Nature: You forget. I have all the time in the world. You are paying the consequences of your parents’ lawbreaking and your children and grandchildren will pay yours—sort of a “paying it forward” model, but not the sort one is proud of. It is a little like leaving your children a huge debt rather than a nice bank account.
US: So why don’t I know all about these Laws of Nature if they are such a big deal?
Nature: Well, somewhere in the past certain human cultures decided that they were not part of nature, but that they were above nature – sort of “In charge” of nature. If they were in charge of nature, they thought, they could of course just change the laws or choose not to pay any attention to them. But of course, humans do not get to ignore or change Nature’s Laws.
US: So what has changed? Why are these laws so important again?
Nature: Well, like I said, children often pay the consequences of violating Nature’s Laws.
And, there are cumulative effects!
US: You mean that is what is happening now?
Nature: Of course. Increased droughts, more floods, more forest fires, increased food shortages, the warmest years on record, melting Arctic ice, rising sea levels, highest species extinction rate since the time of the dinosaurs, and air pollution are all interconnected events. People are finally beginning to ask more questions and perhaps even listening, a little more. Your scientists, at least, have figured out that human actions significantly contribute to these events which are rapidly changing your habitat. In other words, there are consequences – and there are so many more of you now!!!
US: O.K. Just in case I want to make a difference, I think it’s time you give me some specifics about these Laws of Nature. Make it simple. Is there one big law?
Nature: Well, I suppose there is one big law. It is the law of connection or interconnection. In simplest form it means that everything, everyone, and every time on the planet is connected. A push or a shove somewhere creates pushes and shoves everywhere. I bet you have heard the phrase, “When a butterfly flaps its wings in Tahiti it may cause a tornado in Kansas?”
US: That is a bit fanciful and sounds more like a Dr. Seuss book to me.
Nature: It probably is a bit fanciful, but it captures the essence of the law of interconnectedness. Humans may be free to clear–cut forests, spray poisons on “weeds” or pollute the air or water, but there are definitely consequences. Each action is connected to thousands of other responses. Humans are part of nature and their actions – individually and cumulatively over time – have consequences.
US: O.K., I’m beginning to get the idea. What are some other examples?
Nature: You get rid of a weed or an insect, change the course of a river, kill off a species, dig something up out of the ground or the ocean. Your desire for quick fixes often results in “unintended consequences.” This is the essence of Nature’s Law of interconnectedness. You create future problems and often unintended consequences because you do not fully consider both short and long-term consequences – or you pretend there are no such consequences. And of course, some of you simply do not care about those consequences. Nothing unintentional about that!
US: I think I get the idea of interconnectedness, but I need some simpler tools to better understand how it works.
Nature: Great idea. We’ll share some stories with you over the next few months and actually break this interconnectedness into some separate laws of nature. But they are all just different aspects of this one great law, “Everything is connected.”
The first of these stories is Nature Rewards Diversity. Check in here each month for a new story, and don’t forget: there are consequences to breaking Nature’s laws.
* Law of Nature used in this context is not synonymous with the term natural law which often incorporates human ethics/moral or religious aspects. Here we mean nature’s basic operating or guiding principles. Nor is this an original use of the term Laws of Nature. Specific credit is given to E.O. Wilson and Janine Benyus for their thoughtful exploration of the concepts. Bob Mann’s emphasis is the use of the Laws of Nature to better understand human behavior and in the possible avoidance of unintended consequences.
by Jay Liebenguth
At Shadowcliff, we love a good love story and this one is as good as we’ve heard. (And, we’ve heard a few.)
But first, some introductions. In January, Hillary Mizia, Executive Director of Shadowcliff, named Susan & David Haverty as the new general managers, beginning this season. “They have a wide range of work experience that makes them uniquely qualified for Shadowcliff.” Hillary said. “Plus they are hella funny, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that humor is key,” she added.
Now, back to the story. Susan and David grew up in the same hometown (Ottawa, KS) and went to high school together.
They even had a “mostly forgettable” first date. “I’d call it the worst date ever,” said Susan. They both went their separate ways for college, and happened to meet up again six years later in Kansas City. They went out that night, and the next. And, the next one after that. They spent time together every day, for six months. Then they got married. It’s been almost 48 years of wedded bliss, as the saying goes. Susan reports that Dave says 25 happy years out of 48 isn’t bad!
They spent their years in careers and raising a family that kept them roaming the country. Dave’s jobs included time at International Harvester where he was the VP of Aftermarket Parts and a consulting position with Guinness Brewery that required a stay for a year in Jamaica. Susan worked in public relations and marketing for a utility company. At one point, she worked at a theme park called Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. (Yes, it’s a real place – I Googled it)
It was the first theme park in the nation, even before Disneyland and originally called Santa Claus Land. They also spent time raising three children and they’re looking forward to using their off-season from Shadowcliff to visit their 13 (and counting) grandchildren, stretching from Oklahoma and Kansas to North Carolina. Like any proud grandparents they’ll happily share details of their grandchildren’s involvement in sports, music, and art on both the high school and college levels.
Post career and raising a family, they have enjoyed managing guest experiences and expectations from the Rockies to the Midwest. They’ve operated RV parks and apartment complexes, and were tour guides at the Grand Canyon. When asked what these experiences have helped them to learn, Dave quoted the old adage, “’The customer may not always be right, but they are always the customer.’ You do what you have to do to make sure that the customer is satisfied.”
Susan and David assume that the first year will be an interesting learning-experience. When asked about the youthful staff, their eyes lit up. “We’ve had lots of staff in years past that were made up of younger people. We’ve been involved with youth groups, had volunteers and workers who were younger. We’re looking forward to that,” David said. They once ran a pumpkin patch/ Christmas tree lot in Santa Clarita, California. “We hired staff right off the street. And, we had these dire warnings from the owners that people would steal from us. But it was one the best experiences. We defied projections in pumpkins and didn’t lose a single Christmas tree,” Dave added. Susan is looking forward to meeting the young people that are passing through Shadowcliff both as staff and guests. “I’m most interested in hearing their stories,” she said.
When asked if this was just a stop-over for them, they both shook their heads, emphatically. “We’re not looking for a one-and-done as they say. We’re looking at a several year commitment on both sides,” David said. They found the ad in WorkingCouples.com that Hillary had placed just about the time they were ready to accept another position. They held off taking the other job until they had a chance to visit with Hillary and get a feel for the GM job.
“Dave and I think our age and experience, the things we’ve seen and done, will be a great fit for Shadowcliff,” Susan added.
We couldn’t agree more and hope you’ll join us in welcoming our new general management team!
Jay Liebenguth is a content strategist and producer, when he’s not volunteering at Shadowcliff on the Marketing team. He can be found online at LivewithJay.com or follow him on Twitter @LivewithJay.
By Jay Liebenguth
It’s supposed to reach the 70’s here in Kansas City this week, which sets me to daydreaming about the upcoming spring & summer.
I’m especially looking forward to late June this year and a vacation with my adult daughters, their significant dudes, and my first grandchild. I’ve convinced them that Shadowcliff will be an awesome base for this adventure and I’m excited about sharing this beautiful place with them. (It will also be about the same time as this year’s edition of Critters, Creeks & Crows, a family adventure at Shadowcliff and all around wonderful time for families from 5 – 95.)
In order to entertain seven adults and a 1-year old, I started to think about what kinds of activities you can plan that include everybody. Obviously there’s hiking, a trip down the hill for an ice cream cone, sitting around a campfire – if conditions are favorable, and all the other things that we’ve come to associate with Shadowcliff.
I see us hiking up to Adams Falls, taking turns lugging the grandson up the trail as we flatlanders remember that oxygen is a premium in the mountains. We’ll cook family meals and leave plenty of time to nap, read, or work on a puzzle, if weather becomes an issue.
I think this is a great learning of Shadowcliff; there’s always something to do and plenty of “not to do,” if that’s what you want. (Unless you’re attending one of the many educational or recreational conferences that occur at Shadowcliff each season – those are a little busier but don’t worry, downtime is always a piece of the schedule.)
I want to leave time to enjoy those special moments like sitting on that flat rock out near the cross that overlooks Grand Lake, on a spectacularly blue day. Or a walk along the trail with just a couple of people and one of you spots the south-side of a moose. And it looks up!
I’d want them to take in the sounds of the wind and the fragrance of pine and dirt.
My oldest daughter is a landscape horticulturist at Iowa State University’s Reiman Gardens. I am looking forward to an abundant wildflower presentation like Shadowcliff can put on, and ask her the names of all the flowers. My youngest, is finishing up her degree and has great interest in the environment and natural resources, and I’m seeing us walking the Laws of Nature Trail. And for my grandson’s momma (and fourth grade teacher) I see her in the hammock on the deck of our cabin, catching up on a few winks, knowing she has plenty of people to entertain the babe.
I’m looking forward to sharing experiences and so much more.
Knowing that if these people experience Shadowcliff in the same way so many others of us have, I will be melding my immediate family into my Shadowcliff family.
As the cool air sweeps down the mountains and onto the plains, and the leaves fall gently to earth, the year draws to a close. We are thankful for much at Shadowcliff in 2015. Each one of you helped to make this year a success. From the warm smiles of first time guests and the hugs of our returning friends, to the donations of time, talent, and legal tender, your support propelled us forward through a year of change. Read one for more details or click here to make your annual contribution now.
We established a new leadership model in which our off-site Executive Director, Hillary Mizia, focused on building long-term organizational success while our on-site General Manager, Karen Bellina, ran the in-season daily operations. In years past the Executive Director lived on-site and was deeply involved in the daily operations; this new model focuses on the health of Shadowcliff as a mission-based organization, not solely as a destination.
We furthered the work of our mission to collectively create a climate for a restorative world by exploring new partnerships with a number of organizations and key leaders throughout Grand County and the Front Range. These new connections are forging wonderful partnerships and leading to a positive impact on our local and regional community.
We continued the legacy of connection at Shadowcliff by welcoming 75 volunteers in May, many wonderful new friends and several dedicated returning friends. Our amazing seasonal staff was full of familiar faces- a rarity in seasonal employment- and saw the addition of some great new folks.
Many of you gave us open honest feedback this season. Your desires for improved sleep quality, upkeep to our buildings that enhances the rustic charm, and continuing the warm, personal approach that includes affordable prices, have helped us to shape our plans for 2016. We will be:
Your gift of financial support will help us carry out these actions and more. As a 501c3 organization, your contribution is completely tax deductible. A gift of at least $100 affords you the Friends of Shadowcliff status, providing you the very first opportunity to make reservations for the 2016 season! Whether made in smaller monthly donations or in one gift, we appreciate your generosity.
From donation amounts that bring your early booking privileges to car donations to supporting our programs as a sponsor, underwriter, or with a scholarship, we have a range of choices for you. Learn more here.
You are each vitally important to Shadowcliff, a special place sustained by its relationship with a caring and committed group of friends. With warm regards,
Lance Woodbury, Board President
These were all words used to describe Shadowcliff last spring by the eight participants of Experience Shadowcliff. Originally designed as a way to connect Shadowcliff with people who have a group they may want to bring up for a retreat, workshop, or event, this engaging weekend has turned into something more.
Beyond networking and larger than just programming about who we are, Experience Shadowcliff has become a gathering of those who are drawn to both the unique character of who we are and want to learn more, and to the prospect of finding partners in their work. We’ve found that people feel a kinship to those they meet at an Experience Shadowcliff weekend. Conversations happen, connections are made, experiences are shared. When people gather at Shadowcliff, whether they know each other or not, friendships and alliances are forged. These bonds are simultaneously relevant beyond the grounds of Shadowcliff and have the power to help us with our mission of collectively creating a climate for a restorative world.
All of this is bigger than what we had planned for as the outcome of this weekend, and at the same time a perfect example of why coming to an Experience Shadowcliff weekend is truly a way to experience Shadowcliff. Some call it magic, some relate it to the humbling nature of being on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park and on a cliff above Grand Lake, and some connect it to the heart forward way Shadowcliff was created (a legacy that I strive to uphold), but everyone agrees there’s something special about group events at our lodge.
Next season Experience Shadowcliff dates will be available soon. No longer invite-only, those interested in coming to this deeply discounted weekend should fill out the application here on our website. If you are interested in experiencing who we are and how we can be a partner in your work, meeting new people beyond those in your professional sector, or finding a new, meaningful place for your group retreat, workshop, or event, I encourage you to come. We eat, we talk, we relax, we hike. We connect. And I hope you’ll be there.
Shadowcliff Executive Director
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