It seems only yesterday, and at the same moment, a lifetime ago that I arrived at Shadowcliff in May to be greeted by clouds of sawdust and the myriad sounds of the new staircase installation, along with the tired but ever-smiling faces of our incredible crew of volunteers.
Walking down the stairs the final time at season close, I was struck by a sense of comfortable familiarity. Over the course of the season the stairs had seamlessly become a part of Shadowcliff, as if they had always been there, and as I reflect on this 2018 season, I would say that this could be the overarching theme of the summer – the new and unfamiliar transforming, with ease, into the the comfortable and familiar.
After my second season as Assistant Manager I have come to view the Shadowcliff family as my family and its walls and windows as my home – comfortable, familiar, peaceful, and full of love. So many different people at so many different places in their journeys find Shadowcliff a refuge, a sanctuary, and a home. Strangers become friends, new faces are welcomed to the family, old friends reunite and reconnect, and its walls and property offer space to breathe and time to reflect and renew the spirit.
So much of Shadowcliff’s energy lies in its community, and 2018 saw the growth of this community in many positive ways. Aside from Carl and myself, our seasonal staff began the summer completely new to Shadowcliff and they quickly made it their own – working hard, having fun, growing both collectively and as individuals, and even stepping into unanticipated roles of responsibility. This season we welcomed into our home students, musicians, singers, artists, photographers, writers, hoopers, composers, adventurers, and hikers, all with unique stories to tell and a positive energy to contribute that did not go unnoticed by our guests.
Carl and I were both impressed by the interest that our staff took in engaging with guests, groups, and each other. From sharing their stories with the Lighthouse Writers, to leading interpretive hikes, to collaborating on our 4th of July dinner for a completely booked lodge, to performing in the sharing showcase for the Treatment Education Network’s annual HIV Retreat, to attending a very special wedding ceremony, to participating in my weekly community yoga sessions, to cooking a goodbye dinner for each departing staff member, our staff took it upon themselves to interact and promote a positive environment for everyone – to learn, to grow, to share, and to foster a true sense of community.
And, this, I believe, is the magic of Shadowcliff – bringing together folks from all different backgrounds and experiences to build community and create memories in a space that promotes collaboration, growth, discovery, and renewal.
At the end of September, as Carl and I and the staff worked our way through the pages-long shut down list to prepare Shadowcliff for the winter ahead, it was with a sense of accomplishment for a successful season, but also with a sense of bitter-sweetness. Staff had made Shadowcliff and its community home for the summer, and there was a reluctance to bring it to a close, to scatter in all directions and say goodbye to that which had become comfortable and familiar. I take heart in the fact that they will always have the memories of the community they helped to build and, that I hope, contributed in some way to their own personal and professional growth.
I believe the Shadowcliff catch-phrase the staff coined says it all: “Shadowcliff – Making the Memories Happen!”
So my gratitude goes out to this season’s staff and to all the groups and guests of Shadowcliff who support and believe in our mission and in the work that we do, who believe as we do in the the power of human connection. It takes everyone to weave the fabric of our community, each thread offering something unique, colorful, and valuable, and I am excited to return in the 2019 season to continue the tapestry. We have closed the chapter on 2018, but there are new and exciting adventures awaiting us next summer, as well as, I hope, many familiar smiling faces and new friends.
From all of us at Shadowcliff: so long for now, thank you for a great season, and may our paths cross again soon!