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The Women’s Voices for Change Symposium is happening at Skidmore College June 20-23, 2013. This event is put on by the Livingkindness Foundation, whose tagline is “grassroots philanthropy in action.” There is a video about the conference here, http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/women-s-voices-for-a-change–2.
The Albany Stratton Veterans Administration Hospital is hosting a women’s health fair on May 17 from 10-2 in the 3rd floor auditorium. For more info please contact Jane Weber at 518-626-5519 or [email protected].
Our Spring For Hope military families retreat was a rousing success; please reach the linked article in our local paper! Thanks to the many, many partners in this project, especially Homeward Bound Adirondacks.
Our Healing Woods, by Randy Lewis
Originally published in Adirondack Daily Enterprise, September 28, 2010
Driving south toward the central Adirondacks on Friday, I was thrilled with the beauty of fall’s leaves, at peak display for every mile of the winding highway. People were pulled over on the side of the road taking photographs, and the word “glory” kept flashing in my mind. How many of us actually get to see what “glory” looks like?
My friend Tana and I were driving to Great Camp Sagamore in Raquette Lake to work at the 12th Adirondack Arts and Healing Retreat, a fun-filled retreat for women with cancer and chronic illness. Although this group’s makeup may sound a bit sad to some, in fact, it is exactly the opposite.
Women come to Sagamore from near and far for this annual retreat, often returning year after year. The sensation of leaving their ordinary lives behind for the weekend is usually liberating. Driving through gorgeous autumn scenery is much like entering a real-life postcard of mountains at their most beautiful. Driving up the bumpy dirt road that leads to the great camp, people are taken deep into the forest, symbolizing the word “retreat” with every mile.
Everyday life is left behind. Cell phones do not work. There are no televisions, and email and texts vanish in importance, as they become a memory. What is there is natural beauty, and clean, fresh air.
Great Camp Sagamore is a lovely historic site, cared for and enjoyed for over a hundred years. Their 27 authentic Adirondack buildings were the wilderness estate of the Vanderbilt family from 1901-1954. Sagamore was designated a National Historic Landmark in the year 2000. The buildings and grounds are nicely maintained, located on serene Sagamore Lake, with its racing exit stream winding downhill under bridges on that four-mile-long dirt road. This great place of natural beauty invites those who long for a few moments of respite from the busy lives that often consume us, and sometimes even make us sick.
Soothing gifts of nature
The Adirondacks are famous for providing the wilderness environment that enhances the healing so many of us need. Martha Reben wrote the book, The Healing Woods, showing how her life improved when as a frail 20 year old, she went to live in the woods instead of having a fourth operation for her tuberculosis. Edward Livingston Trudeau came to the woods to die, yet healed, and developed a reasonable cure for the disease. Thousands of tuberculosis patients followed him to our forests and mountains to breathe in the soothing air, full of the trees’ exhalations, the rivers’ busy mists. Feeling nature’s soothing gifts often lifts the heart, and brings about an inner peace that allows our own broken pieces to mend.
The Arts and Healing Retreats provide respite for these remarkable women. Many have come over the years, some with caregiving friends, some relying on canes for walking, some bone-weary. Some have been well for many years. They sleep in rooms with homemade quilt-covered beds, and eat delicious food in the rustic dining hall. They get to know one another, and the caring staff. They feel a real sense of Sagamore community as they sit in red Adirondack chairs, gazing out over a mist-covered lake, talking, catching up, and taking workshops in topics like the creative arts and yoga.
Gifts of camp
They learn they are not alone in their sometimes-difficult world of doctors, tests, and chemotherapy and radiation treatments. They learn that they can do things they’d forgotten, or had yet to try, like canoeing, writing in journals, telling stories, or lending their voices to song.
And they laugh. They find humor in things the rest of us are startled by, and their laughter is rich and pure. We all know that laughter is another component of healing, and when combined with friendships and clear Adirondack air, wonderful things do happen.
Not unlike kids heading off to summer camp to be in a wilderness world with friends who return year after year, many of these women look forward to their September Adirondack Arts and Healing retreat with delicious anticipation. They arrive to hug old friends and reach out to new friends. The Arts and Healing staff, led for the past 12 years by co-directors Fran Yardley and Peggy Lynn, earnestly reaches out to provide them with interesting activities, while the Sagamore staff keeps them well fed and comfortable. The ladies take pictures, enjoy the call of the loons, and walk slowly on the careworn paths, enjoying every breath of fresh air.
At the end, around a fire, they toss worries and fears into the flames before heading home again. Smiles seem deeply imprinted on their faces, and the break from the routine, deep in the colorful forest, has again done its job. Sagamore represents what is possible for these women, and they are full of gratitude and joy when they leave.
Driving home after the retreat, the leaves on the mountainsides were even more beautiful than when we’d arrived. We were headed back north, full of smiles and gratitude ourselves. Our ancient mountains are full of possibility for those in need of healing. And as most agree, there are few among us who wouldn’t benefit from some sort of healing, some sort of respite from our busy lives. So take advantage of what is around you during this time of color and natural glory. Be sure to breathe in this clear autumn air, and be grateful for the grand autumnal beauty that surrounds us all.
Adirondack Arts and Healing retreats were established by the non-profit group, Creative Healing Connections, Inc. Sagamore Insitute of the Adirondacks, Inc. is dedicated to the stewardship of Great Camp Sagamore. For more information about events at Camp Sagamore or future Arts and Healing retreats: