Friends Wilderness Center is a place of peace and tranquility within a unique 1400-acre wilderness preserve and spiritual sanctuary on the western side of the Blue Ridge in Harpers Ferry, W.V. Website: friendswilderness.org.
Preserved by Quakers for “perpetual spiritual use,” Friends Wilderness Center (FWC) offers restorative peace and tranquility. Since 1974, FWC has provided access to the 1,500-acre Rolling Ridge wilderness area in West Virginia.
FWC hosts the China Folk House Retreat (CFHR): a project to promote empathy, cross-cultural understanding, and experiential learning by rebuilding a Tibetan-style farmhouse saved from inundation in the village of Cizhong in Yunnan Province, China. The project is building an ADA compliant bathroom to expand access to restoration in nature.
Work to update and expand the center’s facilities is ongoing; recent projects include restoring the treehouse, improving accommodations in the geodesic dome, furnishing and heating a 16-foot-diameter glamping tent for four-season use, and renovating Niles Cabin with the intention of hosting overnight guests.
FWC offers monthly programs and guided hikes exploring the miles of trails that meander around mountain streams and waterfalls between the Appalachian Trail and the Shenandoah River. This year, FWC has offered monthly yoga hikes (Hike-Asana) and drop-in viewing for meteor showers throughout the year.
Friends Wilderness Center (FWC) shares stewardship of the 1,400-acre Rolling Ridge wilderness area in West Virginia, preserved by Quakers for “perpetual spiritual use.” Since 1974, FWC has served as “a place of peace and tranquility” in troubled times of war, systemic racism, environmental crisis, and now a global pandemic. During the pandemic, FWC continues to offer monthly guided hikes on the miles of hiking trails that meander around mountain streams and waterfalls between the Appalachian Trail and the Shenandoah River. FWC is working on renovations to the Niles Cabin in anticipation of welcoming guests back to the cabin after pandemic restrictions are eased. FWC continues to serve those who seek access to the beauty and solitude that the Blue Ridge forest provides as a much-needed opportunity for peace and renewal in times of uncertainty, transition, and social isolation.
FWC hosts the China Folk House Retreat (CFHR, ChinaFolkHouse.org) on the property. CFHR preserves a farmhouse from the village of Cizhong, Yunnan. This house was disassembled and is now being re-assembled on the FWC property. Construction of the bathhouse and kitchen are expected to be completed in time to support programs this summer.
Friends Wilderness Center (FWC) is a 1,400-acre wilderness preserve on the western side of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Harpers Ferry, W.V. It was established by Quakers in 1974 for “perpetual spiritual use.” FWC offers a variety of scheduled events, including guided hikes, meditation, and journaling in nature. Also offered are opportunities to hike and explore, camping, and overnight stays in Niles Cabin (guest bedrooms and shared bath with home-cooked meals).
After 22 years at FWC, Sheila Bach retired as general manager, and is moving to Friends House in Sandy Spring, Md. Kimberly Benson is the new general manager, and she brings many gifts to the position. She and her family took up residence at Niles Cabin this past summer.
In the summer of 2019, FWC welcomed the China Folk House Retreat (CFHR) to the property. CHFR preserves a farmhouse from the village of Cizhong, Yunnan, that would have been inundated by a dam on the Mekong River. This house was disassembled and is now being reassembled on the FWC property. CFHR is dedicated to fostering cultural and educational exchanges between the United States and China, and to providing a site for exchange and education for students of all ages across the greater Washington, D.C. area.
Friends Wilderness Center (FWC) shares stewardship of the 1,400-acre Rolling Ridge wilderness area in West Virginia preserved by Quakers for “perpetual spiritual use.” Since 1974 FWC has served as “a place of peace and tranquility” in troubled times of war, systemic racism, environmental crisis, and now a global pandemic.
The China Folk House Retreat (CFHR) partnership offers an inspiring example of collaboration. Volunteers from the Sidwell Friends School community in Washington, D.C., saved the traditional Tibetan farmhouse from inundation by a dam and formed a nonprofit to rebuild it at FWC. In 2019, student volunteers joined local builders to raise the house’s timber frame, and this summer built its enclosing walls. CFHR now links FWC to a culturally and spiritually diverse, agrarian, riverside community half-way around the world.
Rebuilding demands flexibility and perseverance. When the original rammed-earth walls didn’t meet local building codes, hempcrete provided an innovative, environmentally sustainable alternative. And, when the pandemic jeopardized plans for experiential learning this summer, teens opted to voluntarily isolate for 14 days before joining quarantined work crews who built the largest hempcrete wall in North America. The project is infused with their energy, enthusiasm, and spirit. More information about CFHR is available at chinafolkhouse.org.