The Walden Experience
at Highland Lake Cove

Aiming to “front the essential facts of life,” Henry David Thoreau turned to nature, solitude and simplicity and found that “in wildness is preservation of the world.” A century and half later — in the era of Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter — his words and deeds offer lessons on designing a life well-lived.

The Walden Experience at Highland Lake Cove is part retreat, part hands-on redesign, and completely based on one of our favorite Thoreau quotes: “Things do not change; we change.” Experience Thoreau’s words in much the same setting as he wrote them — in solitude and nature. Engage with the simple, yet deeply meaningful activities that helped awaken Thoreau — baking, reading, sauntering, contemplation, even building. In this redesign we take to heart Thoreau’s idea that “wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”

something here about the benefits of intergenerational learning

Join us for this 3-week retreat on our Living Arts Campus:

Mindful Baking

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Natural Building

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Creating a More Beautiful World

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Woodworking

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Tiny House Building

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Woodfired Cooking

Our garden and outdoor cooking spaces provide an alternative classroom, as well as space for unique interactions, community building, and foods that best anything found in a campus dining hall. We routinely host a “Life of Pie” event around pizza-making in our cob oven, teach bread making, and provide hands-on honey harvesting and tasting.

Garden Fresh Ingredients

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Group Processes

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Contemplative Practices

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Carl Sandburg Home

A “Poet of the People”, Carl Sandburg provided a popular voice for the American people of the twentieth century and still speaks to us through his words, songs and the beauty and serenity of Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.

The park is located on 264 acres in western North Carolina, just a three-minute drive from Highland Lake Cove. Visits to the site can include a tour of the Sandburg Home, hiking on over 5 miles of trails, visiting the farm and dairy goats, and much more.

Triple Falls, DuPont Forest

Triple Falls in DuPont State Recreational Forest offers a unique opportunity to stand (or even have a picnic) in the middle of waterfall! A level rock surface allows plenty of room to safely enjoy the views and cascading water.

After enjoying the view of all three cascades from the main trail, take the staircase down to the flat rock plateau between the falls. It’s a great spot to sit and soak it all in.

Thomas Wolfe House

Considered by many to be one of the giants of 20th-century American literature, Thomas Wolfe immortalized his childhood home in his epic autobiographical novel, Look Homeward, Angel.

Wolfe’s colorful portrayal of his family, his hometown of “Altamont” Asheville, North Carolina, and “Dixieland” the Old Kentucky Home boardinghouse, earned the Victorian period house a place as one of American literature’s most famous landmarks.

Retreat Schedule

Week 1:

Begin with getting to know each other, group decision making processes, NVC, sociocracy, etc.

shallow taste of each mindful activity (baking, woodworking, TH building, etc.)

Week 2:

If more than 1 cohort of 15, they can divide for a deep dive into chosen activity for week 2.

Week 3:

start to prepare for reemergence, dyads, etc.

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