Conscious Camping With All the Conveniences of Home

Conscious Camping With All the Conveniences of Home

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by Diane Saarinen

Ever wanted to go camping but also wanted access to a warm bed, a microwave oven, and — oh yeah — a nice, hot shower? Well, now you can at Harmony Hill Retreat Center.

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My husband and I recently spent a week at Harmony Hill. We didn’t know quite what to expect when we made reservations to stay at one of their yurts in the woods of the Catskill Mountains in New York, about three-plus hours from NYC. We imagined that things were going to be kind of rustic for us. We were pleasantly surprised when, after co-director Chris Rosenthal met us at our yurt, we walked up to the surrounding deck and opened the French doors to discover beautiful pine floors and furniture with a clean, Scandinavian design.

Our immaculate yurt also had a fully-equipped kitchen, and a bathroom that I must admit was bigger than the one we have in our apartment at home! All this was quite literally capped off with a skylight that was five feet in diameter. Each yurt also comes with an outdoor barbecue grill, a fire pit, and a screened-in picnic table for bug-free dining. Now this is elegant camping!

Chris and her business partner, Jana Batey, had the idea for a retreat in the mountains about five years ago. Both women have inspiring stories to tell of forging new directions in midlife to follow their dreams.

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Aside from the unique housing, there is also a 44-foot labyrinth in a lush green meadow, not far from the yurts. Jana received certification as a labyrinth facilitator in Chartes, France at the Chartes de Cathedral. Chris lovingly cut the stones herself in this eleven-circuit labyrinth that is breathtaking to look at and lovely to walk. Ancient stone walls border the meadow, and a corn field is also visible, making for an idyllic location for such sacred geometry.If communing with nature isn’t enough, both women are trained life coaches. Services available include reiki, massage, yoga instruction, past life regression, farm tours, herb walks, and more. The yurts — there are two of them — can sleep four to five people, and there is a lodge that can accommodate more people if group workshops or, for example, a family reunion is planned. But you won’t have every modern convenience. There is no television, which I certainly did not miss.

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The setting in the Catskills is just gorgeous and lends itself well to not-so-long drives to explore neighboring towns. Places you’ll definitely want to visit while staying at the yurts include the Bibliobarn, a two-story barn of used books that my husband and I spent an hour and a half at, which is part of the Book Village of the Catskills. You may also want to try the Turquoise Barn for art, novelties, vintage clothing (ask Evelyn for ideas for day-trip driving!) and a heckuva good cuppa joe. And last but not least, check out Avalon Moon in nearby Delhi for all kinds of metaphysical goodies.

Needless to say, the hubby and I had a great time at Harmony Hill. Will we be coming back? You betcha!

A fall retreat is planned at Harmony Hill titled Facing Fearlessness: The Art of Seeing Nothing As Outside Your Self, September 28 – September 30, 2007. It will be given by Chris Rosenthal, M.S., LMHC, NCC. Go to www.harmonyhillretreat.com or call Chris at 607-278-6609 for more details.

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