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Who We Are

River Mountain's Monday morning meetings are the best part of my week.

Coffee in hand, Meg, Glenn, Brandon, and I catch up on our weekends, discuss projects from the week before, and plan the week ahead. The ‘catching up’ part this week took the most time -- football games, a cross country meet, choir performances, soccer matches, the end of one fall break, and the start of another. Then it was on to discussion of our upcoming blog schedule...

The good news -- we have a ton of great content about our retreat. The bad news -- I drew the first assignment... which means I’m responsible for explaining Who We Are -- which suddenly seems kind of difficult.

It's hard to convey our team’s passion about screen-time issues, healthy tech habits, our wonderful partners like Penn State and Leave No Trace, our breathtaking location in central PA, and the awesome River Mountain team. More than hard, actually. Impossible.

We are a group of parents, aunts, and uncles to 16 kids, all between the ages of 8 (Iris - Brandon’s daughter) and 18 (North - Glenn’s son). Like all parents from our era, we've been in the thick of technology issues with our kids since the introduction of tablets and smartphones in 2008. Since that time (my oldest son, Will, was 3 then), everything has changed for kids and parents. Everything. It hasn't been easy, and as every parent knows, it can be exhausting.

River Mountain Retreat Fishing with the Boys
My two boys. Hayes (12) holding fish; Will (14) dodging fish.

At the heart of the tech problem is persuasive design -- Big Tech companies using sophisticated, habit-forming tactics in the development of the apps and games from which our kids can’t seem to disconnect...

So what do we do about it? How do we deal with this monumental shift? We know tech companies won’t stop. It’s their business model to keep kids glued to apps, games, and screens for as long as possible. They don’t have to deal with the parenting side -- so we speculate that they may just not care...

River Mountain Retreat is our answer to ‘What do we do about it?’.

Born of our own families’ struggles with finding life/tech balance, River Mountain Retreat offers a way for young people to engage the issues surrounding the use of technology. Teachers can lecture a child about technology in a school setting, but until you remove them from their phone and get them outdoors, we’ve learned that it’s unlikely to sink in. Lasting, impactful change is what we’re looking to create -- and it’s the reason we’ve chosen Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains as our location. We love the outdoors, and outdoor adventure -- and we want to make sure your kids can experience the outdoors, and the lasting effects of replacing a screen with real adventure.

Given the time, tools and setting to think critically, young people can become more self determined and create healthier tech habits. We know this is true for our own children, and we believe this is true for all young people. Our job at River Mountain is to help each young person by giving them the tools to improve their focus, communication skills, and health -- just as we do with our own.


“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” - John Muir

Becca G – Faces of River Mountain

By Meghan | April 1, 2020

Meet Becca Gurney, Founder of Design Choice, a boutique graphic design studio in Washington, DC. Becca and her team work with progressive clients to make the world a better place, by encouraging entrepreneurial endeavors, advancing social justice and women’s causes, and supporting women in leadership positions. She’s also the creative genius behind our print designs and an absolutely awesome human.

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National Day of Unplugging

By Meghan | March 5, 2020

Tomorrow is National Day of Unplugging. Take time to unplug from your phone and reconnect with each other and the world around you at River Mountain Digital Wellness Retreat!

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Field Trips at River Mountain

By Ryan | February 11, 2020

River Mountain’s school programs teach screen time management and digital citizenship to help students flourish in school and at home.

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The Benefits of Camp

By Ryan | February 6, 2020

There’s a lot of great research about the benefits of camp experiences for young people. Over the past 12 months, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several of those researchers, including our own team member Pete Allison from Penn State, and I’m grateful for their work establishing a greater understanding of camps’ impacts on child development.

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Restorative Vision – Nature and Wellness Retreat Design

By Meghan | February 3, 2020

Every element of River Mountain Retreat is intentionally designed to add to the restorative experience of our guests. One key aspect of this is in the design of our cabins and wellness retreat facilities.

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Summer Camp near Washington D.C., Yet a World Away

By Ryan | January 17, 2020

Conveniently near Arlington County, Montgomery County, and Fairfax County families, River Mountain summer camps are ideal for DC parents’ busy schedules.

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Best Summer Camp for Active Pittsburgh Kids

By Ryan | January 9, 2020

Only 2 hours away from the Steel City and featuring all the outdoor activities that kids love, River Mountain is the best summer camp for active Pittsburgh kids.

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A Decade of Technology

By Meghan | December 31, 2019

Looking back on the past decade of technology – rapid developments, rapid adoption and rapid optimization. It all happened so fast.

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Reconnecting Over the Holidays

By Meghan | December 20, 2019

As a parent, the holidays are hectic. Parties, presents, and of course, the kids being off from school. With all of the running the season brings, it’s easy to forget that this is a time of year where we can pause, exhale, and find joy in what surrounds us.

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The Benefits (and Accessibility) of Nature

By Ryan | November 23, 2019

A lot has been written in recent years about the “benefits of nature” — fantastic books like Florence Williams’ The Nature Fix and ground breaking research like the work being done by Utah professor David Strayer.

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Upcoming Camps