Amongst our abundant natural resources in our local Catoctin Mountain, seekers will find tranquil treasure at ThorpeWood. ThorpeWood is a retreat nestled in the woods on Mink Farm Road in Thurmont. It boasts 155 acres of forests, meadows, an arboretum, wetlands, a stream, a timber framed lodge, a cottage, barn, pavilions, pond, and trails.
Additionally, there are six wedding-appropriate gathering sites on the property. ‘Mountain Memories at ThorpeWood’ is a company owned by Julie Castleman that manages facility rentals and provides programs, open houses, special events, and partnerships. While mainly providing non-profit entities an open menu of programs ranging from youth exploration and equine connection to camping and recreation, all users will find something at ThorpeWood through which to connect.
Sam Castleman has been called, “the heart and soul” of ThorpeWood. He serves as its President and Executive Director. In that role, he’s enjoyed a journey with ThorpeWood that started twenty-five years ago and has taken many directions much like the stream that flows through the property. Upon arriving at the property in 1995 with his BS Degree in Forest Management as a resource, he has nurtured it to become a place of safety, comfort, and growth. This path was sparked by his stepfather, the late Merle Thorpe, Jr., a securities attorney who owned ThorpeWood’s original 30 acres. Sam calls his work at ThorpeWood “sweetly rewarding.”
ThorpeWood is proud of its environmental support and preservation. For example, the lodge is constructed in an environmentally sensitive way using Earth-friendly insulation; re-purposed cupola windows that cause conviction currents to occur for ventilation; 300 year-old Chestnut construction; composting toilets that reduce water consumption by 90% and have no flushing action resulting in very little solid and liquid waste that is safely used to fertilize crops.
Designated acreage at ThorpeWood is used by the American Chestnut Organization to sustain the growth of American Chestnut hybrids. The Native American chestnut was prized for its use in furniture because of its beauty and durability. Unfortunately, the trees were subject to blight and substantially died out. The hybrid program crosses the Chinese with the American chestnut seeking only 10% of Chinese mix to combat the blight. This is an ongoing project.
ThorpeWood now has ten horses in its equine program, nine of which are Islandic. The equine program is used by the Frederick County Head Start program. Horses are known to be reliable teachers of communication and they help people connect with nature.
There’s an actual farm at ThorpeWood with horses, goat, beaver, cow, fox, and hounds. Time is spent connecting with nature, building forts, and conducting business while folks from Camp Johnny, Camp Jamie, FCPS leadership, Leadership Frederick County, St. John Catholic DSS, area scouts, church groups, and retreats utilize the property.
Please note that ThorpeWood is not a park. It’s not open all the time, but you can catch up with the happenings at ThorpeWood by visiting www.thorpewood.org, signing up for ThorpeWood’s newsletter, or catching a blog. Call 301-271-2823 for more information.
Program participants are always happily curious at ThorpeWood.