Connections Youth Camp

On the WireConnections Youth Camp is an adventure-learning camp for active girls and boys. At Connections Youth Camp, we provide elementary and middle school children with a quality camp experience. We combine traditional camp activities with challenging exercise, project building, science, creative play, individual and team challenges, special events, skits, field games, hobbies, and TaekwonDo. Our mission is helping children to understand the complex connections between themselves and their world through exercising both body and mind. We teach individual and community responsibility in a fun and engaging environment.

Every summer, our themes change and new activities are added. Activities include, Adventure Pirates and Cannons week: we will play dirty dogs on Pirates Isle, fire a real Pirate Cannon, and storm the Pirate’s fort with water bombs and swords! It’s a week full of fun, games, swimming, and also some Pirate martial arts. Outdoor activities like, treasure hunting, tree climbing, an obstacles course, archery, natural art, and the upside down forest are also enjoyed by the campers!

During Adventure Hobbies, Science Hacks & the Natural World week, we present the real world off-line with special guest appearances and activities by Adventure Hobbies of Christiansburg, the Robotics Club, and the Chemistry Club. Adventure – Boot Camp is our Flagship session and a week that makes me extra proud of our kids. Campers can expect to be happy and tired by the end of the day because we have a Monster Obstacle Course which is twice the size of the one in 2014! By the end of the week, campers will be stronger, faster, smarter, and more confident. Throughout the year, the majority of a child’s time is spent in passive thrall of a computer or video screen.

We believe it is important to stimulate children to think critically, creatively, and to get them up and moving. Connections Youth Camp is a safe place for a child to test him or herself, to connect with others, and to discover just how amazing they really are! Connections Youth Camp has 26 acres in which to roam and play, with access to nearly 350 more acres. The camp includes a solar heated endless pool, 20’x25’ climbing wall, huge climbing trees, hanging tree-house, solar powered electric cart, solar hot dog cooker, SEAL inspired obstacle course, pirates isle, rocket sled, zip line, wood and metal shop, and the volvo tractor-trailer double-decker-cab club house with certified teachers, amazing guests, special events, and more…

Our staff includes licensed highly qualified teachers, a special educator, certified medical staff, Black Belt instructors, and special event leaders who are distinguished in their fields. Also, we are an American Camping Association member. About the Director Camp Connections was founded by Skip King who has 25 years of experience working with children of all ages. Mr. King is a Post Graduate licensed Special Education Teacher, Master of Special Education, Wilson Reading Instructor, TaekwonDo Black Belt instructor, and former industrial and exhibit designer. He founded and directed a highly successful adventure learning camp in Massachusetts where his skill at making learning fun brought profound results. Connections Youth Camp is located in Pilot, Virginia. Our camp day runs from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm with extended hours from 7:30 am and until 5:00 pm. For more information on our summer camps, party weekends or field trips, contact Skip King, 540.745.5075 or visit

Floyd Virginia Earth Day at the EcoVillage


earthdayinfloydvaFloyd Earth Day, May 3, 2014, at the EcoVillage 


Free fun and ecological activities for the entire family from 10AM till 3:30PM


Learn about raising chickens, organic farming, horse logging, composting, chain saw safety and more. Bring the kids to play in a gigantic bouncy caterpillar, wear hats and fly kites they make from newspapers, and find wonders on a little nature hike.  Eat locally grown foods and learn about lots of ecological happenings and businesses in Floyd.  Bring house plants, extra seedlings or garden seeds to swap. Bring tap water to test or troubled plants for a plant clinic or pick up some free local tree saplings.  Most of all, come to chat with and enjoy the company of lots of people who have experiences to share about living in the country, in tune with nature.  188 Eco Village Trail SE, (aka 718 Franklin Pike Rd SE), Floyd, VA 24091. Facebook: Floyd Virginia Earth Day or  Email  for more info.


FREE! FUN! Family Event! This Saturday!  Water testing, plant swapping, children’s activities, chicken whisperer, free tree give away – celebrate the earth in Floyd!

FloydJAMS a Music Program for Youth in Floyd Virginia

FloydJAMS – A Crooked Road/ JAM Program:

A Traditional Music Program for Youth Starts in Floyd

Floyd County students in grades 4 through 8 now have opportunity to learn the traditional music of the region in a new after school program at Floyd Elementary School. The program, FloydJAMS – A Crooked Road / JAM Program, is providing almost 80 students with instruction on fiddle, banjo or guitar from exceptional traditional music instructors on Monday afternoons.

The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM, Inc.) and The Jacksonville Center for the Arts have been working with Floyd County business and community leaders, educators, and school system representatives to create this new program for students. “We are so excited to be able to offer this opportunity to the students of Floyd County Public Schools” said Lisa Pluska, Director of Instruction with Floyd County Public Schools. “Floyd has such a rich heritage of music and for FloydJAMS to come in and partner with the school system to continue this tradition is a true blessing”.

FloydJAMS is modeled after offerings through Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM Inc), which has similar programs in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. “JAM Inc, has allowed us to tap into their years of experience and hard work and continues to assist us in creating our own version of a JAM program tailored for the Floyd community” says FloydJAMS Director, Heather Krantz. “It has been a dream of mine to help bring more music education programming here and The Crooked Road, JAM Inc, the Jacksonville Center and many other local folks and businesses have helped make that happen.”

The Jacksonville Center for the Arts is the Nonprofit Sponsor for FloydJAMS. “Through FloydJAMS, these students will have better access to opportunities to learn how to play a music instrument, which can have a positive lifelong impact in their lives, including their academic performance.”, said Jacksonville Center Director, John McEnhill.

The Crooked Road promotes economic development in Southwest Virginia by promoting the region’s unique heritage music. FloydJAMS is funded in part by The Crooked Road, the Appalachian Regional Commission, The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, The Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional Support has been provided by Mitchell Music Company, the Floyd Country Store, the D’Addario Foundation, The Blue Ridge Music Makers Guild, the Floyd Moose Lodge, Plenty!, Citizens Telephone Cooperative and several anonymous donors and area businesses.

Additional information about FloydJAMS can be obtained by emailing

Or by calling 540-230-0292

Floyd Amateur Radio Society (FARS) Test Session Oct 8th

FARS will host a Volunteer Examiner (VE) test session on October 8th at 10am.

While great strides are being made in certain areas –emergency preparedness, trained emerg. correspondence, security, education, and skills training– we still see (and hear about) struggles in the aftermath of disaster. New disasters occur from time to time, and there is a need for help for people, even in our own region.

The need for amateur radio communication is still great, especially in spotty cell phone coverage areas, power outages or in disaster.

If you would like to learn more about amateur radio, visit Amateur Radio Relay League‘s

In Floyd, training is ongoing by the folks of Floyd Amateur Radio Society (FARS), and the group has been approved for use as a testing site Floyd Rescue Squad, Station One, 452 Floyd Hwy N, Floyd VA 24091. FARS will host a Volunteer Examiner (VE) test session on October 8th at 10am.

This session will be for testing Technician, General, and Extra Class amateur radio operators. The session will be conducted by Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) VE’s, and the cost is $15.00.

Technician is the beginner class, it is a 35-question test that is rather easy to take and pass. The test questions are multiple-choice and cover frequency privileges, rules, operating techniques, and other elements which are required to operate amateur radio.

General is for the intermediate class operator, this is also a 35-question multiple-choice test.

Extra is the advanced license class for amateur radio. This is a 50-question test covering the rules, electronics theory, operating, and much more.

Did you know that there is no longer a requirement for Morse code related to amateur radio license? That’s right; you do not have to learn “code” to become a ham. If you had interest in amateur radio before but couldn’t get over the Morse code hurdle, now is the time to try again!

It is neither expensive nor difficult “electronics-wise” or “age-wise” to become involved. You may take the practice exams offered at, and other places online, for FREE. Another place to go to get started is at ARRL is the National league to better Amateur Radio and the advisory for laws affecting amateur radio.

If you have any questions, please call Russ Abbey KG4MAV, Secretary for FARS at 651-4072 or e-mail, or Tom King W4VZH, President of FARS at 745-7742 or e-mail They can help with LIVE training at Floyd Community Amateur Radio Station, at 201 East Main St., suite 9 of the Village Green, or they can provide study books ($23 ea.) and coordinate your learning and testing dates!

Fall Rabies Clinic, Floyd Virginia

September 24th – Fall Rabies Clinic – $12/pet
Sponsored by the Floyd County Humane Society

Various locations and times around Floyd County:

11 am-2 pm Blue Ridge Vet Hospital  436 Floyd Hwy N, Floyd
11 am-3 pm Willis Village Mart, 5602 Floyd Hwy S, Willis
10 am – Noon  Smith’s Grocery, 8470 Floyd Hwy N, Copper Hill
10 am – Noon  Simmons Grocery 4074 Webbs Mill Road N, Floyd

For questions, contact 540-745-5422, 540-745-7207 or

Note: To get 3-year rabies vaccine, pet owners must bring current certificate.
All dogs must be on a leash & cats must be in a carrier – not loose

Come Have a Doggone Good Time with the Floyd County Humane Society

Blue Mountain School Celebrates its 30th Birthday

This year, Floyd’s independent Blue Mountain School celebrates its 30th birthday.   School officials attribute its longevity to the pioneers who made the school what it is.
Back in 1981, when the school started, Floyd was a very different place. It was populated primarily by families who had resided here for more generations than many could count. But the preceding five to ten years had seen an influx of alternative people gravitating to the area, largely inspired by Edgar Cayce, who identified Floyd as one of the few safe places in the event of nuclear war.

These peculiar folk began having children and forming communities. When it came time for these children to get an education, many of these parents wanted to be more involved than what traditional schooling would allow.

One of the school’s founders, Luke Staengl, recollects, “Both of my boys had gone into the public school system and had fairly excruciating experiences. My oldest, Galen, needed more stimulation and intellectual challenge, as he was bored to tears. He couldn’t grapple with learning by rote. My youngest, Aaron, had pretty severe ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder; symptoms include inability to sit still, focus, pay attention, etc.

The condition that has afflicted children since the late 70s) and was pretty dyslexic. He wasn’t ready to read and write, and was having a problem relating to the worksheets his teachers kept giving him.

“I started thinking, ‘What is education about?’ Knowing both of my sons to be incredibly enthusiastic and curious, I thought we needed to create a venue for them to pursue their interests, and for them to be able to express their enthusiasm for life. They were both really avid learners, and we needed to create a situation that allowed them to excel.

“…I realized the only way to do this was to create a school. Home school was an option, but they needed social interaction. So I started calling around my friends, who were also beginning public school experiences, or were anticipating doing so. Pretty quickly, we lined up eight to ten people who were interested in forming the school. We started renting one farmhouse after another, as we tried to bring about the environment where the kids could explore their own curiosity and nature, and learn effectively at the same time.

“It’s been that way ever since, as far as I can tell.”

Katherine Chantal—who moved to Floyd partly because of the promise of Blue Mountain School—had five sons enrolled at one time back in the ‘80s.  She explains: “I wanted to be part of my children’s education, with like-minded people in the county, as I believed being involved in a child’s education was a better way than what the public school offered.

“I moved here for community, for being with people. I wanted to be in community—a spiritually-minded community—with my children, and to be actively, purposefully involved with them, from school to home to their spiritual upbringing.

“I believe this vision I had for my children was realized.”

The dreams that started Blue Mountain School were consistently humble ones like Chantal’s. Another founding parent, Tom Franko—who had four daughters attend the school—is very clear about this.

“I hoped my kids would come out believing that they were normal. My hope was that they would do well, without thinking there was anything exceptional about them. And it’s happened. They don’t feel like they’re owed anything. They don’t feel like they’re better than anybody. They’re honest. And I think that’s pretty good.

“I wanted to help create an environment for our kids that didn’t stifle them. Blue Mountain School provided that. In the early days, we were an extended play place. We made sure that the young kids had lots of time off. Then we got into the Waldorf thing, and ensured they played together. It was our dream that our kids extended their community, by being a community.”

Again and again, the people you talk to from Blue Mountain School talk about community. Tom’s wife, Jody, encapsulates this: “The word that comes to mind for me is ‘community’. Blue Mountain School was a community of kids of different ages. They were all out on the playground together, creating together. Nobody was pigeonholed, which allowed for broad discovery.

“Blue Mountain School was a time for discovery. When those kids transitioned to public schools, they really, really wanted it. Other kids were burnt out by fourth grade. But for Blue Mountain School kids, learning was desirable.
“The way it continues today, is that those kids recognize each other, and where they are. They’re bonded in a substantial way, so that it’ll last a lifetime.

“I’m just so thankful it’s still going on, and still has the same kind of energy from community members that it had when I was at the school.”

Staengl, Chantal and the Frankos are some of the founding parents at the school. But what about their children? Thirty years on, how do they feel their dreams are shaping up?

Franko’s daughter, Amara Franko Heller, sums it up well: “I have absolutely realized my dreams, and Blue Mountain School is where it all started. It had such a positive influence on my evolving intellect and human experience.”

Today, thanks to the efforts of so many families, Blue Mountain School is thriving. It has record attendance figures, as parents and students are drawn to its contemplative-progressive educational model. The fact that three of the past five valedictorians at Floyd County High School are the products of its environment is further testament to the school’s continuing success.
But still, the school has dreams. The school’s Director, Shelly Emmett, explains: “Immediate goals include attaining tax-exempt status and seeking accreditation through the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, both of which will ensure long-term sustainability and growth for the school and will elevate all of our operations to a new level of self-regulation and professionalism.”

Staengl—who is currently on the school’s board—goes even further, “The fact that Blue Mountain School is now more vibrant than ever; the people involved are all wonderful folks; and it has high attendance, is an amazing validation of the experience we had there.

“I’m dreaming on. I’m thinking that in the next two to five years, I want to participate in making an endowment for the school and ensuring that there is plenty of money to support all the wonderful things that are happening.
“I would love to see the school continue to grow and expand to include education through high school. It can be a place where kids can audit college classes and also interact with various trades and industries in the area, so by the time they leave Blue Mountain School, they’ll know totally what they want to do and where they want to go.

“That’s my ongoing dream for the school.”

Blue Mountain School will hold Open House on Saturday, May 21st from 1pm to 4pm. Registration takes place in late spring, and inquiries are welcome any time. Parents can contact the school at, or by phone at 540-745-4234, to register for next year’s classes. To learn more about the school, visit

Submitted by Jamie Reygle, Service Learning teacher at Blue Mountain School.  Jamie also writes a daily blog for

Luis A Garcia
Proprietor / Graphic Designer
FLOYD VIRGINIA publication
(540) 320 1045 –

This story was published in Floyd Magazine Spring/Summer 2011 ~Senior Editor Dee Wallace