Class of 2016: Opening Retreat


What happens when you take some of the most talented people in Frederick County to a place without cell service … two days in a row? When the Class of 2016 unplugged, they found a real connection.


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Our Time at Thorpewood

This year’s opening retreat was held at Thorpewood, an all “green” Eco-friendly retreat situated on 155 acres in the Catoctin Mountains near Thurmont. Owners Sam and Julie Castleman are LFC Graduates from the Class of 2004 and 2006. Thorpewood is beautifully decorated and environmentally clean – right down to the composting toilets in the bathrooms, of which derived good, clean humor. There’s a virtual tour, but nothing compares to a real visit.

Rain Gang

What’s a little water?

LFC Executive Director Rick Weldon (1998) and local author and leadership coach Scott Alexander led the class in an interactive, fun, and often challenging leadership session. The first day highlight was the adventure learning exercises facilitated by Allen Mullendore (2008). The current class broke into 3 groups, with 1 group of awesome classmates led by Linda Morgan (2014) completing all exercises in the pouring rain.

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Leaders on Loan

The second day, the class selected their Leaders on Loan projects and held their first group meeting.  The LOL mentors did a great job presenting the projects and facilitating selections. Instead of a free for all, they based the selection order on similarities between themselves and the class. Here’s how it went down:

  • Martha Hirschman (2011) is married to an LFC alumni. She invited anyone also married to an alumni to choose a project. Only Rob Collings, who is married to Betsy Collings (2007), had this in common.
  • Martha asked about involvement in community theater; only Seth Wilson had that commonality.
  • Ellen Keyser (2015) asked who was born and raised in Frederick County, and a whopping 15 people made a mad dash to select their projects.
  • Finally, just as hopes dwindled, Danny Vasquez (2015) asked who has eaten and liked Macaroni Grill. While the honesty Richter scale may have been slightly skewed, because classmates came out of everywhere to select their project, it was all in good fun.

Read more about this year’s Leaders on Loan projects.

A connection built to last

The retreat establishes a strong sense of camaraderie that enhances the value and experience of the rest of the class days. Participants always come away with new friendships and connections. These friendships and connections to others and for the program are what make Leadership Frederick County such a memorable experience. Leadership is about doing the right thing and the alumni prove that every time they come back to help another class on their journey.

“I am so jealous of you guys right now. I would do this every year if I could” – Danny Vasquez (2015)

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