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A person's experience at an ASL & Life retreat

Language and Life Enhancement Retreat:
Walking Off the Beaten Path

Kayser Ridge Retreat and Learning Center
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

April 23-25, 2010

Website: Kayser Ridge

Imagine a house on top of a hill so high, you have to be
a brave soul to get your car to the top of the gravel road.
If you’re a woos like me, you get halfway up, slow down
for the curve and either hear or feel the tires skid. Hopefully,
you’ll have enough sense to stop the car, pull on the brake
handle and hope the owner sees you, especially after you
tried your mobile phone to call him and, of course, you
have no service.

That was my beginning. Cliff Kayser, the owner of Kayser
Retreat and Learning Center, came to my rescue by waving
his arms so I’d see him. He offered to drive the car up for
me and after backing down the hill, he swiftly drove it to the
house where Deborah Mayer and Carole Lazorisak were waiting for us to arrive.

The setting was divine. Kayser Ridge is located in Berkeley
Springs, WV and offers space to experience physical,
emotional, intellectual and spiritual development — to tap
the highest individual and collective potential. The house is
surrounded by woods, has a covered porch in case of rain
and a huge open deck. Cairns, carefully and artistically
arranged piles of rocks (see above picture), were scattered
around the property, with one sitting in the middle of the
deck table and several others on the railing.

The weekend retreat had a twofold purpose: in a safe,
peaceful, non-judgmental setting, surrounded by nature,
we were to define specific goals to enhance not only our
lives but our use and knowledge of ASL. By the end of the
weekend, we were to make specific commitments on steps
we would take to reach those goals.

“We” were five participants, four hearing and one deaf. Carole
and Deborah served as facilitators to help us dig deep, since
if we could achieve the goals, they could lead to changes both in our lives and our ASL use. If it sounds like a major
undertaking, it was. But Carole is a certified Sign Language/
Interpreter Master Mentor and Deborah is a certified Life
Coach. Their unique synergy, along with their superb
facilitation skills, provided us with a huge array of hands-on
exercises to help us find our way.

The theoretical foundation of the weekend was the work of
the Russian psychologist, Lev Vygotsky. The agenda
included all kinds of activities to help us explore areas of a
Vygotsky Wheel of Life and another Wheel filled with the
components of ASL. The wheels gave us a visual format to
help us figure out what parts of our lives needed attention.
Did we yearn for more education? Deeper social relation-
ships? More knowledge of ASL semantics? Linguistics?

As we shared our desires, we were aware that each of us is
unique, has our own ‘take’ on the world and how important it
is to keep an open mind about what others see when we are
all looking at the same thing.

Carole and Deborah gave us two ASL Mentoring and Life
Coaching sessions tailored to help us define and take steps
towards our specific goals. In the group sessions as well,
they were our navigators, gently guiding us so we could
define our own journeys and define the roads to get us there.

For many of us, just watching and absorbing Carole,
Deborah and the deaf participant’s native ASL use, was
a treat all by itself. (That included no talking to the owner,
Cliff. If we wanted to say something to him, we would
have to go through Deborah and she would be our
interpreter.) Mostly, however, all we wanted to say to
Cliff was “Wow! What an awesome meal.” A huge grin
with a ‘thumbs up’ was all we needed!

Doing it all in ASL gave us a profound appreciation of the
richness of the language. It’s impossible to describe the
many activities we did together, all in ASL, for the entire
weekend! As an added bonus, CEUs are provided.

If this has whetted your appetite for a stimulating, yet
relaxing, rejuvenating and inspiring weekend retreat,
visit Crossroad Solutions Coach or you can contact
Deborah Mayer at
Carole Lazorisak at:

If you want more specifics, contact me at

Judy Jonas
New Jersey

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