Song of the Soul: Breathing the Rhythm of Nature

Southwest Sufi Community - Summer Camp July 28-August 2, 2015

Spiritual Director: Murshid Allaudin Ottinger with Murshida Darvesha MacDonald and Khalil Elliott

- Dances of Universal Peace, Zikr , Sufi Practices, Stories, Teachings and Meditation

- Nature Walks, Permaculture 101 Class

- Additional Local Teachers and Musicians will bring their creativity to Camp everyday.

Camp Director: Yaqin Sandleben, Camp Manager: Amos England

"When the Heart acts, it touches everything in the Universe” (Murshid Samuel Lewis)

Location: Voice of the Turtle Retreat Center, 1500 acres adjacent to the Gila National Forest on Bear Creek, located 17 miles outside of Silver City, NM. 

In the heart of the Gila Wilderness lies the Southwest Sufi Community, the soul of the Sufi Ruhaniat International. The 1500 acres of high desert land include cliffs, mesas, canyons and a year round creek. The land is mostly pristine and undeveloped creating a close to wilderness camping and retreat experience.  Come home to nature and share the amazing bounty of beauty, love, dancing, and teachings. Our focus on permaculture techniques and sustainable living and Ziraat gives this retreat a sublime relevancy. 

$245 early bird before July 1, $275 after July 1

Price includes camping site and three delicious vegetarian meals each day. (Limited indoor accommodations available. First come, first served with a $100 deposit.)

This is an intimate gathering. We dance together, camp together, eat together. We go on hikes and play in the creek. Enjoy nourishing vegetarian meals, communion with spirit, nature, and our amazing Sangha. Come share the experience of living together in the rays of love, harmony and beauty.

Contact: Registrar:  April Wikstrom at sscvoc@gmail.com

You may pay conveniently via PayPal. Just click the button, then enter your amount.

Please read on for more details and Registration Information~

Thank you for your interest in “Song of the Soul: Breathing the Rhythm of Nature.” 

The retreat will begin with dinner on Tuesday evening and will end after lunch on Sunday. Meals are provided through the kitchen of the retreat center and are served in the outdoor dining ramada.  All meals are vegetarian with alternative dishes for people with special dietary needs.

You are welcome to arrive any time on Tuesday afternoon and settle into your camping spot; either tenting or car camping. Please know that the land is mostly pristine and undeveloped. Because of the nature of the land, and because retreat facilities are spread over a distance, attendees must have a degree of physical fitness to walk the paths around the land. Also know that the final mile of road dropping down off the mesa and into the retreat center has been daunting to some drivers. Over the past few years major improvements have been made to the road including berming of the outside edge and removal of rocks in the road. Almost any front wheel drive vehicle can navigate the road during dry weather and most four wheel drive vehicles can navigate the road during rainy times. There will be a shuttle schedule established for those who do not care to drive down the final mile of road (sent in a follow up letter with more information to attendees).

As the retreat facilities are limited, so must be enrollment. You may secure your registration any time prior to June with a $100 dollar deposit, the remainder of the fee being paid by June 15th for the early registration discount price of $245, or $275 after that time, to be paid in full by the beginning of camp. Children may attend camp at the following costs: ages five and younger come free, ages six through ten at one third registration fee and ages eleven through eighteen at half the fee (depending on time of registration). A fee of $35 will be retained if canceling after July first. If space permits, you may attend a portion of the retreat at a cost of $75 a day (three meals). If interested in partial attendance, ask to be placed on a waiting list and you will be informed by July first if it’s possible. The cost of the camp is kept low by having all attendees participate in the daily running of the camp through “Karma Yoga” sign ups.

Please review the “Information and Guidelines” document below. If you have not attended a previous event at the SSC, and do not have a waiver on file, know that you will be asked to sign one upon your arrival at camp. Beyond the guidelines and waiver form, you will find the registration form. 

Looking forward to a most blessed time together!


MISSION STATEMENT: The Southwest Sufi Community serves as a rural khankah of caretakers, including families, couples/partners, individuals and young adults, on an inclusive spiritual path. Spiritual Training, Ziraat/ Permaculture, Sacred Dance and Walk, and the Healing Arts are primary concentrations. Acting from a global perspective, the Southwest Sufi Community invites guests from Sacred Cultures around the world to visit and share their wisdom. To promote understanding of the Sufi Message, the Southwest Sufi Community sponsors classes, workshops, retreats, and camps. 

DESCRIPTION: The Southwest Sufi Community (SSC) is comprised of three components: The Voice of the Turtle Retreat Center, The Khankah Noor Inayat Residential Community and the Nature Preserve which holds the majority of the 1500 acres of land. SSC is located in the high desert Gila Mountains, along approximately 2 miles of Bear Creek. Elevation ranges from 5200 feet along the lush riparian zones to the 5900 feet of the hilly pinon and juniper woodlands. The community is surrounded primarily by National Forest or state land adding to the seclusion of the SSC.

DIRECTIONS TO THE LAND: It takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour to drive from Silver City to the SSC. Take Hwy 180 West towards Gila at the Hwy 90/180 intersection traffic light by turning left if coming from Lordsburg, or right if coming from Deming. Turn right off Hwy 180 at the Bear Mtn Lodge sign (which is Alabama St./Cottage San Rd). This is right at the west edge of town. If entering town from the west along 180, keep an eye out for Alabama Street as you enter town and turn left. Go about 3 miles, until the pavement ends and the road forks, where you bear left. (The dirt road is not easy for wet weather travel unless you have a 4WD vehicle or chains.) Stay on the main traveled road (#853) bearing left, for about 12 miles. (Stay left at the road that has Rural Route #1090 and Gila Christian Ranch signs). TURN RIGHT at the Avery Ranch Road signpost. Go 1.8 miles slowly down a switch back road and enter the land through the green gates. Please close the gates. Drive on and drop down to the Retreat Center and park in the designated parking area.

1) ORIENTATION: If you are arriving for a retreat, please see the camp registrar, April Zahira Wikstrom at the adobe (2nd house on right) or at the retreat center. The registration table is located on the open porch of the Retreat Center, which faces due NORTH, and the creek side is EAST.

2) PARKING: When you arrive, proceed to the Adobe or the Retreat Center. It is OK to take your car to most of the Retreat Center accommodations and some of the camping areas to unload gear. The staff will then guide you to a permanent parking area.

3) COMPOSTING TOILETS: The closest toilets are located slightly uphill, southwest of the Retreat Center. Outhouses are in the South Meadow and vehicle camping areas.

4) DRINKING WATER: Spring drinking water is available by the Retreat Center from the spigots in the yard, or on the water table by the outside dining tables.

5) WATER WASHING STATIONS: These are located by the Retreat Center, by the composting toilets, and by the outhouses. If you are camping further away, do all your washing away from the creek.

6) SHOWERS: The showers are located in the Retreat Center building.

7) WADING IN THE CREEK: Water in Bear Creek is OK for wading, but not for drinking. During camps, an area for dunking and swimming in the creek is designated and, when appropriate, times for clothing optional dunking will be announced. Children must be supervised at all times while at the creek.

8) CAMPING: Please camp in the designated areas. a) Upstream to the South Meadow, on the left or right side of the road, or through the gate by the outhouses and back into the field, b) Near the retreat center, along the road to the South Meadow, c) Downstream across the creek by the orchard and Burial Garden area, d) The vehicle camping area located on the flat above the Retreat Center. PLEASE DO NOT CAMP ON THE SAND IN OR NEAR THE CREEK. Please follow wilderness camping guidelines: don't ditch around your tent as this can cause soil erosion; leave no trace of your campsite; pack out whatever you pack in; and don't leave trash for others to take out.

9) CAMP KITCHEN: The Head Cook and the Assistant Cooks are in charge of the kitchen during camp. The Beverage Person serves coffee from the kitchen porch before breakfast. Please ask for whatever you need of the kitchen staff and they will do their best to accommodate.

10) FOOD: This is a remote area and the potential for animals being drawn to your food is high. Outside, keep your food in your car with the windows up or tie your food in a tree, hanging away from the trunk. Do not throw food scraps around. Use the compost buckets.

11) SMOKING: Please smoke in the designated area at camp. It is important to be aware of the danger of fire on the land.

12) FIRES: Open fires are not permitted without approval. Please do not use incense, candles or open flame lanterns outdoors or when camping, unless it is a part of a ceremony or practice with prior approval. Incense and candles may be used indoors only when they are under the direct observation of an adult (person 18 years of age or older). April-June are usually dry months, so it is important to be especially careful with fire.

13) HUNTING/ FIREARMS: Firearms are not allowed and no hunting of any kind is permitted on SSC land.

14) WILDLIFE: Please respect any wildlife you may see or encounter. The extensive riparian area is home to diverse flora and fauna, with regular visits from migrating birds. Resident wildlife includes squirrels, chipmunks, lizards, deer, rabbits, quail, dove, blue heron, javelinas, foxes and coyotes, rattlesnakes, shy bears, and mountain lions.

15) PETS: Do not bring any pets to camps / retreats / visits.

16) DONKEYS: There are two donkeys on the land. Please watch out for them when you arrive. They are sweet animals and may seem tamer than they may act. Please keep a respectful distance from the donkeys.

17) SNAKES and INSECTS: We have mostly black-tailed rattlesnakes in the area. They are non-aggressive (yet still poisonous), and have a beautiful green and gold color with a diamond pattern on the back. They like closed-in spaces and in the late morning usually lay in direct sunlight. If you see a snake, please leave it alone and tell one of the Camp Managers or community participants where it was seen. Scorpions and kissing bugs are also present on the land. It’s a good practice to keep your tent zipped and to shake out your clothing and shoes prior to putting them on. Check your bedding in case either of these has nestled in. The Kissing Bug looks like a large watermelon seed with an elongated snout. Some people have adverse reactions to their bites.

18) CHILD SAFETY: Children are prohibited from the tool shed, barn, corral and any equipment room. Children may be in the community kitchen, a work-site, or within 100 feet of Bear Creek, only when accompanied by a supervising adult.

19) FIRST AID: Some herbal and other first aid supplies are kept in the utility room off the kitchen. “Universal Precautions” are followed as a part of first aid practices and health awareness. With incidents involving any blood spills, please ask Community Participants or Camp Managers for assistance.

20) MEDICAL EMERGENCY PROTOCOL: The SSC is rustic and remote. There is no doctor or nurse on the land. If necessary, it is the responsibility of all visitors, retreatants, and participants to seek their own medical treatment and treatment for minors in their custody. The nearest formal medical treatment is in Silver City.

21) PHONES AND E-MAIL: At present there are no public phones or public email options at the SSC. Some cell phones (primarily Verizon) may have service uphill from the main gate.

22) HISTORICAL/ ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES: Sites from the past may be found on the land and surrounding area. The sites may be noted and photographed but not disturbed.

23) SACRED SITES: The Maqbara area (Burial Ground) located across Bear Creek is considered to be specifically Sacred Ground. This area includes the Dargah of the Founder of the SSC, Murshid Moineddin Jablonski. All visitors and SSC Participants are encouraged to visit this area with the intention of seeking guidance as to the deeper meaning of the SSC Vision. There is a small retreat hut near the Dargah and if a personal retreat is in progress, please respect the privacy of the retreatant (at this site or any other area designated for a personal retreat) and keep a respectful distance.

24) WE ARE ALL GUESTS OF THE LAND: Visitors are invited to hike and explore while practicing Leave No Trace ethics. For the sake of safety, hikers are encouraged to go with a partner and must always inform another person at SSC where they intend to hike. Removing anything from the land, including pottery shards and plants, is not permitted. A core value of the community is respect for the sacred manuscript of nature, including the ideal of mindfulness and doing no harm to all living beings that share the land. 

Southwest Sufi Community/Voice of the Turtle Retreat Center

Agreement and Release of Liability

All Summer Camp Participants, by signing this Release of Liability, agree to read and accept all of the conditions of participation described in the Southwest Sufi Community Summer Camp Information and Guidelines, as well as to the agreements described below:

“I hereby expressly release the Southwest Sufi Community and the Voice of the Turtle Retreat Center, and all their directors, officers, staff and legal representatives from all and any actions, injuries or damages, suits and claims which I or my executors, legal representatives, or assigns may have or may hereafter arising from my presence on, or traveling to and from the premises of the Southwest Sufi Community/ Voice of the Turtle Retreat Center property located approximately 17 miles northwest of Silver City, New Mexico.

In signing this Policy Document I acknowledge that I have read the document(s) listed in the first paragraph and specifically the Liability Release Agreement contained here and that I accept all responsibility for actions and events that are a consequence of my presence or the presence of my guests or minor children on the SSC / Voice of the Turtle land.

I fully understand the wild nature and rural location of that land may represent elements and situations that I may not encounter in my everyday life, including, but not limited to:

Cactus spines and wild seed stickers, * Poisonous snakes, * Water hazards, * Wild animals in their natural habitat, * Rural unpaved roads, * Communications limitations, * Distance from medical facilities.

As a parent signing this Policy and Release document, I understand I am responsible for my minor children at all times during their presence on the SSC / Voice of the Turtle land.

I understand that signing this document creates an ongoing release to be kept on file and applicable to any future visits to the SSC / VOT land.”

Retreatant or name of your Child (below the age of 18)

____________________________________________________ (Name)

                                                                         (Signature) _________ (date)

Camp-Retreat Registrar: 

____________________________________________________ (Name)

                                                                         (Signature) _________ (date)

(Original to SSC; Copy to Participant / Retreatant / Visitor.)

Dennis Wilson,
Feb 8, 2015, 12:38 PM
Dennis Wilson,
Feb 8, 2015, 12:37 PM