Tom's Letter 8/2008

It’s truly mind-blowing to see how much we have evolved over the past 33 years from an international backpackers’ youth hostel into an eco-tourism destination. While we still welcome backpackers from all over the world, it has been our desire to steer the hostel in a “green” direction in order to teach our guests how to live in a more sustainable manner. To get us where we are today required the assistance of many capable individuals, who were willing to dedicate a lot of time and energy in making this a reality, and to them, we give eternal thanks.

No one has ever received any financial rewards from the hostel, and I want it to always remain a volunteer organization where people are not motivated by profits of a monetary nature. In order for the hostel to live in perpetuity, we are in the process of creating a 501© (3) charitable corporation that will own the hostel and the property presently surrounding it.

I am very happy with the present operation of the hostel and convinced we’re moving in the right direction. The feedback we receive from guests is incredible. This year we’ve had a spiritual retreat, an artist retreat, a yoga retreat, and all have been extremely successful. Even though we limit the number of guests who can visit the hostel, we have more reservations than we’ve ever had. We have a great manager, and the staff this year has been excellent. We are able to provide our guests not only with an invaluable learning experience, but also a healthy dinner, usually from our organic garden, along with sleeping in a tree house, all for a price of $20 a night.

No matter how much we do of a positive nature, we are still being plagued with developers buying property all around us. Fortunately, we were able to snag 19 acres on our eastern boundary next to the parking lot just before it became a large subdivision. This has caused us to have a sizable mortgage on the entire property for the first time in 20 years. But thanks to contributions from many of you, we have been able to timely make the monthly installments. There are other properties we need to purchase as soon as possible to avoid further development adjacent to the hostel property. To acquire these properties is an ambitious undertaking, insurmountable for the hostel to do alone. We have never asked for financial help from anyone since the beginning of the hostel, but to make this happen will require help from those who would like to make our dream a reality. If you feel a connection with the hostel and are financially able to make a contribution to help protect us by making our island larger, we would deeply appreciate your help. No matter how small or how large the gift may be, I will assure you that 100% of your contribution will go toward the purchase of land, not a cent on administrative costs and the like. You can make your contribution by sending a check, money order, or cash to The Hostel in the Forest, P. O. Box 1496, Brunswick, GA. 31521, U.S.A.

When most people remember their experiences at the hostel, they are usually pleasant ones, filled with joy and love for the place. They recall the wilds of nature, undisturbed by what most people refer to as civilization. It is vital that we protect these resources and natural habitat that have existed here for all these years. It must be managed and maintained as a healthy eco-system, one where natural flora and fauna can still thrive and mature, for it is this healthy natural environment that provides the sanctuary for the hostel spirit that must be protected at all costs. For without it, this refuge we all desire, as we search for an escape from a frantic world, would be lost forever.

Please continue sending us your love and light and good energy for the well-being of the hostel

May The Forest Be With You,

Tom