Hi, friends, I’m looking into going to either Wildacres or William
Holland this summer to take a beginning facetting class. As far as I
can tell, the classes are offered by the same federation, though
things are handled a bit differently. Is anyone familiar with either
(or both) of these schools? Can you help me pick one? Which is more
beautiful? How good are the teachers? How’s the food? I confess I was
a bit disconcerted by the pictures from W.H.-- the people looked to
have an average age in the mid- to upper-sixties. Anyone been? Please
help me out! Thanks! Noel
Hi, friends, I’m looking into going to either Wildacres or William
I have taken a couple of classes given at Wildacres and would vote
for there if the classes were equal. The setting is wonderful on top
of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Fantastic location for classes, run by
wonderful people. Good facilities, good food, good bed. What more
could you ask for!
A friend of mine, the president of our local gem club, teaches at
both places, so I asked him to answer your questions. Here is what he
had to say:
Jim, I’ll try to address the questions raised about Wildacres and
William Holland. I will be glad to answer additional questions if
anyone wants to call me–423 247 6608. I am teaching a combination
beginning faceting, beginning intarsia class at Wildacres in April
and September. This is a new class. I am teaching beginning
faceting at William Holland one week and intarsia two weeks. The
William Holland classes are non federation weeks.
Wildacres is a retreat, William Holland is a Lapidary School.
Wildacres has five weeks devoted to lapidary classes each year
(three Southeastern Federation, two Eastern Federation) plus one or
two seeks devoted to the Florida Goldsmiths. From opening in April
to closing in November, William Holland is a Lapidary School–with
two weeks devoted to the Southeastern Federation. I’m not sure
about any other weeks being devoted to another organization. I have
heard some folks describe the difference between the two as
"Wildacres is a summer camp for adults, William Holland is a
lapidary school". Keeping that in mind, and that the quality of
instruction is about equal, I’ll address specific questions.
Which is more beautiful? Wildacres! The view from the porches and
terrace at Wildacres are really beautiful!!! Wildacres is at 3300
feet and on a low peak. Wildacres is less than a mile from the Blue
How’s the food? The food is usually better at Wildacres.
Breakfast at Wildacres is definitely better.
How good are the teachers? Quality of teachers is about the same.
I have a lot more experience at Wildacres and know that some
teachers are better than others, but a poor teacher is extremely
rare. I have less experience with William Holland, but know that
many of the teachers there also teach at Wildacres. Some William
Holland teachers also teach at John C. Campbell.
My only comment on the age of the folks who attend is that I think
the average age of students during non federation weeks at William
Holland is lower than during the federation weeks at either place.
I hope this helps you!
Small Wonders Lapidary
i have been going to wildacres for the eastern federation sessions
since 1990. i highly recommend it. the only requirement is
membership in an eastern federation club or one of the other
federations. (joining a club is easy and inexpensive. if you are in
florida, i can help you find the closest eastern club, but there may
also be a southeast club near you.) the faceting instructors, reivan
zeleznik in the june session and steve weinberger in the sept.
session are both excellent teachers and every student produces a
beautiful faceted stone. in addition we have a number of other
activities such as a guest speaker who gives five talks during the
week, a free day to visit local rock shops and other attractions, a
tailgate session, a benefit auction, a “sharing time” to learn about
other aspects of the hobby and the last night is fun night. In june,
our guest speaker is Bob Jones, editor of rock and gem magazine. In
september Steve Chamberlain, noted NY state mineral collector and
co-chairman of the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium, will be the
guest speaker. for more details, check the website and feel free to
contact me off list. in june, i will again be teaching PMC and
i know a lot less about william holland and the southeast sessions
at wildacres and william holland, and I am sorry but I am not
familiar with any of the faceting instructors. william holland i
believe is generally open to the public, but here is their website:
The southeast federation of mineralogical societies requires
membership in a mineral club in southeast or one of the other
federations in the american federation. the websites for their
one of the main differences between eastern and southeast federation
sessions is that in eastern, we have a lot of different activities
and the guest speaker. from what i understand, the southeast
sessions focus much more narrowly on learning the craft and they
spend more time in class. food is family style at wildacres and is
generally pretty good. rooms are doubles with a private bath. I
think william holland is somewhat more rustic, but i have no
personal experience with it. i think you will find that the average
age of participants in both places will lean to the grey hairs. when
we joined at 40 and 48, we were referred to as “the youngsters”!
good bunch of people though and lots of experience. good luck and
Noel, I went to Wildacres a few years ago, and would LOVE to go
again. You are talking about the one sponsored by Florida Society of
Goldsmiths in June, right?
And I suppose your taking Michel Dyber’s class? The faciaties are
very good, the setting is spectacular…way up in remote mountains,
nothing nearby for an and hour any way. the food is somewhat
holistic, or homemade, at least and good. Nice dining room/lodge,
Great camaraderie among students and instructors. We had a
auction/party near the end I will never forget.Still keep in touch
with a few friends made there. I miss it and want to take the same
class, but can’t this year.
All the best
Noel - my 12 year old daughter and I went to a Southeastern
Federation class at Wild Acres last April. Note, I did say my
daughter was 12! We LOVED it, and were very upset when they did not
schedule this April’s class for her spring break week! We asked
people last year about the difference between Wild Acres and William
Holland, and in addition to what has already been posted, we were
told that William Holland is more rustic, food is served cafeteria
style and not quite as good, no scenery, but some bears ! Wild
Acres serves food by the table, very good, lots of choices, flexible
for special diets (whatever their reason!), great scenery, very
This year I am doing the April Wild Acres on my own (which I hate -
my daughter and I have a grand time together!), then we are going
together to William Holland in June. Both are Southeastern
Age wise my daughter at 12 was, hands down, the youngest ! The
next youngest I would judge to be in thier twenties (2 ladies, not
together). Then my middle-aged 40’s self. And up. None of which
mattered, as my dd’s best friend made during the week was a wonderful
gentleman in his late 50’s or early 60’s! Age really and truly
didn’t matter, and I think that in and of itself is wonderful!
We got up, had breakfast and a short break, then class until lunch
time, then lunch, then class until late afternoon, then a short
break, then supper. I think there was a program of some sort most,
if not every, evening (that middle-aged memory loss at work ).
One afternoon was free to do as you wished (we went to a wholesale
gem supplier nearby and shopped!). The last afternoon was to help
clean up your workspace and get the instructor’s gear loaded (they
donate their time). The last night we had a “show” of everyone’s
work that was really wonderful, and each class got up and had a
designated person tell about what they had done. This was really
great! Two nights I remember we had auctions to help with costs,
and one night a very interesting film on mining Lapis Lazuli.
I highly recommend membership in a gem and mineral society - great
people, chance to learn new things, and some have good field trips
and local classes.
Beth in SC
Hi Jim, Please pass along a thanks to Tom for the about
the schools. I have also wanted to go and am thinking about this
summer. I have heard wonderful things about Willdacres too. Perhaps
I’ll see some of you there!!! Feeling like spring in Ct. Helen
I’ve gone to WildAcres through FSG twice. The place is absolutely
beautiful, the rooms are very comfortable and it is so wonderful to
be with folks that are all interested in the same things.
But: The food is not good, take a cooler with fruit and water!
Perhaps there are different cooks for different organizations? The
first time I was there we had tuna barbecue sandwiches for lunch. I
was sick for two days afterwards, and I only had a couple bites. Last
year apparently the food budget was even smaller. But I brought my
own granola cereal and fruit the second time, so it was survivable.
But you definitely want to bring your own healthy foods!
Wow - obviously a difference in cooks at Wildacres!! When we were
there the food was fine. Not always what I would have liked, but
they worked with me to be sure I had something I could eat (food
allergies); they always had choices including vegetables and fresh
fruit; no one got sick; and it was in general fine. Not gourmet, but
fine. We were there last year. When were you there Barbara, and was
it the same cook each time?
I DO take healthy snacks with me, as I have blood sugar issues and
need to eat more often than scheduled mealtimes.
Beth in SC
Take your own fruit and granola!
June, 2002 and June, 2003.
Of course, everyone has a different idea of what is good food and
what isn’t! However, the main thing I wanted to get across was that
you should really take some stuff to have in your room. It’s pretty
far to the nearest store. I didn’t know that (the distance and the
not so hot food) the first time, and no one warned me, so I wanted to
do that for someone else.
If you ever meet me, you’ll immediately see that fine food is rather
important to me! LOL! (And if you ever in Ft. Lauderdale, let’s go
to Rino’s so you can taste what I consider good food!)