News & Views
Photo of Sandwich Village by Joe Janis
What are your names?
Peggy and Bob MacArthur, Birch Corner Associates
How did you get to Sandwich?
After two decades in the Midwest, we returned to New Hampshire in 2004. Having spent fourteen years raising our family in Hanover and exploring many of the state’s peaks, trails and tributaries during our days with Outward Bound, we were happy to return to the land that is home to our spirits.
While in St. Louis Bob served as president and CEO of the American Youth Foundation, a national youth development organization. Camp Merrowvista in Tuftonboro is one of AYF’s program centers, and over the years Bob made many trips east to oversee the expanding program and renovations to its facilities. It was during those trips that friends introduced us to Sandwich.
Why the name of your business?
Exploring the land while our home was being built, we were drawn to one corner formed by the intersection of two rock walls. We found the woods contain a preponderance of birch trees. Many are beyond mature, bearing the wrinkled bark of decades and the scars of the 1998 ice storm. Nearby, younger birches grow strong and supple with the skin of youth. An author we read at the time opined that the symbolic quality of birch trees includes “cleansing of the past, new beginnings and vision quests.” True or not, the attributes resonated, and we embraced the name as emblematic of our work in this chapter of life.
Tell us about your business.
Birch Corner is a coaching practice that helps clients identify, claim and amplify their purpose in life. We work with nonprofit leaders and boards, small business owners and individuals who are seeking greater fulfillment in life or have momentarily lost their direction and/or traction.
Bob has worked with several organizations facilitating the creation of their strategic plans and conducting developmental sessions with senior leadership teams and boards. Regional examples include Geneva Point Center, Green Mountain Conservation Group, Project Adventure, Kimball Union Academy, the NH and VT chapters of The Nature Conservancy, Squam Lakes Conservation Society, Proctor Academy, and the Sandwich Children’s Center.
In 2008 we helped launch the Touched By A Horse coaching certification program (www.touchedbyahorse.com) and have been principal coaches, facilitators and supervisors ever since. TBAH is a two year course for students who are studying and practicing to apply gestalt principles and methods in partnering with horses to engage clients. Peggy continues to mentor the coaches of these programs and makes several trips to Colorado each year for 3-5 day experiential workshops involving the students and the horses. Several graduates of the program continue to seek Peggy’s coaching.
What happened to your business this last Covid year?
Our work with individuals and some organizations continued virtually and was pretty much uninterrupted. Peggy and her colleagues at Touched By A Horse maintained weekly classes. In-person workshops were postponed and have subsequently resumed in the spring of this year.
What got you started in this profession?
Earlier personal and professional experiences shaped the building blocks for our current work. Each of us experienced the disciplines, successes and defeats of competitive athletics - Peggy as a nationally ranked ice dancer and Bob as a varsity athlete in college.
Each of our professional lives has been characterized by a sense of vocation to support others in developing their potential and their emotional and spiritual health. Peggy spent a decade in human resources at Energizer’s world headquarters in St. Louis. In addition to raising our family while at Energizer, she earned her MSW degree at Washington University and acquired her LICSW license for both Missouri and New Hampshire. Her family therapy practice in Moultonborough and Wolfeboro anchored Birch Corner Associates, as we launched our coaching business.
After attending seminary, Bob spent two years as Episcopal chaplain at Dartmouth. He recognized that his vocation was not to parish ministry but a broader calling to build community and help others attain their goals. In addition to chaplaincy roles, Bob’s formal leadership experience includes directing the Dartmouth Outward Bound Center for twelve years and for nineteen years serving as President and CEO of the American Youth Foundation.
Goals for the future?
As long as we are able, we plan to continue offering our services to those who benefit, while enjoying the blessings of life in this community. We also keep in mind our ties to the land, inspired by Robert Frost’s wisdom related to birches and aging.
…So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over…
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Peggy and Bob MacArthur
Birch Corner Associates
PO Box 269, Ctr. Sandwich
10/31/2021 01:18:17 am
What a glorious photograph of your community! And what an absolutely beautiful article honoring Peggy and Bob MacArthur. Bob was the curate at St. Thomas Church in Hanover when I was Patricia-Anne Hillman Gill, the wife and later, the widow of Milton Gill, chairman of Dartmouth's music department who died in the plane crash on Moose Mountain in 1968. Bob and Peg went to any lengths to sustain me then and still do. Indeed, though I've moved to CA and taken back my maiden name, they've been good friends ever since. Thanks so much for your good work on this most complete article about them.
11/11/2021 06:47:11 pm
Truth is stranger than fiction, they say...and occasionally more inspiring and satisfying. Your lives show what people are capable of when they are moved to action. We haven't met, but "my girlfriend' Betsey has high priase and affection for you,
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