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in a nature immersive setting


For whatever reason you are yearning for a break from the normal routine, schedule a weekend getaway disconnect to reconnect.


star-gazing in one of the LAST LIGHT POLLUTION FREE ZONES in the state of Tennessee

In this nature immersion experience where the phone won't work well, there's no TV, and the wifi is easy to ignore, you can really settle in to a slower pace to reconnect to your inner self and each other.

Enjoy the natural surroundings and fresh air that comes with the territory. The 'Western Highland Rim' in mid-south Tennessee features rolling hills. Located in easy driving distance from Nashville, Memphis, Birmingham, and even Atlanta and offers not only good stargazing on clear nights, but also unique landscape and tucked away sites from walking in the woods to visiting wineries.

retreat highlights


Hug Donkeys!


Farm to Table Meals


Forest Therapy

Lemon Lodge Highlights

disconnect to reconnect

With a minimum 2 night stay, each couples getaway includes:

  • A guided Forest Therapy walk introducing you to the land at that particular moment in a slow and mindful observation process culminating in a picnic lunch. LEARN MORE

  • All meals prepared just for you with a healthy, farm to table focus from our garden, our fresh free-range organic eggs, and other fresh organic ingredients sourced right before your arrival. Coffee, tea, and fresh water in the kitchen as well as a 'soda stream' that you can use natural ingredients from the garden. After booking, we'll develop a personalized menu that may include continental style breakfast, a-la carte lunch options, and meals that are suited to your appetite.

  • An introduction to the donkeys and a tour of the garden including a discussion of what may be wild in bloom that could be edible flowers or 'weeds'.

  • Enjoy free time to wander the property, take a dip in a small swimming hole area of our Buffalo River access, spend time with the donkeys, find a quiet space to read, take a nap in a hammock, or even bring your own craft project. There are puzzles, cards, a few board games, and a dvd player if you want to rent an old favorite flick to bring along.

  • Exclusive access to the Lemon Lodge featuring your private quarters with a king size bed and ensuite bathroom. A home away from home with living room, kitchen, and dining area as well as a front and back porch. The back porch overlooks the donkey zones.
    (please note that there may be participants in the artist/writer residency program residing elsewhere on the homestead acreage or other guests reserving primitive campsites closer to the river.)

Add-on activities include:

  • Collage instruction

  • Nature cyanotypes - original photographic process using sunlight (see gallery below)

  • Photography basics with an instant camera (or bring your own film/digital)

  • Basic clay make pinch pots, coil forms, or other small items

  • Make a journal with Japanese book-binding stitch

  • Nature walk featuring the garden as well as the untamed area.

  • Longer than 2 night stay you may be interested in more intensive creative workshops or a specialized cooking class (LEARN MORE)

Transportation from BNA (Nashville International Airport) is available as an upgrade and includes a private brief driving tour of the city and a scenic drive to the retreat along the historic Natchez Trace Parkway with at least one pitstop on the route for scenic overlook or a short hike to Fall Hollow Falls waterfall.

Interested in connecting to activities in the area? With your own transportation or with Val as your guide, you can explore:

  • any of the local wineries including Amber Falls that often has entertainment on the weekends

  • Amish markets

  • other nature spots on the Natchez Trace Historic Parkway (a Federal park 440 miles long)

  • exploring some of the nearby thrift/salvage stores

  • a visit to "The Farm" - the first intentional community with a small store and farm market days seasonal on the 2nd Saturday

  • a visit to downtown Florence, Alabama with shops, restaurants, and some excellent thrift antique shops in that area (approx. 1 hour drive)

  • a visit to lovely town of Dickson where you could visit the local shops, enjoy a meal at a local restaurant, partake in a festival or music event if they coincide with your stay (approx. 1.5 hr drive)

  • Horseback riding at nearby Calico Junction Ranch

  • Canoe or Kayak the Buffalo River with nearby outfitters Crazy Horse Canoe
    (approx. 25 min drive)



After your booking, coordinate your menu with Val that incorporates farm to table philosophy from our garden or nearby producers or what we can source as organic, fair trade, non GMO, etc. Healthy nutrition helps the brain and body and is a vital component to the sense of wonder and act of wander.

Special diets will be adhered to and you may also inquire about learning more about dietary plans such as gluten-free or vegetarian is an option for cooking classes.

* information is based on experience and resources available to the public, this is not a certified nutrition or dietician strategy.

Driving Uphill


Camp Wonder Wander is rural for a reason. Located in a beautiful area of rolling hills approximately 20 minutes drive to the closest town so you won't hear typical sounds of modern city life.

The best airport is Nashville International - BNA.


If you want to rent your own car, there are lovely areas to explore with state parks and hiking/walking trails all within about 45 minutes drive.

Or choose our transport option for a private ride with your host who will be your tour guide on the drive from the airport.

Helping Hand Icon

personal attention

Hospitality is very important and you will receive personal attention for your planning and while you are at the retreat center. The exclusivity of the place will reinforce this personal attention as will be the only occupant in the Lemon Lodge (although there may be participants in our artist/writer residency program elsewhere on the property or people camping on the riverside land).


You are encouraged to sit and daydream, go for walks and use the space for your personal inner journey. Are you in a life shift? Interested in learning more about the garden, foraging, or even how Val ended up in this rural place after two decades as a professor? Just ask.

Tree Trunk


The location of the retreat center is intentionally rural so that participants can engage in a digital detox and reconnection with the inner spirit. The state itself offers a variety of habitats and geology while this area is one of the best areas without light pollution. Considered to be in the Western Highland Rim, the terrain is rolling hills with farms, ranches, and forest. Even in winter there's still some green with the evergreens and bamboo forest.

Recognizing the features and benefits of each season would be a consideration planning your retreat. From the coziness that comes in the winter months with the woodstove inside and embracing nature's dormancy to the long days of summer with fireflies and birds all about. 

Nature Immersion Benefits

From Radio Lab, stories on getting lost and found.

"Expect three main benefits from nature: restoration, contemplation and inspiration. All of them are crucial for creative leaders. Nature restores us. It gives us physical and emotional health—when it comes to stress relief, breathing fresh air is as close to medicine as you can get. Being in the mountains or near the ocean directly affects our health in a good way. After just 20 minutes in a natural setting, our levels of cortisol, which is a stress indicator, decrease significantly." for the full article click here to read "The outdoors prescription: how nature ignites creativity" by Kate Inglis

"Take two hours of pine forest and call me in the morning" also discusses the need to put away phones and get into nature to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and more.

Tips for an aging brain include Be Social!, Engage in New Experiences that challenge your way of thinking and allow for sense of Wonder, Don't Multitask - put the phones away, Eat Healthy Real Food.... and more in a delightful conversation.

Scientific reasons support the philosophy and methodology of the Camp and Creativity workshops. Learn more listening to NPR's On Point with Tom Ashcroft original airing July 24, 2015.

"Forest Bathing: A Retreat to Nature can boost Immunity and Mood" – Allison Aubrey

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forest therapy

what is forest therapy?

Forest Therapy guided walk will engage you in wonder and wandering in this sensory experience in the natural surroundings of the retreat center. Val, certified by ANFT, is your guide to slowing down which can be difficult for us in our fast-paced society. A guide works in partnership with the more-than-human world to accompany and support others on the journeys through which they encounter and embody the whole of who they are.

What is Forest Therapy?
This originated in Japan as "Forest Bathing" or "shinrin-yoku" in the 80s when the government recognized an increase in health problems brought about by the intensity and demands of their urban work environment. They conducted much research and realized that humans in the urban world were disconnected from the indigenous land and nature found more commonly in other parts of their country.


Val has been to Japan seven times over a period of 9 years with the last trip in May of 2019. Each experience was a cultural immersion in place whether a guiding a group in a study abroad or a personal discovery on sabbatical for 5 weeks, creative immersion research in 2 or 3 week increments and even participating with the Manjiro Society and Grassroots Summit for a homestay in the small village near Nara. The impact of seeing and feeling a society that embraces the natural world was an impetus to founding the retreat center and becoming a certified guide. ANFT, Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, is an international accrediting organization that has developed their own standard practice inspired by the Japanese.

Here's another resource from PBS – Windows to the Wild episode.