a perfect place for a Group Retreat
Get together with a group of friends or office mates for some bonding time in a beautiful location where you can Hug Donkeys!
"Why you should tell your team
to take a break and go outside"
- Harvard Business Review
by Emma Seppälä and Johann Berli, June 26, 2017
"Greenery isn’t just an air-freshener that’s pleasant to look at, it can actually significantly boost employee well-being, reduce stress, enhance innovative potential, and boost a sense of connection. Yet most of us don’t spend much time in nature. Richard Louv, author of the Nature Principal, argues that we’re collectively suffering from “nature-deficit disorder,” which hurts us mentally, physically, and even spiritually. Adding a little wilderness to your corporate offices may just be the smartest move you can do this year."
"Exposure to nature may therefore foster boost superior decision-making which includes better foresight. Exposure to natural environments also strengthens attention and may even help strengthen memory."
"Finally, we know that the #1 trait leaders look for in incoming employees is creativity, and exposure to natural environments dramatically improves our ability to think expansively and make superior decisions."
star-gazing in one of the LAST LIGHT POLLUTION FREE ZONES in the state of Tennessee
an art/nature experience
engage the senses with
Do you have a team of creatives in advertising, marketing, design, architecture, planning, or other related fields who are raring to get outside for some fresh air and team-building?
Do you have a group of friends who love to craft and want a special place to meet up?
Are you managing a small team for a non-profit, small business start-up, or a cohort of remote workers looking to meet in person for a planning meeting or 'retreat'?
Then Let's COORDINATE TODAY!
The founder and director of this retreat center was a graphic design professor for more than 20 years and walked away from tenure to create a new type of active learning space using the great outdoors and the lessons nature can teach all of us.
Let's discuss your goals and plans in order to coordinate an invaluable experience for employee retention, team-building, or reconnecting with people from far away into a green space.
Nature and art workshops available include cyanotype and nature journaling with a book-binding exercise.
A guided Forest Therapy walk is included for each retreat staying at least two nights.
With Val's experience as a design educator (and former leader in AIGA), she can lead workshops or just let you organize your own agenda.
Your group will have:
Exclusive access to the Lemon Lodge featuring space for up to 12 people and extra room to pitch a tent. If you have a slightly larger group, depending on the calendar, we can expand private lodging into the Residency Housee. Consider this a vacation rental style accommodation as 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.)
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
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.
Possible add-on activities:
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
Nature walk featuring the garden as well as the untamed area.
Graphic Design projects for any skill level or just re-engage seasoned designers with fun design related activities.
Longer than 2 night stay you may be interested in more intensive creative workshops or a specialized cooking class (LEARN MORE). Are your kids in scouts and looking for a chance to work on badges? Let's chat.
Interested in connecting to activities in the area? With your own transportation or with Val as your guide, you can explore:
lots of nature spots for picnics or walks including those nearby on the Natchez Trace Historic Parkway (a Federal park 440 miles long)
Horseback riding at nearby Calico Junction Ranch
Bring your own kayaks and we can help shuttle up river
Elephant Sanctuary visitor center is in downtown Hohenwald
Lewis County Museum of Natural History and discovery center featuring the Maddox Wildlife collection for those interested in science, nature, ecology, and artifacts.
Several wineries and small farms in the area that have events.
Optional for group getaways. Do you need meal prep so that you can focus on your agenda? Does anyone in your group want a cooking class? Please discuss. 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.
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 for up to 6 with your host who will be your tour guide on the drive from the airport. Assistance with coordinating transport for larger groups please inquire.
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.
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
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.