Be one of six in our 2022 options:
April 7 - 24 | June 12-19 | July 24 - 31
a zesty retreat
to nurture your inner child,
to nourish your soul,
to steep with joy,
and to ripen your senses to go slow.
Are you yearning to forge a new life path?
Are you questioning your life path and pace?
Are you craving some time to connect to the earth?
Are you yearning to disconnect from fast-paced society in order to reconnect yourself to the earth's bounty and lessons?
Are you savoring an opportunity to craft?
Are you hungry for foraging, discovering,
and garden to table delights?
Are you eager to learn about handcraft by making, homestead style gardening by doing, non-processed food by eating, and how to live more mindfully and 'locally' by experiencing the land and visiting small farms and farm markets?
Taste a dash of Tennessee in this zesty retreat, where you will nourish your belly, heart, and mind. Spice up your life with a sensory experience in rolling landscape with guided forest walk that will transform your awareness of sights, sounds, smells, and taste. Let your dreams simmer while creating craft inspired by local flora. Relish in getting your hands dirty in the garden, in the kitchen, and in pottery clay.
But that's not all!
Delight your palate with local flavors from a goat farm, blueberry farm, a farm market, and up to the 4 nearby wineries (one is all berries). Savor in the friendships made in this small group setting around the kitchen table, campfire, and spaces and times in between.
Join up to 5 others plus your host, Val, to spend 7 nights in the wonder wanderful, luscious landscape region of mid-south Tennessee where there is little light pollution and plenty of fresh air on our 17 acres.
Venture into a delicious oasis from your regular world into our 17 acres of loveliness in one of the most biodiverse regions of the U.S. You'll bask in this homestead-farm-stay style immersion with delightful interactions with the camp donkeys, chickens, tripod Pyrenees, roaming cats, and a cute bunny. No matter what season, you'll dip into the scrumptious offerings of the earth such as edible flowers and plants, the garden and small greenhouse, as well as all of the various colors, textures, and sounds in that particular moment in time. You might even become more aware to shrink your footprint.
Why Camp Wonder Wander
& Mid-South Tennessee?
No Light Pollution
You'll be amazed at the sensation of being remote at an elevation of about 700 feet above sea level in this amazing part of Tennessee called the Western Highland Rim. If scheduled on a waning moon, you'll absolutely love being able to see the stars. If scheduled in the summer, you'll absolutely love to see the lightning bugs and the stars! Learn the importance of connecting with our presence on the planet by escaping artificial lighting.
There are no words to describe the love and energy you can feel when interacting with our dozen donkeys (as of June 2021). Delight in the personalities of these adorable and friendly creatures. Learn from Val about being a newbie around 'farm' animals, the story of how some found their way here while others were born on the property. They may just follow you around! The most recent foal born June 26, 2021!
Buffalo River & Art
The property has about 400 feet of river frontage featuring incredible river rock and the hues of the lazy river. This is still one of the untamed spaces in the region and has minimal public water traffic from the area canoe rental companies or locals. Val's other dream when starting the camp was to have an artist residency program for creative people of all walks of life. It is burgeoning post-covid and you just might see an art installation or meet an artist (or more) during your stay.
Green (All Year)
This area is called the Western Highland Rim of Tennessee and features unique geology as well as rolling foothills of Appalachia. Much of this area is logging land, but there are large swaths of cattle and grain or hay farmland. The area has a long growing season and healthy amount of rain making it ideal for the numerous small family farms that have sprouted. There is some type of green all year round from lichen and moss, to the bamboo grove, and the evergreens.
Wild to Tended
Our 17 acres is not managed like a golf course. Giving up quickly on 'bush hogging' maintenance, it all started with a first trip on a riding lawn mower to see all the bees and butterflies, grasshoppers and other wildlife in the terrain. Val decided to allow for an untamed space to see what was there. Depending on the season, you'll see natural foraging like this red clover, as well as the more tended garden, and a chance to connect to a nearby farm and 3 vineyards.
Adult Summer Camp
Did the pandemic make you dream about something in your youth maybe you have forgotten about? Whether it be fond memories of youth summer camp or the regrets that you weren't able to go, let this retreat be your dip back into that mental space or a chance for your inner child to experience it for the first time. Weather permitting, we'll try to have campfires and enjoy our evenings together. But, don't be surprised if you go to bed early and sleep really well here.
The Lemon Lodge is a 1930's house with modern updates. This is unlike a big resort and is creatively designed for the traveler and retreat attendees. Inspired by travels in Europe and Japan, your host Val has spent the early phases of start-up to create a comfortable and cozy space. Look out the back windows or deck at donkey land or cozy up in the big living room. The house can sleep up to 14, but with a small group of 6 you'll have more elbow room.
Rare Breed Chickens
You may just want to have your own chicken crew by the time you leave after interacting with our hens and the rooster, Mr. Honkers (because he honks like a goose). Learn from Val's trials and tribulations as a first time chicken owner. Most people rave about the delicious taste of the organic eggs from these happy chickens. In your free time if you want to watch them in their scratching technique you may just be inspired or have a belly laugh.
Forage & Forest Details
Discover the benefits of spending time in the forest and other terrain here. Val will share her interesting story to becoming a certified Forest Therapy guide by ANFT that was sparked during the pandemic. Inspired by the Japanese Forest Bathing practice, this is a guided immersion that helps one look at the details rather than just the big picture. An interesting note is that the Japanese discovered trees emit "Phytonocides" to help each other heal so humans get the benefit by immersing in the space too.
(Arrival on Sunday) At the heart of any gathering, the table is the place to convene for social and physical nourishment. But, the kitchen is where the process takes place. Yes, we will cook together. If you are a novice, then these prep sessions will be cooking primer. If you have more experience, perhaps you'll still learn something new or be able to lend a hand in any of the tasks. Don't worry you won't be tied to the stove. This will be a collaborative operation and tasks will be divided by a fair system and throwback to Val's Girl Scout camp kaper chart.
FOREST WALK & FORAGE
Day one (M) - We will start the retreat with a group breakfast of farm fresh eggs and journey into the ecology for a nature immersion forest walk. Inspired by the Japanese Forest Bathing, this Forest Therapy guided walk is a sensory experience that will introduce you to the land and encourage you to move into a slower pace for the retreat. We'll forage for fascinating items to use in crafts. You'll have time for an afternoon break before our group dinner and pottery introduction.
CLAY, BLUEBERRIES, AND FARM MARKET
Day two (TU) - Whether you are a novice or not, get your hands dirty in clay as you work to create a vessel or other objects with pinch pot technique and a demonstration of the pottery wheel. We will start early in the retreat with an overview of the materials and best practices. The group will divide into pairs for this work. The retreat time span should allow for at least the first phase of making, drying, fixing, and first firing, and if glazing can't be completed it will be sent to you a few weeks later. Our afternoon will be a venture to nearby Hampshire to visit a blueberry farm and a weekly farmer's market where you'll meet some local farmers and taste or buy their goodies.
Day three (W) - Are you yearning to get your hands dirty in a garden yet lack the space or time in your normal life? That's the exciting part of this retreat in that you can smell the fresh air and earth daily while interacting with plants in harvesting or seedling. Find out about Val's successes and failures in this upstart raised bed, small greenhouse, various fruit trees, and the beginning stages of permaculture. Learn about the cycles of life and composting. Seasonal addition of the garden to our meals. Continue the pottery today and through the rest of the retreat.
CRAFT & DESIGN
Day four (TH) - Whether you are a novice or looking for a way to boost your creative energy, this part of the retreat workshop will have you exploring food in a variety of aesthetic options. A day filled with fun in the making of collage, botanical dyed fabric, drawing your collected objects. The morning will be a guided session, and the afternoon you'll have a buffet of options to try solo or with Val as your guide.
LOCAL FOOD & VINEYARD TOUR
Day five (F) - Channel your wonder wandering spirit on this day trip adventure to nooks and crannies of this luscious region. We will stop at a local (Amish) market and then venture to the three vineyards to sample and view the beautiful land. *expenditures for cool finds and food not included. Weather permitting tonight we may have our campfire and food themed movie.
CREATE AND FORAGE
Day six (SA) - Bring your personal retreat recipe to final fruition. Today is the day to experiment and add the dash of spice you need. If possible glaze your pottery, finish any botanical pressings or drawings, or just take some time to read or lounge. After lunch we'll get a short tour of the nearby goat farm and maybe you'll want to take home some of their cheese. We'll have breakfast for dinner tonight and recognize the bittersweet ending of our time together.
Day seven (SU) - Say farewell to the land, the animals, and hello to your own new unpaved life path.
Ignite your disconnection to reconnect moment.
You'll go home with a new appreciation of your senses and craft skills. You'll take away an understanding of what the earth provides on a day to day basis and seasonally. You'll make some new friends including the four-footed and feathered at the camp.
endurance from bamboo
resilience from wildflowers
harmony from 'weeds'
tenderness from donkeys
calmness from water
patience from clay
energy from compost
begin to forge your own unpaved path.
it's time for your
Join One of our Retreats Now
7 nights stay in the Lemon Lodge at Camp Wonder Wander. Group sleeping arrangement includes one private room with full size bed (upgrade) and shared hall bath, an ensuite with king and twin (2 max occupancy if you want to bring a friend), and a loft featuring spaced out twin beds where you'll feel a tug of fun from that inner child.
Forest Therapy guided walk as an introduction to the landscape and the retreat.
Access to all 17 acres of the wonder wanderful landscape including the donkeys and other camp/farm animals.
Meals will be provided from as much local sources as possible including our eggs and any seasonal items. With a small group, we will organize possible menu items based on everyone's preferred food experience, but you can be guaranteed no soda or other processed food. Note that part of this experience is actually participating in the craft of the meal as aspects of the attention to detail and sensory engagement focus of this retreat. If you want to be catered to, this is not for you. But if you are interested in learning or rediscovering or like a particular facet of the meal routine, then this collaborative experience will resonate.
Local transportation to the various farm and market sites.
Supplies for our craft projects.
A complimentary Pepper Patrol t-shirt, but you can order more for all of your friends and family.
Instructions, mentorship, and guided sessions for all of the content except your free time.
Lounging spaces like hammocks.
Access, access, access to the various attributes of the camp and your host Val's knowledge and experience.
What is NOT included:
Transportation to/from camp. If you are in driving distance, this would make a lovely road trip. If you are flying, please let Val know as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made to assist. If enough of the participants are flying, then we will arrange transport at an extra cost, but less than any other option. This may require you to arrive by a certain time or to not depart until a certain time.
Personal expenses such as food, wine or other souvenirs during driving tours of the area, any medical tests or requirements in your home country, or any personal items you need to bring with you.
Personal, Medical, or Travel insurance
Please note that this is a no alcohol experience except for our trip to the wineries and our final meals together with any wine you might purchase at that time. No junk food, processed food, or other items will be supplied. Please be mindful of this.
The menu will be based on the particular needs and interests of each attendee. It is expected that each attendee participate in various aspects of the meals through the week of the retreat as one element of the mindfulness lessons.
You may choose to pay the early bird rate in full to guarantee your spot or a non-refundable deposit of $300 whereby the remaining payment is due within 30 days of the event. Any cancellation by participant will result in a total loss of the $300 USD deposit. Any cancellation within the 30 days prior to the event or at any time during the event, is non-refundable. We reserve the right to cancel the retreat if it is not meeting the minimum of 4 (if we do so your deposit is refunded in full). Trip cancellation insurance is always recommended whenever making travel plans. It is highly recommended to not purchase airfare until the 30 day window to ensure that the retreat has met the minimum requirements. When purchasing your airfare you should also purchase travel protection or choose a carrier that has refundable or no change fees.
For the health and wellness of all participants, we will follow the CDC guidelines. It is the traveler responsibility to check all requirements of your own country rules regarding COVID and other public health policies. Camp Wonder Wander is a small venue with lots of space outside. Until further notice, all participants shall practice social distancing which is possible with our space and shall refrain from touching except for fist bumps or elbow taps. Cleaning and disinfectant products are readily available. If you do not want to follow these guidelines, you should reconsider attendance until another year.
All participants must sign the required forms in order to participate in this retreat.
Wonder Wanderful Enterprises, LLC. and Valerie Sloan are not liable, directly or indirectly, for property damage or bodily injury, for any reason whatsoever including, but not limited to, the following causes - acts of God, pandemics, epidemics, detentions, annoyance, weather, quarantines, strikes, civil disturbances, theft, negligence by anyone including the host leader and any staff, default, changes in government regulations, terrorism, war, or failure of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled.
Val is your guide and host who is delighted to share with you this little oasis of beauty she discovered in 2015 and eventually walked away from a career as a design professor in 2018 to tend to full time. As a Forest Therapy certified guide, she is enthusiastic to help you connect to your inner spirit and joy in connecting to the earth in ways you may not be able to in your normal life. As someone who has made the leap to leave the h.o.v. lane of life in order to forge an unpaved path, she is a guide and life coach for your retreat experience. And most importantly, Val is on a continual health journey when she eliminated wheat, corn, and processed food from her life in 1996 and finally after always saying, but never doing, created a place to grow her own food. When Val started talking to herself about shifting lanes, she told herself to stop imagining and start doing.
CONTACT VAL WITH QUESTIONS OR TO ORGANIZE THIS ITINERARY FOR YOUR GROUP.
All images and text are copyright of Wonder Wanderful Enterprises, LLC. You may not use any material without expressed written permission.