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Back to the Roots:
A Mindful Outdoor Retreat for Men

Sunset Over Forest

"Nature permits us the opportunity, free of distractions of the city, to ask the fundamental question, 'Who am I; what is my purpose here?'"         -  Ken Burns

Are you noticing an itch to be outside, among the trees, or operate in a more mindful and intentional pace? Even prior to the pandemic, so many of us began to notice the increased demands, both externally and internally, as well as the significant impact of stress from these demands. We've needed a stronger and more sustainable connection to self, the outdoors, and sometimes other people, for quite some time. It seems we need it, now, more than ever! We're offering you the opportunity to slow down, decrease the noise, and just BE. Research (as well as lived experience) shows us that immersion in forested areas has a dynamic and lasting positive effect on our well-being, including increased immune functioning; decreased stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms; improvements in physiological health; etc. You're invited to join us in the Chattahoochee National Forest of the North Georgia Mountains for a mindful retreat where we'll get back to our roots of a symbiotic relationship to the natural world, learn approachable and effective skills for navigating stress, connect with other guys, and experience your life at a more intentional and present pace. Below are some highlights of what you'll experience:

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Hiking

Feel alive and awake in the present as we mindfully hike through varying terrain, including forest, waterside, mountain ridge, and more. Engage, nourish, and perhaps challenge, your mind, body, and spirit while taking in majestic mountain views and abundant life. Setting intentions while letting go of expectations/obligations to be fully present in the journey.

Meditation

Learn what all the medical and wellness buzz is about. Whether learning to meditate as a beginner, or expanding your existing practice into a new setting, you'll have opportunities to experience the many benefits of meditation, specifically mindfulness-based and nature meditation. No previous experience, nor yoga pants required. 

Camping

Connect with nature, "more than human" life, and your more primitive roots while sleeping and eating among the trees. Feel connection to those who have come before us by sleeping on the land they once walked. Breathe air that's been recycled on this planet for billions of years. Summon a simpler time with open space and fresh air, rather than notifications and "likes." 

Walking with Awareness

Awakening the Senses

You may be surprised to learn just how distracted you are in your everyday life when you push pause on the noise and hustle. While in the forest, surrounded by trees and other life, you'll be guided in awakening all of your senses to the present moment. Perhaps, you'll even notice something about your or your senses you haven't before. 

Relaxing

You officially have permission to unplug and unwind. There are no demands nor expectations, here, just invitations. You'll have plenty of unplanned time to explore, take a dip or paddle in the lake, or rest among the trees, not to mention, opportunities to learn and experience the many ways practicing mindfulness can de-stress and unclutter your life.

 

 

Connecting

At the root of human existence, is healthy connection. Through communal dining with nutritious and delicious food prepared on site, purposeful and intentional experiences in the wilderness, small and large group discussions, and the sacred practice of Council, you'll have the opportunity to connect with other guys and nature, while reconnecting with self.  

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WHO? 

From business executives to stay-at-home dads; students to educators; grandfathers, fathers, and sons to single men; intellectuals to techies to artists... Men from various walks of life, races, sexual orientations, and ages of adults ranging from just getting started to retired and reflecting on years past, have found peace, community, insight, confidence, and restoration in this nature-immersive and enriching retreat. Men who are confident in who they are. Men who aren't quite sure, and want to explore what identity means to them. Even if you're simply wanting three days to prioritize self, away from technology, obligations, and notifications, this retreat has plenty to offer.

The number of participants is kept intentionally low for each retreat, in order to provide adequate time and space for a more personal experience. 

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WHY?

There are few experiences more majestic and enlightening in truly knowing oneself than sleeping under the stars, walking quietly among trees hundreds of years old, sitting with rocks predating humans, and joining in community as people have done for 10s of thousands of years in this very place, spanning generations before us. By the time you leave these forested mountains, you'll notice a sense of calm, contentment, and connection, which is all yours to take with you and recreate whenever you like. Everything you learn and experience, here, is approachable and can be sustained on your own.

  • - a greater sense of comfort and confidence camping and hiking within the natural world,

  • - a strong foundation in, or more fine-tuned, mindfulness practice,

  • - discovery and/or confirmation of that deep knowing of self

  • - connection to the outdoors that's always been there, but needed some nourishment,

  • - meaningful connections with other guys beyond partners, work, nuclear family, and social media.

 

​Even if you've been camping and hiking before, even if you already have a healthy mindfulness or meditation practice, even if you already have friendships, you may be amazed by the new depths you'll be able to reach when you have an uninterrupted safe space to press pause on the speed and chatter of your busy life, and immerse yourself in nature's restorative properties in this way.

In addition to plenty of relaxing and exploring outdoors, this retreat invites safe space for judgement-free conversation about identities we take on as men, as well as relationships, purpose, and ways to more purposefully and intentionally participate in this life. How do you connect with your identities? How do you protect these identities or project them to others? What rules or agreements do you put energy into upholding in order to maintain these identities? Did you make these rules, or someone else? Do they still belong, or do they need editing.

 

The good news is that trees don't judge; neither do we. While soaking in all the benefits of being immersed in nature, you'll also have the opportunity to be YOU, without judgment, expectation, obligation, or risk of exile. 

Though this experience is cathartic and deeply soul-enriching, it is neither therapy, nor a religious/faith-based retreat. We welcome all religions, spiritual affiliations (or no affiliation), cultures, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and social classes. In order to create a safe space for processing identities, this retreat is for folks identifying as male. Other retreats will be available for all genders and non-binary.

**We will be sleeping, eating, and exploring outdoors. Be mindful of the weather and climate typical to north Georgia in spring. We will not be engaging in rigorous hikes nor extreme limits, though walking in this terrain with elevation gain can be taxing on the body if you've never hiked in the mountains before. This trip is more about being present in the journey than hustling to a destination. With that said, understand any physical limitations you may have before engaging in an event like this. Everything you will experience are invitations, not requirements. Although, in order to gain the most from this experience, we encourage you to participate in everything you can.

"The general flexibility/“invitation” to participate attitude felt very freeing, unlike most religious retreats where forced participation forces most to be uncomfortable and not open up."

Meet Your Guides

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Patrick Bryant

Certified Mindful Outdoor Guide

Psychotherapist/LCSW

Certified Mindfulness-Informed Professional

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Garrett Thurman

Licensed Professional Counselor

Assistant Outdoor Guide

Garrett is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He grew up in Colorado and has been camping and hiking since infancy. Garrett loves rock climbing, art, and photography and tries to get outdoors as much as possible. In his counseling practice, he specializes in treating anxiety and looks for creative ways to help clients heal and thrive.

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Patrick Gragson

Health, Safety, & Environmental Manager

Assistant Outdoor Guide

 

Patrick has lived in Georgia most of his life and loves exploring the mountains and rivers of the state. His favorite river (so far) is the Altamaha. While it lacks the rapids that make the rivers of North Georgia exciting, the vast amount of wildlife and the mystique of the cypress swamps more than makes up for its leisurely pace. Patrick's passion for nature led him to pursue a degree in environmental engineering in order to help protect the environment. After college he worked for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for several years helping to prevent and clean up pollution around the state. During this time he was trained in wilderness first aid and was a member of the DNR Search and Rescue team. Patrick is excited to help others become more in touch with nature and share the many benefits of that connection. 

Upcoming Events 
 

Back to the Roots: A Mindful Outdoor Retreat for Men
Apr 21, 2:00 PM EDT
Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area

$800  Early bird :  $640

For a small example of what you'll experience, take a listen to this meditation.

You're encouraged to listen to this outside.

Nature meditation

Questions? Click here to read answers to common questions about our retreats.

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