A Reflection on Our First Annual Winter Writing Retreat

Jeremy Hyler, Penny Lew, Kathy Kurtze, and Troy Hicks work on a piece of writing at the 2013 CRWP Writing Retreat.
Jeremy Hyler, Penny Lew, Kathy Kurtze, and Troy Hicks work on a piece of writing at the 2013 CRWP Writing Retreat.

As spring comes to Michigan, we reflect on one particularly enjoyable weekend this past February. The East Bay Lodge in Prudenville, Michigan, on the expansive (and frozen) Houghton Lake was the site of our first annual winter retreat for teacher consultants from CRWP.  Eight members of the CRWP met for a three-day experience centered around fostering friendships and collegial discussions, and writing for both personal and professional purposes.

Friday night was time for reconnecting as friends.  As we visited and caught up on each other’s lives, both in the classroom and beyond, we found time to listen and laugh.  A  rousing game of WRITE-O (Kathy’s version of BINGO) led to personal writings that exposed facets of our private lives previously not revealed.  As we retired to our rooms, we took with us a new appreciation for each other.

Saturday started with continental breakfast around the fire, and a brainstorming of what we hoped to accomplish throughout the day.  Ideas were generated, shared via Google Docs, and to work we went! Some sat near the roaring fire, others tucked themselves into the cushiony chairs, and a few retired to the quiet of their rooms.  When pangs of hunger called, we reconvened for lunch and a read-around.  With finger snapping we applauded each other’s writing, offering compliments and suggestions.  Then, we were off to our respective areas to make changes and begin new projects.

Hours later, we drew together again, stirring the log fire to add warmth to the room, and then filling our talk with more ideas.  We generated a plan for Fall offerings, hoping to organize a session of one-credit classes that included a flexible venue and webinar offerings.  We pulled out calendars, sketched a plan, and dreamt up a series of sessions that could be offered and easily be repeated.  By dinner time, we were zealously preparing for a season of educational possibilities. Revived by dinner and conversation about everything but writing, we returned to our pre-dinner tasks with renewed vigor. Our mission: to design a brochure to advertise and promote our plan!

Once that was accomplished, we jumped into Google+ and set up a community, even hosting our first hangout! The objective is to meet each other in a digital space on a regular basis, hoping to keep connections alive throughout the year.  We designated the first Monday of the month as our day to meet, and agreed to a rotating list of topics.  Some may be to share strategies, others to talk about a book, and less formal ones to simply visit.  It will be kind of like any casual get-together—members reconnect, reinvigorate, renew our zest for what we do.  While we missed Tip-Up-Town, Houghton Lake treated us well and we look forward to continuing this tradition in years to come!

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