Retreat Model

Amenia Regenerative Center

(from Samara)


I. Roles

  1. Parking Lot Attendant (optional depending on size of retreat and expected guests)
  • If Retreat is small, merge the role of greeter (see 2) and parking lot attendant.
  • Directs cars to designated spots
  • Directs guests to registration
  1. Greeter(s)
  • Station 1-2 people at front (wherever “front” may be).
  • The Greeter is the Greeter and does not move from his/her post unless someone else is taking over the role
  • The Greeter welcomes guests, orients them to the space, shows them where to leave there stuff, where to use the bathroom, etc.
  • Greeter can also handle the process of registration if you get that far
  1. Tour Guides
  • Tour Guides circle around and pick up new arrivals from the main barn/front desk/registration
  • Show guests around the entire property – from wetlands through upper mountain
  • Guides should be well-versed in the vision for each of the various pieces of the property so that they can enlighten the guests as they go
  • They should know where each of the guests on their tour will be lodging and show them this along the way
  1. Luggage Carriers
  • It is up to these people to bring the guests’ luggage to their designated resting spot
  • They can check with registration to see what sort of lodging each guest has been ascribed
  1. Cook
  • There should be one person assigned to the role of cook. It is up to them to have the menus planned out prior to the start of the retreat, and to make sure that all the ingredients are stocked
  • The cook may have a team of residential helpers and/or a team of guests who will be assigned to kitchen duty
  • The cook is “in charge” insofar as he/she has planned the menu and know what needs to be completed
  • The cook can delineate tasks to participants
  1. Task Managers
  • These are people who are manning the operation of specific projects. Examples may include garden manager, greenhouse manager, wetlands buildings projects manager, mountain buildings projects manager, housekeeping, etc. Each manager knows the ins and outs of the specific task they will be directing. They know – in great detail – what needs to get done and have composed an organized list of specific, simple tasks that any unskilled joe can jump right in on (for example, a building projects manager with the task of building tent platforms might have the following list prepared:
    • Level ground
    • Arrange pallets in 4×4 units
    • Carry plywood up from main barn
    • Cut plywood

Etc. The task managers should have all the necessary tools and materials already prepared so that as guests arrive, he or she can readily set them to a task.

  • Each task manager will be responsible for accomodating each of his/her participants with a task that suits his/her physical capabilities 

    II. Schedule

  • The more clear-cut and organized the schedule, the better off everything will be. Here is a sample schedule for an ordinary retreat at Upaya Zen Center.
  • Arrival Day
    2:00 – 5:00 pm Check-in (both lodgers and commuters)
    5:30 Zazen
    6:30 Dinner
    7:45 Orientation/Retreat session
    9:00 Retire
  • Full Day(s)
    7:00 am Zazen
    8:00 Breakfast
    9:00 Samu (work practice) meeting and samu period
    10:30 – 1:00 pm Retreat session
    1:00 Lunch
    2:00 Rest period
    3:00 – 5:00 Retreat session
    5:30 Zazen
    6:30 Dinner
    7:45 Retreat session
  • Departure Day
    7:00 am Zazen
    8:00 Breakfast
    9:00 – 11:00 Retreat session
    11:00 – 12:00  Samu (work practice)
    12:30 pm Lunch

Retreat session” here refers to the teachings or course of study specific to the variable possible workshops offered. In the context of the Arc, “Samu” – or, the zen word for “work practice” – will most likely play a larger role than represented in this schedule. Change out any of the hours delineated for “retreat sesson” for work practice.

III. Elements

  1. Work Practice
  • Work practice”. In the context of a spiritual community, we are bringing mindfulness and concentration to everything that we do. It is more than work: it is deliberate effort toward the realization of a collective goal. At Arc38, we are practicing the art of working together as a community – an art that has been subverted by the capalistic, egocentric paradigm of the modern age. We are practicing stepping out of the ordinary constraints of the money-mediated social spheres and working within the confines of an ever-developing system that enables collective contribution in an authentic way.
  1. Meals
  • The meal is a central aspect of communal living and it is all-important that it be carefully brought to fruition. Having one or two people who are specifically in charge of all the meals makes it possible for the community and guests to work hard on the tasks prescribed to them and then gather three times a day to be adequately nourished. Meals are a time when the community comes together, shares in gratitude, and reflects on the work underway.
  • A prayer or affirmation, stated as a unit, helps to bring the central purpose of the experience to light.
  • Zazen (Meditation)
  • I cannot emphasize enough the importance of meditation within the context of a community. Even twenty minutes of meditation at the start or end of the day is enough to bring a world of clarity and stability to the energy of the group. The practice can (and should) be simple. Everyone gathers in the prescribed space and takes a seat. A designated leader rings a bell and everyone does their practice for the time allotted, at which point the leader again rings the bell. (It is helpful if, at this point, the leader announces the next activity/meeting place for the group of guests/participants during a retreat).
  1. Entertainment
  • One element of a retreat schedule not listed on the sample included is the element of entertainment, which will certainly be of central importance within the context of an Arc38 retreat. It might make sense to have work practice during the day and some kind of organized party at night. Have people leading these so that people are not just getting drunk or stoned but are using their creative energies to their utmost potential. Costumes, creative games, performances, dance journeys – all to be included.
  1. Lodging
  • Guest rooms, tent sites
  • Have these prepared prior to guests’ arrival
  • Have guests reserve spots prior to arrival
  • Charge money or volunteer hours accordingly as exchange for accommodations
    • Different tiers (i.e. a guest room requires more substantial exchange than a tent site, etc.)