Working Retreat: Spark Inspiration with Meditation and Creative Play

In-Person | Picture Books, Early Readers and Chapter Books, Novels, Graphic Novels, Novels in Verse, Nonfiction, Poetry, Working Retreats
Join Kekla Magoon and Laurie Calkhoven for a retreat built to spark creativity through meditation and creative play, and then give you time to harness that spark in your own projects.  

June 15 - June 18

Highlights Foundation Campus

$1199

Overview

In-person 4-Day/3-Night Working Retreat

Join Kekla Magoon and Laurie Calkhoven for a retreat built to spark inspiration through meditation and creative play, and then give you time to harness that spark in your own projects.  A “Working Retreat” is lightly structured with one lecture each day, generative activities, optional consultations with faculty, and plenty of time to create in the comfort and care of the Highlights Foundation retreat center.

  • This is an in-person retreat for writers who are looking for ways to deepen their stories with ample time to work on individual projects.
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • Begins at 5:30pm Eastern on Saturday, June 15
  • Ends after lunch on Tuesday, June 18
  • 18 participants max

Why This Working Retreat?

All creatives need time and space to accomplish their goals. We invite writers to gather for an engaging retreat with writing activities and meditations that will lead to deeper discoveries in your work, and spark your creativity.

At the heart of this working retreat is the “work.”

Days will be spent on individual projects. You choose what that means for you! Maybe you’ll draft new words on the porch of your cabin, sketch in the Art Coop, finally get to the revisions that your work-in-progress needs, or rest.

In addition to your personal time, we’ve invited authors Kekla Magoon and Laurie Calkhoven to work alongside you. They’ll offer one presentation and creative exercise each day of the retreat.  These will be held in the morning to jolt your creativity for the rest of your day’s work.

Finally, you can join fellow creatives for informal gatherings by the fire in the evening, at meals, or throughout the retreat as you wish to discuss creativity and publishing, share your work, and more!

This working retreat includes:

  • Activities that “shake up” your creative rhythms!
  • Tips for strengthening your plot and getting to know your characters.
  • Generative writing exercises to spark new ideas and deepen craft.
  • Shared studio and writing time with informal feedback.
  • Independent time to write, revise, and discuss your work.

Your retreat will be well appointed with space to create, as every accommodation option includes a personal workspace. You’ll also find various spaces around the campus to get work done, or explore the grounds if you need a change of pace or some inspiration.

“Attending a retreat at the Highlights campus felt like a portal fantasy, in the best way possible. Everyone was so friendly, and I felt so taken care of while I was there. The campus itself had wonderful spots to get creative work done (shout out to the Art Coop…I nerded out big time in there!), and I loved the routines we had where we got to do individual creative work and then come together during meals and after hours to bond and connect. It was just such a beautifully crafted atmosphere…The faculty was [also] amazing all around. They provided great insight in their presentations, and they were warm and welcome to discuss anything about the craft. I deeply enjoyed their company and their brilliance.”

What's It Like on a Working Retreat at the Highlights Foundation?

See a virtual tour of the campus, testimonials, and more information about the experience.

Feedback Expected

  • Optional consultations can be scheduled with one of our faculty mentors. These opportunities are available at an additional cost, and can be added at the time of registration or during your retreat stay. No submissions will be required or accepted for these 1:1 consultation opportunities, but you will fill out a questionnaire in advance (in our virtual classroom) to prepare.  Consultations will include time to discuss where you are in your stories, and ideas for moving forward with drafting, revisions, and/or submissions.
  • There will be informal feedback opportunities and time to share work during generative creative exercises, and as you connect with fellow attendees.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You’re new to writing. You’ll get an invigorating start filled with ideas and activities.
  • You have an in-progress or finished manuscript. This retreat will help you stretch to new places with your current work(s) in progress.
  • You enjoy discussing stories and your journey with fellow storytellers. You’ll gather ideas and informal feedback about your story in a supportive environment.
  • You’d like a retreat where you can get to work. This retreat is not based on lecture.  It’s time to work on your own projects, with the added immersive experience of activities, generative writing exercises, and time to connect with fellow writers over meals and informal gatherings.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.  Click on the headings below to explore the agenda in more detail.

Pre-Workshop
  • You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow creatives and engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards).  You can also fill out a questionnaire if you opt for a 1:1 consultation with a faculty mentor (at an additional cost).
  • We encourage you to bring projects with you to the retreat at various stages in-progress, as you will have time to draft, revise, and polish your work during independent time. This retreat is not filled with lecture.  At its heart, this retreat is time to work on your project.
Day One: Saturday, June 15, 2024
  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern: Arrival and check in
  • 5:30pm Eastern: Appetizers & Dinner
  • Following dinner: Expectations and goals for our time together
Day Two: Sunday, June 16, 2024
Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Character Meditation
  • Visual Character Building Activity

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Optional consultations (available at an additional cost)
  • Optional studio/writing hour (materials will be provided)

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Informal gathering fireside (weather permitting)
Day Three: Monday, June 17, 2024
Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • POV Meditation
  • Theater Games

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Optional consultations (available at an additional cost)
  • Optional studio/writing hour (materials will be provided)

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Informal gathering fireside (weather permitting)
Day Four: Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Open Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Final Meditation & Writing Exercise

Afternoon

  • Lunch & farewells
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Commitment Required for the Best Experience

As an in-person event at our Retreat Center, you’ll have a chance to step away from everyday life to experience the retreat. It is important to recognize that this is not a “jam-packed” workshop; rather it is a Working Retreat that combines opportunities for learning with ample time to retreat and work on your own projects.

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

If you would like additional support from faculty, you can add on a private 1:1 consultation at an additional cost. There is no submission required, though we will ask you to fill out a short questionnaire in the virtual classroom prior to your consultation.

How It Impacts Kids

Kids crave authentic and rich stories. This Working Retreat sparks ideas through play and meditation, giving you a deeper perspective on your work. You’ll have time and space to work on your projects, in a supportive environment.

Testimonials from Our Community

“The cottage was perfect, the surroundings peaceful and relaxing. I was able to find a balance of work and play. So much thought and consideration has gone into providing an inspiring, rejuvenating environment.”

“This retreat was wonderful. There was so much positive energy, and it really gave me the momentum to keep working toward my goals.”

“I was very moved by the meditational writing times with Laurie Calkhoven.”

Meet the Faculty

Special Guests

DETAILS

June 15 - June 18

$1199

Highlights Foundation Campus

362 Boyds Mills Road
Milanville, PA 18443

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

LOCATION

All in-person Highlights Foundation workshops and retreats (including this one) are held at our Retreat Center: The Barn at Boyds Mills.  This site was the home of the original founders of Highlights for Children Garry and Caroline Myers, and is located in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Lenape Nation.

All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Shuttle service is included from the local airport and bus stations, or you can park on site. You’ll receive more information about logistics after you register.

Our Mission in Action

Share Your Story, Inspire a Child
Scholarships
Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
Partners & Sponsors

The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.