Conscious Connection Retreat FAQs
What is Unique About this Retreat?
We Gather for an Extended Period of Time.
Many of us have been consciously involved with the personal growth process for years; but we have seen that most people struggle to be able to incorporate those processes into their daily lives. Our retreat is long so that there is time for real issues to come up -- i.e., relationships form and shift, people push their edges, folks get upset at each other. Campers support each other to work through these issues in new ways. As a result, in the words of one of our participants from last year, "Ideas become practiced ways of being."
Group Practices Supporting Transparency and Understanding.
Many shared practices bind the community together: ZEGG Forum where people can share deeply and be compassionately witnessed by the community, Going Deeper where we nurture our interpersonal connections, Love Pods where people can check in with a small "family" group, Morning Circle where we connect and get ready for the day together, and Karma Yoga- working together to share the tasks of cleaning, cooking, childcare or whatever needs to be done to take care of each other on the physical plane.
Powerful and long-lasting. People change their lives as a result of camp - new jobs, new communities, new projects. Most participants wind up connected with other participants on an ongoing basis.
Besides being a wonderful escape from some of society's repressive social constraints, retreats can be an intense personal and interpersonal experience. As such, it offers opportunities and challenges to face our own innermost inconsistencies, insecurities, and instabilities, and to encounter and respond to those of others. Be aware that not every situation may be to your liking, and that you are always at choice to participate or not. Traditionally, many campers practice multiple loving relationships. However, this retreat is a place where all relationship choices and orientations are honored equally.
Do I need a partner?
Q: Can I come to the retreat alone or should I bring a partner?
A: We welcome singles, partners, threesomes and moresomes. Many people will be attending as a single and looking forward to meeting others.
Q: Will I have time to explore the nearby area?
A: Not really, during the camp. Unless you bring your own car and skip some of the programs. The events happen in rural areas that require a bit of time driving to get to most sites of interest.
Q: How can I meet and interact with people before the retreat? Do I really need to have a Facebook account?
A: We know that having a Facebook account is a personal choice and some choose to not have one for various reasons. The reality is that for us, Facebook provides the most readily accessible way to create community, disseminate information about events and presenters, and answer questions from participants. Because there is a proven quality of performance and ease of use for most participants, it is the most practical choice.
If you wish to be part of the event, but not have a Facebook account, we invite you to create a temporary account for this event only then delete it after.
What about nudity?
Q: Are there clothing-optional places at the event? Are there limits to when and where that is okay?
A: We ask you to cover up your bottom in the public areas around the main house, dining area and tents. The river swimming areas are clothing optional, and many workshops will be too. Being without a shirt is fine. WITHOUT QUESTION, one is to be clothed where one can be seen from the public road or the parking areas. This is important for the future relationships with the neighbors.
Carry something to sit on of your own if you want to attend workshops in the nude.
EMOTIONS & Triggers
Q: What if I get triggered and lots of emotions are coming up for me? What if I get into a conflict with someone?
A: We want this to be a safe space for you to have your feelings, and the subject matter may indeed bring up feelings for some. We will have people every day who have volunteered to be on the Compassion Team, who you can share with. We will also be having times in small groups every morning for connection and sharing. We will have a Conflict Resolution Team for issues that need mediation.
Q: Are there any emotional support systems I can access if i need it?
Yes, we encourage you to attend the small support groups called Pods, where you share compassionate listening with a small group.
You can also contact the event leaders for a paid private therapy session.
Q: I've heard you do a lot of hugging at these events. I'm not sure I want that. Will I be rejected and isolated if I don't participate? On the other hand, is it okay to just hug everyone?
A: Hugs are indeed quite popular at events. However, even more important is the belief that everyone is at choice and needs to take responsibility for themselves. This includes communicating your desire to be hugged or not. Unless otherwise agreed, it is important to ask before touching.
Q: I see that you value transparency. Do I have to tell everyone everything?
A; Transparency and radically honest communication means being open to verbalize anything that is in your heart, including the parts that you are most reluctant to verbalize. And radical honesty comes under a higher rule, namely, being at choice. So we support you being at choice as to whether you want to be a little honest, radically honest, or not honest at all. At the same time, we suggest that you be aware that radical honesty is one of our core values.
Q: Can I attend for just part of the time?
A; No, this retreat is only for people who attend the entire time. If you have to leave early, you still pay for the full retreat. Everyone must attend from the beginning for all our orientations.
What can I expect in the sexual culture at the retreat?
How open are people? Is everyone having sex with everyone else all the time?
Most workshops and exercises offered at camp are entirely non-sexual. And you will find that the degree of sexual interest at this retreat runs a full spectrum. For many of us, sex isn't that big of an attraction. And for some of us, sexual exploration is a natural consequence of an environment where intimate heart-centered connections are encouraged and supported. If any attendee chooses to think sexy thoughts or engage in sexy activities (alone or with others), we have no rule against this. Neither are many attendees likely to have much cultural programming against this. In this way we are somewhat unique.
We are also unique in the emphasis we place on safety, mutual respect, kindness, nurturing, compassion, intimacy, transparency, radical honesty, choice, non-violence, equality, acceptance, active listening, and community building. We do ask that campers confine their personal sexual activity to the privacy of their own tents. Occasionally there are also guided safer-sex oriented activities like sensual and erotic touch, Tantric exercises, etc. These events, like all camp events, are entirely optional.
FIRE & Hot Water
Q: Can we build fires or burn candles or incense or sage?
A: ABSOLUTELY NOT. No open flames of any kind, excepting in the smoking area to light up.
Q: How can I be sure to have enough hot water for a shower?
A: Conserve! Sharing close, intimate space is always more pleasant with clean campers, yet the septic system is limited. One way to conserve hot water is to get wet, turn off the water, lather and shampoo with the water off. Turn it back on to rinse. Or better yet, shower with a friend!
Is it likely to rain? What clothes should I bring?
A: Yes. But not much in August. Come prepared to get wet. But it's also summer, so be prepared for it to be hot!
Bring your cool clothes for those hot days (80's), something a bit warmer for the cooler (typically mid 70s to high 60s) evenings, and something even warmer for the occasional chilly night. By all means, bring fun clothes to dress up in, dance in, party in, be COMFORTABLE in, spend some time in, or not!
Q:. Is it okay to miss meetings or show up late to workshops and other scheduled events?
A: You are entirely at choice. Unless the presenter has requested no one join after the presentation has started, or has a limited number of spots open, you will be welcome when you finally get there. However, the intention is to start presentations on time in order to honor the presenters. It is also respectful not to expect others to summarize for you what you have missed, or to jump in on a discussion about which you know little.
Q: How are the Touch Temples used?
A: These spaces are intended for private sessions or intimate time for those who do not have their own rooms or tents and are sharing a dorm space.
We will have sign-up sheets for the temples, and please respect the time boundaries of the time slot you signed up for. Bring a watch!
If someone is still in the temple overtime and you are next waiting for it, you may remind them that it is now your turn. Even if they sound like they are having fun!
Bring your own sheets, towels, oils, etc. Clean up after yourselves. Please be discreet about the sounds you are making so others are not disturbed.
What is Consent Culture?
Foster Consent Culture
We practice being responsible for requesting our own boundaries and asking for help in doing so. This includes physical, energetic (psychic space), verbal, and emotional boundaries and unintended projections on those around us.
We commit to being in the discomfort of learning our boundaries as we lean into new experiences.
Respect others’ edges and boundaries. Be excited about receiving a no.
We practice affirmative consent – a verbal yes means yes, silence is not necessarily a yes. We strive to cultivate more awareness of nonverbal cues and clarify those with verbal confirmations.
We strive to become aware of our own unspoken desires. What might we want that’s subconsciously driving our actions?
In our community, we sometimes choose to play in intimate space. There is no assumption you participate in anything you don’t want. And we are in the constant discovery of our boundaries as we lean into our edges and shadows.
We practice saying no, even after the fact.
We notice what power dynamics might be at play that could be affecting our ability to say no or others’ ability to exercise their power of consent.
If we feel safe and willing when our ‘no’ was not heard clearly, we communicate directly with the person we share conflict with. We remember that there are people in this community here to help and that we are not alone.
We talk with a member of the Organizer Team and/or the facilitator of the event about boundary and consent violations directly and as soon as possible.
Q: What is the deal with all these different pronouns?
A: In this community, we want to build a safe enough container to genuinely invite people of all expressions to consciously relate. We honor and welcome all gender identities and thus, pronouns. Pronouns are an individual's expression of their own gender identification.
The most common one are she/her, he/him, they/them. They/them pronouns typically refer to someone’s identity as being non-binary or gender non-conforming, although it is different for each person. Other pronouns are entirely welcome.
As we strive to honor ourselves and one another, please be respectful and intentional when referring to other people. Remember to use their correct pronouns during our entire event (and beyond!). We also ask that you respect that people have triggers and potential wounds for not being acknowledged in how they want to be acknowledged. As such, please don’t joke as you introduce your pronouns. Not having to think about your gender pronouns is a privilege.
If you do not understand this gender and non-binary terminology, we invite you to be curious, engage in a welcoming conversation with those who feel resourced (like the facilitators), and don't assume you know. You also are welcome to have your own discomforts if you don’t understand or agree. We welcome your discomfort and curiosity. We do not welcome creating an unsafe environment.