Instead, the Major General courageously designed and implemented his division’s retreat to the Port of Hungam, saving his soldiers' lives and enabling them to fight another day. And, more importantly, to simply live another day.
Smith famously said at the time, “Retreat, hell! We’re just advancing in a different direction!”
And that folks, gets to the heart of what a men’s retreat is:
A men’s retreat is an opportunity for you to step back from the challenges life is presenting--whatever they may be--so that you might advance again in a new direction.
Some really legit questions about a men’s retreat
Cairn & Sky is a new effort offering men’s retreats in extraordinary Jackson, Wyoming, so we have a few thoughts about what a men’s retreat is all about and, sincerely, whether or not one is right for you. We set out to answer your very legit questions in this, our first ever blog. Questions like:
That first question is answered in the story about General Smith: A retreat is an opportunity to step back from everyday life to find the time and space so that you might advance again in a new direction.
"Retreat, hell! We're just advancing in a different direction."
A retreat can be a powerful experience and we believe that if you are a guy with some questions, challenges, or dilemmas in his life, you will very likely benefit from going on one. If you are the spouse or partner of a guy like that--or the sibling, parent, or child of that guy--we think you will see how the retreat has benefited the man you love.
What are those benefits? There are too many to name and each guy will discover different ones--the chance to destress and reset; the chance to enjoy the outdoors; the chance to reflect, journal, and be quiet; and many more.
Two of the biggest and most consistent take-aways, however, are friendships and insight.
It’s remarkable the bonds of friendship you can create on an intentional five day retreat and the unexpected insights you can draw--insights that before retreat you may have thought were unrelated to the questions and challenges in your life; but which on retreat, you realize are actually fundamental to those questions and challenges--right at their beating heart.
Deep friendships and new insights
Should You Go on a Men’s Retreat?
A men’s retreat is not for everyone. Let’s talk about whether you should consider joining one.
Let’s face it. Life is complex on so many fronts:
Those are just a few reasons a retreat might be right for you. That said, there are as many reasons as there are men for taking time away to gain insight on challenges or dilemmas you are facing. For example:
You can allow this irritant to just bother you; or you can go on retreat and, like an oyster, take it as an opportunity for something better, and then nurture it into a glorious pearl.
Put another way, that shit you’re dealing with? It can be fertilizer to grow something new in your life.
Comparing Men’s Retreats
So, a men’s retreat is an opportunity to explore your path--your path of relationship, career, friendship, family, faith, health, passions, and more--so that you can clear a new path or at least discover the tools you need to navigate a path strewn with brush.
Given that broad description, it might be useful to know how various retreats differ.
There are a number of men’s retreat organizations out there. Some offer two day retreats; others like Cairn & Sky offer a 5-day experience to allow time not just to dig deep, but to adventure, to nurture new friendships, to have some fun, and to have time for quiet reflection.
Some are faith-oriented. There are a number of men’s retreats offered by churches for example. Others, like Cairn & Sky, are completely secular but of course welcome men of faith to share their stories of, and joys and struggles with, faith.
Some are urban. Others use nature as a backdrop for the retreat and stop there. At Cairn & Sky, nature is far more than a backdrop. The outdoors is integral to what we do. We believe there is benefit in taking three hours or five hours or even six or seven hours to get out on a hike, in the trees and then above the trees, to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching a mountain ridge, and to enjoy the utterly unscheduled time to talk freely with the guys around you about whatever you want--whether that is comparing MJ and LeBron, talking about sex after 20 years in relationship, or something else.
Some retreats are large--40 or 50 guys thrown together for 48 hours. Others are small. Cairn & Sky offers retreats with not more than 12 men at a time. We believe doing so allows men to form deeper bonds than is possible in a big group where time with any given person is necessarily limited. Those bonds are important during the retreat and simply essential afterwards.
Most retreats have some sort of philosophical approach. As mentioned, some are faith-based. Others are led by therapists or psychologists who will download their expertise to guys for you to then try to implement in your life. At Cairn & Sky, our philosophy is that the wisdom you need resides in you and in the small community of men we gather together on retreat. The job of our facilitators is not to download any particular expertise, but rather to create the time and space for you to find your own insights and to gather the wisdom of the men around you.
What will you actually do on a men’s retreat?
We are not going to give away all that happens on retreat, but here’s a bulleted overview of the highlights:
There’s more of course and, quite predictably, some unpredictable but wonderful things happen when you bring together a dozen men intent on exploring both the dirt paths that lead up a mountain and the experience-strewn paths that form the content of their lives.
Retreat to Advance Again
In the end, getting to Jackson, Wyoming, to meet 11 other guys, hike with them, talk with them, listen to them, and share a campfire with them, takes a big step by you. A sort of leap of faith that the dilemma you are chewing on needs a little something else to get resolved so that you may advance once again on your own unique path. If this doesn’t sound intriguing to you, that’s cool. Maybe we will meet another way. However, if the idea piques a bit at your heart, mind, or soul, take that leap today.
Our blogs are written by Jerry Casagrande and Scott Taylor, Co-Founders of Cairn & Sky. We are also interested in hearing your voice. If you have a topic you'd like to share with the Cairn & Sky community, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. We'd love to hear the idea and then maybe share it with the world right here.