ABRAMS CREEK CONFERENCE AND RETREAT CENTER

 

 

For more than a decade, several of us have been organizing workshops, gatherings, and other events focused on personal growth, communication and cooperation skills, and helping heal our society and the Earth.  Finding a site for these events had been pretty challenging.  A few years ago, after hundreds of hours searching the Mid-Atlantic region, we finally found an attractive and suitable site:  stunning natural beauty, cool in the summer, sunny areas for gathering and shady areas for camping, a variety of indoor spaces, and a whitewater stream that underlines and defines the energy of the site. 

 

Since then, many of us have found ourselves drawn to that site, and found an almost magical energy there at all times of the year—not just during our events.  So when the owner of our site decided he was going to sell the place, I was discouraged at the thought of starting over to find a new one.  After talking with him, we worked out a way to buy the site from him—and we now own the Abrams Creek Conference and Retreat Center on 20+ acres of gorgeous land with a whitewater stream running alongside the length of it!

 

It feels like we have a whole new playground, and we’re still figuring out what games we can play there!    

 

We have two websites for Abrams Creek currently.  One is focused on the existing campground business (www.abramscreek.com), and one is just a starter page for our new focus on conferences and retreats (www.abramscreekcenter.com).  For those of you who haven’t been there, Abrams Creek is about 2 ½ hours west of DC.  They have just opened a new highway that goes most of the way there, and it will take even less time in a year or two when they finish the next section.  Abrams Creek is in a different weather zone, and in the summers it is usually 10-15 degrees cooler than DC, which makes it ideal for outdoor and nature-based events.  The cabins, cottage, and 4,000 square foot lodge house make it practical to have events all year long.

 

We are very open to new ideas and suggestions for ways to make use of this unique and magical facility.  For anyone who wants to create an event at Abrams Creek, we are ready with logistical and operational support.  One of the most important kinds of support is that Abrams Creek Center is designed to allow events to be put on at a *very* affordable price.  For instance, the cost to rent the entire facility for an event with 100 people could be less than $25 per person per day-- *including* food! Our plans are to offer many more kinds of workshops and events, do training for other organizers and activists, and host other groups and teachers who have positive, ecologically sensitive, and progressive goals. 

 

We are also interested in drawing others to the area who share these values.  We envision folks living near us or with us who have economically viable businesses of their own that permit them to earn a decent living, and that also might serve as a way to help revitalize the neighboring areas economically as well.  Or we can put our heads together and come up with new businesses that can work well far from the city.  And it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone living on the same piece of property; we are looking toward the more expansive vision we call an intentional village.

 

Lots of people would love to live away from the crowded cities, but find that a rural setting can be very limiting.  By being part of a cooperative village, many of the disadvantages of living in a rural area can be minimized. 

 

The main gathering structure at Abrams Creek is a 40’ geodesic dome that creates a unique and esthetic space that can handle 100 or more people.  It often came up that we needed a second large gathering space, so in the spring of 2011, we added a 30’ dome that can handle up to 50 people.  We’ll also be expanding the septic system substantially, installing more ecological heating systems, and more.

 

As event producers, we have gained a lot of expertise in the logistics of setting up (or *creating*) a facility, doing so rapidly, and having the entire event be *very* inexpensive.  We can use that expertise to help make even more difference in the world than we have so far.

 

Each year, we spend several days setting up for camp, and several more taking everything down.  But if we have many events at Abrams Creek, we can set up the outdoor facilities *once* in the early spring, and put everything away in the late fall.  This way, there is very little for each new group to do to get set up.  We want to make putting on transformative events as easy and inexpensive as possible, both for our own events and for other groups with similar values.

 

Here are some of the ideas that folks have come up with for possible events:

 

We have been putting on a 10-day summer camp that covers a wide range of issues, and is a fabulous experience for many people, but there isn’t time enough to go very deep into any one topic.  We could start to host *themed* camps in addition to our general summer camp.  For instance, we might have a Family Camp, with an emphasis on bringing in “families and their allies”.  We could have a Activism camp, with successful activists leading workshops on how to be more effective, avoid burnout, choose goals, etc.  We might offer a Teen Camp, or Health and Nutrition camp, or Socially Responsible Entrepreneurship, or ???  If we want to learn what it takes to transform a culture, we need to be looking at every aspect of human existence.

 

We can also have events that train people to be organizers, facilitators, and leaders.  For instance, we may have workshops to train facilitators for various kinds of group work, or event organizers, or counselors, or workshop leaders, or …

 

Which ones of these would happen would depend on which ones have 3, 4, or 5 people excited enough about them to conceptualize the event, spread the word, and handle the logistics necessary to make it happen.  The folks who have been putting on the 10-day summer camp for years will be available to help solve all the hundreds of little problems and arrangements that make putting on an event so daunting.  We’ve been playing with a phrase like “If you want to do an event, focus on bringing your toothbrush, because everything else will be taken care of!” That is an overstatement, of course, but we want to let folks know that *whatever* resource they need to get things to happen, we will help provide that.

 

We also want to open the space to other compatible groups as well; a core value of New Culture is affirming many paths.  If you know an organization that is putting on multi-day events for up to 200 people, please let them know that there is a spectacular facility that is also *very* affordable. 

 

I suspect there are a lot of groups out there that would benefit from having a multi-day conference, but it seems like it would be too intimidating or too expensive to put on.  Since we can provide whatever expertise they may lack, they can consider possibilities that would have been overwhelming before.

 

There are places that offer a variety of classes and workshops on personal growth, spiritual development, relationships, communications, etc., with well-known workshop leaders like Gangaji and Harville Hendrix.  The workshops aren’t too outrageous, usually $300-$400 for a weekend.  But staying at some of these places starts at $125 a night for a dorm room single, and goes as high as $300 a night!  Abrams Creek could offer similar courses at *much* lower rates, while providing a campus for this kind of learning.

 

 

These are just some of the ideas that have come up with how we can use our new playground.  I would be delighted to hear any other ideas that people may have. 

 

So thank you to all the folks who have helped make New Culture so powerful that it is worth creating a special place for it.  And for those who haven’t had a chance to come play—you’re invited!

 

Contact:

Abrams Creek Center

info@abramscreekcenter.com

WV:  304-446-5383

DC area: 703-755-0607