top of page

Incarnation Fall Retreat 2023

Saturday night singalong at last year's retreat

Hooray — registration for the fall retreat opens today!

Last year, our first-ever fall retreat was SO MUCH FUN, despite a hurricane that forced us indoors and made for a very wet, muddy, and noisy weekend. We learned a lot and made a few tweaks this year, while keeping a similar format overall. Read below for all the information and then register to secure your spot (we filled up last year)!

When is the fall retreat?

Friday-Sunday, October 6-8. There is no formal programming on Friday, October 6, but many people appreciate the opportunity to ease into the weekend at a more relaxed pace by coming early, setting up camp/bunk, and simply hanging out. Check-in begins at 9am on Saturday, and the retreat officially ends around noon Sunday. (Please note that the following Monday, October 9, is Indigenous People's Day.)

What is the point of a fall retreat?

Jesus modeled a pattern of retreating from the demands of everyday life to be with his Father. When we step away from our busy lives to retreat, we follow his example and trust his promise of rest. The weekend will provide opportunity for rest and reflection in a beautiful, natural setting.

Jesus didn't only retreat alone, however; he also retreated with his disciples to experience God's restorative care together. That's the model we'll follow as we retreat together as a church community. Because we're a multigenerational church, our retreat will sometimes look more like a happy family reunion than a monastic silent weekend (though we hope to provide opportunity for quiet reflection for those who want it). The retreat is a wonderful opportunity to build and deepen relationships in the church through praying and playing together in a restful environment away from home.

Where is the retreat?

The retreat will be held at Camp Highroad, just one hour west of DC, with camping and bunkhouse options. The outdoor setting is beautiful, and the indoor accommodations are rustic but comfortable (camp-style facilities and shared restrooms).

What will we do?

Our retreat will focus on the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 6:5-13, usually called The Lord's Prayer. We will engage this scripture on Saturday morning through hands-on activities, group discussion, quiet contemplation, and personal reflection. Then Saturday afternoon brings a long block of free time that you can fill however you like: guided prayer and reflection, art activities, camp activities (weather permitting), naps, prayer and confession appointments, walks, games, communal cooking, and more.

Saturday evening will be a worship night of songs, hymns, and prayers, followed by a campfire. And on Sunday morning we'll close our time with something called an “Instructed Eucharist” — our usual Sunday liturgy, but explained with some hands-on opportunities to participate so that we all come away with a deeper understanding of why we do what we do. (Please note, there is NO church service at Drew Elementary that Sunday morning!)

The entire weekend will be a joyful time of singing, praying, playing, cooking, creating, talking, and resting together. A rough schedule is provided at the bottom of this letter.

Is there a speaker?

No. We will learn from scripture, from each other, from nature, from the Eucharist, and from the Holy Spirit — but this isn’t a learning-heavy retreat (what Ruth Haley Barton calls a “conference in the woods”). The focus is on community, play, rest, and joy.

How should I prepare spiritually for the retreat?

We know how hard it is to get away for the weekend, so there is no required preparation; come just as you are. However, for those who wish to do some spiritual preparation, we have the following recommendations:

  • Read The Lord's Prayer by Wes Hill, a short and beautiful book. We will have a few copies available at the church, or you may order your own.

  • Read the chapter on The Lord's Prayer from The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. The entire chapter is available to read online here.

  • Consider your drive to the retreat a time of preparation. Take deep breaths, spend some time in silence (if possible), and reflect on these questions either alone or with those in your car:

    • What are you feeling thankful for as you come to this retreat?

    • What feels difficult as you come to this retreat – what is causing you worry or stress?

    • What do you need from God on this retreat?

What about children and youth?

This is a kid-friendly retreat, and will include opportunities for kids to engage the same scripture and activities as the adults. In addition, volunteers permitting, we hope to provide new options for children and youth this year:

  • A separate one hour kids' activity during a portion of the Saturday scripture discussion

  • A youth lunch and free time activity

  • Childcare opportunities on Saturday afternoon so parents can enjoy a brief rest

The registration form includes a place to indicate willingness to help with children and youth. Please consider giving an hour or two of your time to retreat with our kids (consider it a fulfillment of the promises we make at every baptism)! Volunteers must be child-safety trained and background checked, or willing to become so, before the retreat.

Because this is a multigenerational retreat, we will provide a child safety overview to all participants before the retreat, and will require everyone to abide by our child safety policy throughout the duration of the weekend (this policy will be provided in advance and is required reading before the retreat).

Will there be music?

This is Incarnation — birthplace of the Trombolele (trombone + ukulele), home of the "All Y'all" choir, church of a thousand instruments — of course there will be music! Cory Warden and Anna Pienaar will lead worship throughout the weekend, and musicians of all abilities are invited to bring instruments and join in Saturday night's singalong.

What about meals?

Because Incarnation loves a good eclectic potluck, we will prepare several of our meals communally and everyone is invited to participate. This was most people's favorite part of the retreat last year!

We will have gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan options for all meals, and you can indicate your dietary needs on the registration form. And new this year, EVERYONE will be assigned a cleanup role after a meal to help wash dishes.

What are the accommodations like?

Camp Highroad has two sleeping options: camping or bunkhouse. Camping takes place in a large open field surrounded by trees near the lodge; you’ll have access to fire rings, picnic tables, and all the indoor spaces of the lodge for restrooms, showers, kitchen, etc. Campers must provide all their own equipment. (Disclaimer: last year camping was rained out, so we haven't tried it yet and will surely learn some things this year!)

The bunkhouse provides simple indoor accommodations (think summer camp); each room includes multiple bunk beds and a sink. Communal men’s and women’s restrooms with multiple toilets/sinks/showers are down the hall. Families will have private rooms; singles will bunk together (separated by gender).

Accessibility: Although the common areas and most bedrooms are wheelchair accessible, the restrooms are, unfortunately, quite narrow. Please reach out to us with accessibility questions, and we can coordinate with Camp Highroad for detailed responses.

COVID precautions: There are varying levels of caution and vulnerability within our community. We will follow Camp Highroad’s guidance: masks optional in all indoor spaces. The lodge opens to the outside with good air ventilation, and many of our activities can take place outdoors. There are picnic tables available for eating meals outside.

What does it cost?

Camping is $25/night/adult and $20/night/child over 5. Bunkhouse is $45/night/person (same price for adults and children over 5). Children 5 and younger are free. All meals are included in your registration fees.

For those who wish to come just for the day Saturday, the cost is $25/adult and $20/child. If you register for the day Saturday, you are welcome to return for the morning program on Sunday.

Please note, payment is due at the time of registration. We want the retreat to be available to everyone, regardless of cost, so please email Russell ( to request financial assistance. And if your plans change and you need a refund, just email Russell.

What do I bring?

We will provide a comprehensive packing list before the retreat, but the supplies are basic: snacks, all-weather clothes, a bible/journal, and bedding (plus camping gear for those camping).

What about Sunday church?

Sunday morning of the retreat will serve as our church service (i.e., NO Sunday Service at Drew). The internet is very weak at Camp Highroad, so we will not be able to livestream this service. Even if you aren't sleeping onsite, please come for the morning if you can!

Ready to sign up? Register here!


bottom of page