Our Memorial Day Family Retreat starts Saturday and goes through Monday noon. The deadline for registration is May 15. My family has attended this retreat every year for the last twelve years. What brings us back every year? Mostly, it’s the chance to connect with other families in a way that just isn’t possible during our Sunday coffee hour. The Maine retreat also offers children the opportunity to spend extended time together and explore the outdoors.
The retreat takes place at the Notre Dame Spiritual Center, a retirement community of Franciscan brothers. There is a playing field just behind Denis Hall, our dorm. Nearby is a chapel, a Shaker museum, the Notre Dame Bakery, a very active frog pond, and woods with paths leading to a small cemetery, a Catholic shrine, and a herd of cows. Beautiful Bunganut Lake, where we swim and picnic, is just a short drive away.
Most rooms come with three twin beds; there are usually more than we need, allowing plenty of room for families to spread out. All-you-can-eat meals are served in the cafeteria, and are especially popular with kids. A typical dinner might be lasagna, ham, or roast chicken. There is always a salad bar with fresh fruit and vegetarian options. Families also bring snacks and goodies from home, which can be stored in our own fridge. Not having to cook or wash up is one of the most relaxing aspects of this experience!
While our retreats are loosely structured, we generally plan a few activities. For example, some adults might volunteer to lead games; kickball and Ultimate Frisbee are favorites. Typically, we break into small groups and just go exploring. Kids sometimes bring nets (see photo on flyer) for catching and inspecting frogs before returning them to the pondWe usually organize a swimming outing on Saturday or Sunday. When it’s chilly or rainy, there are ping-pong and pool tables in the recreation room. We also bring cards and board games, and organize craft activities such as beading, felting, or bracelet making when kids need to take a quiet break.
After dinner, there is always stargazing, night walks, and sometimes music, if people want to bring instruments. After the kids are asleep, parents often gather downstairs in the library for conversation.
On Sunday morning we meet for silent worship in the parlor– conveniently overflowing with cushions. The kids enjoy stacking their cushions into towers or build “Meeting Forts” to lounge in during this peaceful hour
I hope this paints a fuller picture of one of our favorite traditions! If you have any questions, please feel free to write firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-232-0937.