Hi my name is Tara Lynn, I’m the founder of Wonderfield Farm and Grove! Since hosting nature retreats in Florida and around the globe for the past five years, I can’t say enough about how impactful these gatherings can be. One, very important, thing to remember is – it’s about nature. As a retreat designer, facilitator, teacher, host, whatever you are – these retreats are where you can step back and let nature lead.
From the research and work of Kurt Hahn in Germany, who founded the concept of “wilderness therapy” to the research and discoveries of Dr. Wallace J. Nichols who coined the understanding of “Blue Mind” – we have the science and proof that nature is a healing force. Now, with these understandings, we guide our students into the presence of nature to heal.
Below I share a few key tips to remember when planning your nature retreat in Florida.
“In transcendent moments provided by nature, we stand in awe, grandeur, and wonder. As hiker Adrian Juric says, the elements ‘resist the sense of self we have worked so hard to establish’ and have the capacity to humble us. These experiences in nature are remarkable not just for their momentary impact, but, more important, for the effects they have when we return to our regular lives.” -Wallace J Nichols
– Find a retreat space that has built a relationship with nature. Ensure their spaces inspire you to get outside, versus being inside in the name of comfort and convenience.
– Find a retreat space that has access to nature! One that backs up to a state park for example, or one that is on land with ample space to wander, get lost, and explore.
– Find a retreat space that respects nature. Is the center working with nature? Or against her? Do they practice sustainability, permaculture, or have any sort of ethos weaved into the center that gives back to the land? This will be important for your nature retreat, as it is weaved in to your retreat intention (discussed later).
“The wilderness is healing, a therapy for the soul” -Nicholas Kristof
October – May are the best months to host in Florida as it’s more temperate weather, less bugs, and outside of hurricane season
December – February can get quite cold, so prepare accordingly. Hosting at a place that allows campfires, for example, is a great way to ensure active participation with nature even when it’s cold outside.
– Note that when the weather can be volatile, use it as a lesson and weave the it into your retreat. Embrace every aspect of nature, and don’t fight it. Some of my favorite hosting experiences have provided every type of weather possible. For example, once I had started a retreat and it was uncomfortably hot the first day, then an aggressive cold front blew threw the next day which caused a full day of rain (we even lost power and had to cook on the grill outside!), then a cold and dry day after. It was an incredible thing to witness, when truly observing.
“Being in nature quiets my mind, and out of that quietness is where the real art happens” -David Eisenhour
– Give back to nature. To spend a few days in a nature retreat, there needs to be some reciprocal action. Whether the retreat space you’ve chosen to host is doing this work, or, you create an intention for your group to do this. For example, if the retreat center you act as a patron with actively works to give back to nature, great. Or, you can lead your group in an exercise that gives back – plant some trees, donate a portion of your tickets to an environmental group, etc.
– Create a Container. To take people out of their normal lives, and into a rhythm with nature can be quite shocking for some. Create an intention for the retreat – digital detox, coming home to yourself, whatever it is make it clear and focus on this throughout the retreat. Remind your attendees why they’ve taken this time to be on retreat, in nature, investing in themselves. Create workshops, meditations, around this container and theme and continue bringing your guests back to this space.
Some ideas for workshops that naturally incorporate nature: tai chi, the Japanese art of forest bathing, painting / drawing nature, walking meditations, gardening, etc.
– Give ample free time to wander, pause, reflect. Let your attendees truly BE in nature. One thing I often see retreat hosts try do is to pack the schedule with a lot of activities and workshops and things to keep attendees busy because they forget point #1 REMEMBER, IT’S ABOUT NATURE. I will say it again, give AMPLE time for your attendees to wander, get lost, and be on natures time. It is vital to a successful nature retreat.
Please reach out at email@example.com if you want any more inspiration on how to host your nature retreat in Florida.