Creative Retreat

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2019 Creative Retreat

Creative energy for your projects & your soul!

Oct. 4-6th, 2019

Attendance is limited in both tracks. Register now.

Get away from the busyness of life for a weekend this fall

Take time to slow down at our annual retreat for creative people along the scenic banks of the Jacks Fork River in the historic Ozark Waterways. There will be time to learn and time to create. Participants will stay in rustic cabins and enjoy family-style meals in the dining hall. Grab a friend and register early! Registration opens May 1.

Your choice of two tracks (each limited to 15 participants):

WRITE YOUR LIFE with international author Ibtisam Barakat

A memoir writing workshop with renowned poet and memoir writer Ibtisam Barakat.

During this weekend at Bunker Hill, you will slow down to look at your life, find the moments that can become brilliant expressions of poetry or storytelling and can connect you with yourself and the world at once. Come grow your voice, your self-understanding and your art of writing. At this workshop you will laugh and possible cry as you meet hidden parts of yourself, and have fun saying hello, connecting with your child self, adolescent self, grownup self, writer self and artist self.

SKETCHBOOK JOURNALING (no artistic talent required) with artist Mary Gainey

Sketchbook Journals, The Bunker Hill Corps of Discovery

We are going to embark on a Corps of Discovery at Bunker Hill on the Jacks Fork River. Just as Thomas Jefferson clearly directed Lewis and Clark to document “your observations with great pains and accuracy,” we shall do likewise with our sketchbook journals. Eight men on the Lewis and Clark expedition recorded everything from wildlife, landscapes, native people, and trees, to camp life and map making. The journals were issued to the men, along with the finest pen nibs and stoneware inkbottles from France. Keep in mind, there was not one single “artist” employed for the expedition, so all the drawings and writings were entirely untrained documentation, and that includes invented spellings! “I employ myself, drawing,” wrote William Clark, and we shall do the same. The modern educator is familiar with the connection of right and left brain. The concept of sketching and journaling is very useful in educational settings where direct visual contact and descriptive writing can develop deeper understandings. In drawing and writing, we shall connect, unabashedly, unapologetically, and faithfully, committed to giving this adventure the focus that Jefferson directed. We shall set out to explore, to draw, and to write about the common and extraordinary things we see at Bunker Hill. We can write poetry, essays, descriptions, prayers, or reflective musings. None of us will be graded on how we draw or write!

Fee: $240 for members; $280 for nonmembers. Includes workshop fee and lodging in shared cabins Friday and Saturday; three meals on Saturday, and breakfast and lunch on Sunday.

Scholarship opportunity

A scholarship is available for MSTA members for the retreat. Please submit an essay of no more than 200 words explaining what the Creative Retreat could do for you. Email your essay and complete contact information to Sarah Kohnle at by May 1.

FAQ about the Creative Retreat

Do I have to be a published or professional writer to attend? Absolutely not. Do you love to write or to create? This weekend will give you tools to elevate whatever type of writing you do. It’s your chance to be away from distractions and soak up a dose of creativity from our faculty, participants and nature. If you don’t have a WIP (work in progress), consider coming armed with goals. Perhaps you’d love to submit an article or a poem to a magazine or website. Look up submission guidelines and be ready to write accordingly.

What’s this about a silent auction? Each year, participants donate items for a silent auction for scholarships. Examples from previous retreats include baskets of personal care products, books, handmade items, and whatever great stuff you find around the house (we endorse re-gifting, no shame!). Thanks for supporting our ability to award scholarships! Please bring a checkbook or cash if you think you might be inclined to do a little bidding.

How can I get a scholarship? The scholarship deadline is May 1 of every year. MSTA members may submit an essay of no more than 200 words to Sarah Kohnle ,

What are accommodations like?

Think summer camp for adults. The rustic cabins are supplied with pillows, linens, towels and bar soap. Many of the cabins are near the scenic river and have covered porches where you can enjoy the outdoors. Every cabin is air-conditioned; some have fireplaces. The sandy beach is a great spot for a campfire.

What about food?

At Bunker Hill, you will enjoy time traveling with home-cooked classics like fried chicken or beef and noodles, all with sides and dessert, served family style. A salad bar is always available during lunch and dinner if you prefer a vegetarian or vegan meal. Huge pancakes or eggs are often on the breakfast table, as well as cereal, yogurt and fruit.

Can I bring my own food?

You are welcome to bring your own food if you have specific dietary requirements. Be sure to pack a cooler, as there are no refrigerators in the cabins. Bags of ice are available for purchase in the office.

How early can I arrive?

The gates open after 1 p.m., and you may check in anytime Friday afternoon. Please stop at the office to confirm your cabin assignment on the clipboard on the office door. You may enjoy many of the recreational opportunities on the grounds or sit by the river and simply relax. Dinner is on your own Friday night, but snacks and beverages will be provided during the informal meet and greet at 7 p.m. upstairs at Behrens Hall (labeled OFFICE on map).

What should I wear?

October weather at Bunker Hill is usually glorious — warm in the day with a slight nip in the air morning and night. Pack casual clothes and think in layers. Bring walking shoes or boots if you plan to hike around, and water shoes/sandals if you want to play in the river. Might be wise to toss in a rain jacket, too.

What else should I pack?

Personal toiletries,

Laptop/notebook & pens

Personal snacks

Bug spray

Camping chair

Beach towel


Booklight (if you like to read in bed)

A mind ready to learn

What about WIFI?

The beauty of Bunker Hill is that you can really unplug because cellphone service and wifi is very spotty. If you really need to check emails and messages, you might have to hike up a hill to get phone reception or jump in your car and head to town. Family can always reach you through the Bunker Hill office (417-934-2333) and leave a message.

It sounds rather remote. What if something happens?

Please be assured that there is a town less than 20 minutes away if you need to make a run for extra snacks or supplies, or if you have an emergency that requires medical assistance.

How do I get there?

If you are flying, your best bet is to fly into SGF (Springfield-Branson International Airport) and rent a car. Bunker Hill is about a 2-hour drive from Springfield, MO. It’s about 3 ½ hours from both St. Louis and Columbia, and 4 ½ hours from Kansas City. Check the main Bunker Hill website for more information. Participants will receive final instructions and a map in September. Since cell service could get spotty, it’s handy to have a map at your side.

Can I bring family?

Non-participating family members are welcome at the regular weekend rate listed on There is plenty for them to do around Bunker Hill while you soak up inspiration from our faculty. Be sure to indicate at registration if you wish to book a family cabin.

What about signing up my kids?

There is a minimum age of 18 for participants in the retreat. Many of our participants are educators and appreciate time away from students.

Here’s what past CR participants considered the most beneficial aspect:

“Focus provided on writing in a wonderful environment away from cell phones, computer Internet and distractions.”

“Focusing on writing without distractions.”

“I learned how to use my camera. Bill was very helpful and willing to answer all questions.”

“I felt I was introduced to new ideas to stimulate writing.”

“Camaraderie and rest.”

“It gave me a chance to laugh and unwind in nature.”

Contact Sarah Kohnle at for more details.

Visit Bunker Hill in 2019