- What can I expect if I attend a retreat?
- Do I have to become a member?
- What is a typical schedule like for the day?
- Who attends Discovery?
- What kinds of workshops are there?
- What are Support Groups?
- What are accommodations like?
- Are accommodations weelchair-accessible?
- Do I get to sleep in my own room?
- What kind of food do you serve?
- What about alcohol and drugs?
- Do you allow nudity on the weekend retreats?
- Do the weekend retreats promote sex?
- But… Is it Safe?
- I have financial issues but still want to attend, what can I do?
- Can I come for part of the weekend?
Typically there are from 40 to 60 men in attendance, and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. The retreats include some structured activities to help participants relax and get to know each other, as well as plenty of unstructured time to hang out, engage in recreational activities, or quietly enjoy the splendor of the setting. The retreat facilitators guide the participants through workshops, discussion groups, personal support groups, and large group gatherings. The facilitators also organize less structured activities like volleyball, dance parties, and a popular “No-Talent” Show, in which retreat participants can share their talents (or lack thereof) with the entire group in a festive evening show. The “No-Talent” Show is also a great time for you budding drag queens to show your stuff as our “Bevy of Beauties” always kicks off the show.
All of the activities and workshops are optional, so to a large extent, what you get out of the experience is what you put into it. Minimally, you can expect plenty of opportunity to spend time befriending other gay and bisexual men in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Many retreat participants have developed long lasting friendships and committed relationships through the retreat, and by continuing to participate in the organization have found that Discovery provides an extended family for them. Each community gathering allows participants to build on those friendships, and make new ones. “It is a little scary going on a weekend with a lot of gay men that you don’t know. But I not only felt included, I didn’t want the weekend to end.”
There is no membership requirement. All gay and bisexual men are welcome to attend Discovery Community events. If you show up, you are a member of our Community.
All of the meals are provided, beginning with Breakfast that is usually served until about 9am. Then, we usually gather for an activity with the entire group before breaking into smaller support groups. After that, it is likely lunch time, which will be followed by an afternoon filled with multiple workshop sessions that you can choose to attend, and some free time. (Each day there is usually time set-aside for a 12-Step meeting.) After dinner, there may be an entire group activity, and fun activities such as dancing or board games or telling bad jokes by the fire.
Gay and bisexual men of all ages with all types of backgrounds attend our weekend retreats and monthly gatherings. The average age of men that attend is 35-45, but we have men in their 20s as well as men in their 70s. It is a wonderful mix of backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and beliefs.
The workshops vary for each weekend. Previous workshops have included Relationships, Dating, Sexuality, Body Image, Massage, Yoga, Family Relationships, Sweat Lodges, Meditation, Spiritual Paths, Hiking, Aging, Arts and Crafts, and many others. Generally, each weekend will provide a variety of workshops and activities for you to choose from.
Support Groups are smaller groups of 5-7 that meet each day during the retreat. The purpose of the group is to provide support for each member regarding their experiences and feelings during the weekend. The Support Groups are confidential space—what is said in the group, stays in the group. This is not a therapy group. It is there to offer love and support and allow you to open up and be more comfortable. The Support Group is lead by a designated member of the group. Typically, the Support Group offers time for each person to speak, while others listen. This can then lead into further group discussion on various topics. For many, it is often the most favorite activity of the weekend.
We use various retreat centers throughout the bay area and as far north as Ukiah. Generally, the retreat sites provide lodge or cabin facilities for us to sleep in. You will usually need to bring your own bedding. Many sites provide space for tenting as well. Remember when you went away to camp as a kid? Well, we use sites similar to those places. Each site has different amenities, but they all provide beautiful outdoor settings.
Generally, the retreat sites we use are accessible. It’s best to check with us or directly with the site to make sure all your requirements can be met. Some optional activities (e.g. hiking) may not be accessible.
The accommodations at the retreat sites we use are made for large groups. Therefore, you will most likely share a room with a few other guys. Sometimes, single rooms are available. However, we try to reserve private rooms for couples that are attending the retreat.
Many of the retreat sites we use provide and prepare the food. These sites are accustomed to large groups and various nutritional needs. For sites that do not provide catering, we hire our own caterer. We can always accommodate special dietary needs including vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, etc. as long as you let us know in advance when you register for a retreat. Some food we have had in the past are: lasagna, barbecued chicken, salads, hamburgers, beef stew, turkey, spaghetti, burritos, waffles, pancakes, cereal … you get the picture.
Discovery policy requires that all of our sponsored events and weekend retreats are to be drug and alcohol free.
Although Discovery events are clothed, some of the retreat sites we use have pools, creeks, etc at which you can sunbathe and swim in the buff.
The weekend retreats are intended to provide support for gay and bisexual men to develop healthy intimacy in their lives, with a focus primarily on personal growth and cultivating friendships and community. In that context, we do not promote an overtly sexual environment, as we want all participants to feel comfortable. Of course that doesn’t mean that men don’t have sex on our retreats, only that if they choose to have sex, we ask that they do it discreetly and in the privacy of their tent or cabin.
Actually we ask all attendees to abide by Discovery’s Guidelines for Behavior and Conduct during the Weekend:
“Discovery Men’s Weekends require an atmosphere of safety and respect for all participants. Therefore, any behavior that violates the boundaries of another (i.e. physical violence, sexual activity without mutual consent, etc.), or any behavior that poses a danger to oneself or others will be considered unacceptable for participation in the weekend.
Discovery Men’s Weekend is a clean and sober environment; no alcohol or drugs are permitted. Discovery Community, Inc. reserves the right to deny attendance to any individual and to request an individual to leave the weekend if his behavior warrants it.”
The retreat fees are set on a sliding scale basis. If the lowest fee on the scale is not affordable for you, we provide a limited number of Sponsorships for each retreat. You can apply for a Sponsorship to help cover the cost of the weekend.
The weekend retreats are not meant to be a drop-in type of weekend. In order to create a safe and trusting environment, it is important that all participants arrive on opening night. (Of course, unusual exceptions can be made and are handled on a case by case basis). But, if your intention is to arrive sometime in the afternoon of the next day, we respectfully request you stay at home. Your late arrival could be disruptive and is not fair to the other participants. In addition, it would diminish your experience as well, as you would have missed out on some important bonding of the group. In addition, it is important to remain at the weekend through the closing circle. Leaving early because you want to “beat the traffic” short-changes you and your fellow attendees.