Skip to main content
  • Funding Database

    We invite you to explore a full list of our partners and projects since 2015 in our funding database.
  • Can you love a Democrat? How about a Republican? Here's how we can bridge our divisions.

    A USA Today viewpoint from Fetzer Institute President & CEO Bob Boisture
  • Transformative Friendships Build Bridges

    How our most important campaign in life—and philanthropy—is for our shared humanity. Read the full piece from Fetzer VP of Ally Development Rodney McKenzie, Jr., which originally appeared in the Council of Michigan Foundation's annual report.

The Latest

people seated in circle with speaker at microphone
Taxonomy TagNews

Decision-Making Factors for Group Retreats

Scheduling group retreats for GilChrist and making decisions about what we can accommodate is a monumental task each year. The process is a complex overlay of practical, philosophical, and relational considerations. You should see our gloriously chaotic poster of sticky notes!

For 2023, we fielded more group retreat requests than we can accommodate, especially for high-demand dates, which meant we had to decline some requests. The upsides are that retreat is in high demand and the overflow will hopefully benefit other centers in our retreat network. But we also know some folks we care about will be disappointed, and that’s hard.

As we lean into the dynamic tensions inherent in making these decisions, it feels important to make our process as transparent as possible. Toward that end, here’s a list of factors that have gone into our scheduling for 2023. If you have questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out!


  • We mark off all dates that we need to reserve, like Fetzer Institute board meeting dates, GilChrist Thanksgiving and winter holidays, and other holiday weekends. We don’t schedule group retreats for holiday weekends unless specifically requested (and even then, we make sure the facilitator knows they requested a holiday weekend).
  • We also reserve time in the schedule for…
    • One good (non-holiday) weekend per month for solo retreats
    • Spring (early April) and fall (early October) maintenance closure
    • Cabin deep cleaning Monday-Thursday (January-February)


  • Winter weekends (January-March) are lower-demand times and usually easier to accommodate.
  • Weekdays (especially Tuesday-Thursday) are lower-demand times and usually easier to accommodate, especially if they are next to solo weekends.
  • We suggest lower-demand dates if…
    • The facilitator has two or more repeat offerings that are similar in content to several other retreats (or just schedule one request)
    • A new retreat is requested for high-demand dates
    • A retreat open only to a select group is requested for high-demand dates
    • The facilitator has cancelled in the past due to lack of participation
  • If we can’t accommodate a group…
    • We refer them to our other neighborhood centers
    • We refer them to retreat center networks to explore options (RCC and RetreatFinder)


  • Does the emphasis on contemplative space feel like a good match with GilChrist?
    • With open curiosity, we will ask for clarity when groups express a desire to push the capacity limit for WindHill or if they seem to have overly ambitious agendas.
    • We don’t generally reserve space for things like business meetings, networking, or strategic planning.
  • Does our overall slate of offerings reflect diverse topics, practices, and facilitators?
  • Is the proposed content of the retreat unique and detailed?
  • What is the value of preserving the relationship and retreat home for a longer-term group? Has the group held a mutual care for GilChrist’s space, mission, policies, and staff in the past? What is the quality of our relationship as it relates to feedback and overall communication?
  • What is the opportunity to cultivate a relationship with a new facilitator and their participants?
  • Are folks demonstrating efforts to articulate specific strategies for diversity, equity, and inclusion? For example:
    • Do facilitators leading practices from traditions outside their own background and identity demonstrate awareness of borrowing respectfully?
    • Are there specific strategies for economic access?
    • Are there specific strategies for the inclusion and safety of historically excluded people?
  • Does the overall need for support from our staff allow us to work in a spirit of contemplation and peace, in reciprocal relationship with maintaining an atmosphere of retreat for our guests?

Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma, head caretaker for whole systems design at GilChrist Retreat Center, seeks to live a deeply rooted life as a guest of the Potawatomi people at the intersection of the Rocky, Portage, and St. Joseph Rivers

Read More ►
No description.

Our Work

We picture a world where we understand we are all part of one human family and know our lives have purpose. Learn how we work toward this vision.
No description.

Our Community

Our people are the treasured fabric of our organization. Understanding the Fetzer Institute begins with meeting the members of our community.
No description.


 Our library of publications, videos, and tools is an important product of the work we do. Browse our collection or search by a specific topic.

Meet Our Staff

View All Staff
Rylee Prach
Program Assistant
Cameron Holtman
Technical Support Assistant
Lauren  Lott
Program Assistant
    Back to Top