What to expect on a Retreat...
As I Am™ is a three-day experiential retreat for men familiar with LDS culture or who have some type of LDS experience or connection.
It takes places in a variety of settings from campsites to luxury vacation homes.
As part of your retreat experience you will have semi-private sleeping accommodations and seven meals.
The retreat consists of exercises, activities, instruction, discussion, and time for reflection and spontaneous connection. You will experience these in both large and small group settings.
We believe that agency is a foundational law of the universe and of this retreat experience. Your participation in the retreat and any of its activities is completely voluntary. Any man may pass, with no shame about making that decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an “experiential” retreat?
How often can you say about your life that “I learned the hard way?” Life is an experience and that’s how it usually teaches us, experientially. It is in this spirit that an experiential retreat attempts to approximate life with activities that allow participants to learn while “doing.” Unlike life however, these experiences take place in a safe environment which allows time for analysis, reframing and even repeating the experience differently. Safety (physical, emotional and spiritual) is integral to any of the processes.
How is an experiential retreat different than a conference or a class at church?
An experiential retreat is meant to be experienced, not witnessed. A conference or seminar requires passive participation - you sit, listen and learn. An experiential structure encourages active participation. For example, instead of reading a story to you, we may invite you to try on the shoes of one of the characters to see how they fit.
While there will be some teaching moments, even the teaching defaults to a more participatory discussion. The teaching moments are then supported by activities to help you practice what you have learned, implementing your new knowledge in real time with the support of your brothers. Enrollment is limited, with a low participant to staff ratio, which enables each participant to have the space and support he needs.
What is a “common” or “familiarity with” LDS experience?
The LDS experience, while growing out of a religious history is so much more. The connection to which we refer includes personal, cultural and historical realities. Each of us has been impacted by and reacted differently to these realities, so at As I Am™, we welcome each man’s unique experience without judgment and seek to support him in his life’s journey.
Participation on the retreat is open to any man with an LDS experience, identity, history, or connection, regardless of his current standing or interest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes, but is not limited to:
men who consider themselves fully “active”;
men who consider themselves “inactive”;
men who have experienced or are experiencing some form of church discipline;
men who are former members of the church;
men in faith crisis;
men who may have issues with church culture or policies; and
men who have never been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but may have grown up around or been influenced by members of the LDS faith culture.
I'm interested! but... I'm afraid of having to be vulnerable with a bunch of men I don't know.
We hear you. Our modern culture doesn't teach men how to be vulnerable or give men permission to really address difficult things with each other. So, to help you feel more at ease, first, you will never be forced to do anything you don't want to do. You will always have the option to opt out of any activity. Second, we consciously and deliberately create a safe environment, so it feels natural to be vulnerable and share. Third, many of the activities are structured so that you experience the activity for yourself - in your own mind and body - at the same time as other men. We then invite you to share your insights after the experience. Fourth, we know what it's like to come to one of these retreats for the first time - we've all done it. We have intentionally created this retreat to be accessible so men can experience learning and growth without being overwhelmed.
We will invite you to be vulnerable with others because Christ was vulnerable with others and that's part of how brotherhood is created. The most important question though is whether you're willing to be vulnerable with yourself. Sometimes that's even harder than being vulnerable with others.
Is this retreat endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
This retreat was created and is presented by Discover Identity and its Men of Good Will™. We are individuals with a connection to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an even stronger connection to Jesus Christ. We believe that the concepts presented are consistent with the teachings of Christ and the Church. The retreat however was created and is presented independently of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and does not have an official endorsement or sponsorship.
Is this a religious retreat?
This is a men’s retreat that references Jesus Christ and his teachings as the best model for men to use to create their own sense and expression of masculinity. God and Christ are referenced frequently, most often by participants.
Is this a “reactivation” retreat?
We do not have an anticipated outcome for the participants with regard to participation in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We strive to provide an opportunity for participants to create their vision of self and assist in identifying and begin removing the obstacles that get in the way of living as that self. Any choices that individuals make regarding their relationship with the Church belongs to the them and will be respected and supported.
Is this a therapeutic retreat that addresses mental health or other serious emotional issues?
This is a peer led, personal leadership retreat. While it will explore how to access healthy emotions and how to get past self-limiting stories, it is not a “therapeutic” retreat as outlined in the question. There may be individuals serving as staff members who have mental health training and/or credentials, but they are serving at the retreat as peers, experienced in creating and supporting personal growth opportunities.
I've heard of retreats asking people to do "crazy stuff". Is this one of those?
That depends on your definition of "crazy," but no, that is not our intent. We use Christ's life as a model for our retreat. While some of his contemporaries may have thought he did some crazy stuff, we prefer to view His life as driven by a passion to do much good. The world can use more men who, like Christ, are willing to take a risk and lead the way in doing good. So, if we come off as crazy, it's because we're passionate about helping men unleash their most authentic masculine selves to do much good.
Why is this limited to men with an LDS experience or connection?
First and foremost, the LDS experience or connection allows participants and staff to share a common language and experience which is used as the foundation to quickly establish trust and connection. This includes familiarity with culture, history, “LDS-speak,” practices, and music.
Is this a retreat that will “bash” the Church or God?
This is not a retreat to “bash” anything. All participants and staff are encouraged to respect the beliefs of others, even if it differs from their own beliefs. Individuals are given the opportunity to look at their individual experiences and beliefs, including those around the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and God, even if those experiences are negative. The retreat does not promote one particular outcome other than to support men in finding resolution and peace, whatever that looks like for them.
What topics are covered on the retreat?
Some of what you will learn on the retreat is meant to be experienced in the moment to approximate the way we learned as children and in life; many of life's lessons come by experiencing them first hand. In broad terms all the topics are presented in light of the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and include:
Learning how my perceptions are about me
Understanding and navigating guilt and shame
Moving beyond loss
Are there men's groups following the retreat?
It is our intention to encourage men to integrate what they learn from the As I Am™ experience into their existing lives and brotherhoods, including but not limited to quorums, families, communities, or groups that men may wish to create whether independent of or in conjunction with Men of Good Will™. Participants are invited, and provided with tools, to enhance or deepen their already existing relationships.
That being said, Men of Good Will™ offers the following:
A four-week post-retreat integration group intended to help men incorporate what they learned on the retreat into their own lives, encouraging them to be men who are willing to go first by modeling healthy behaviors for others.
A Healer’s community for men who wish to acquire the skills necessary and make the commitment to facilitate future As I Am™ retreats as well as other healing and educational experiences offered by Men of Good Will™.
On-going offerings in the form of retreats, groups, and seminars.
Why does Discover Identity™ charge for the retreat?
If you compare the cost of similar retreats, As I Am™ is actually a steal. We would love to offer As I Am™ for free, but unfortunately, it costs money to operate. Our biggest costs are accommodations, food, travel costs for experienced facilitators, and materials. Discover Identity is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.
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If you have any additional questions please contact us via our Contact Page.