It's a late Friday afternoon in early August when they start to arrive at the cash bar. Within a few minutes, the lounge is full of laughter and cheer as old friends reunite and newcomers are warmly welcomed.
The atmosphere is enthusiastic and expectant. No wonder.
These twenty-some women have much to look forward to. They have left their usual chores behind for a weekend of good wining, dining and camaraderie at a very hospitable conference center near Minneapolis.
Every year since 1995, this getaway has brought dozens of American women together from several different states, and even as far away as Scandinavia.
How did it all get started?
Many years ago, an executive member of a large, nationwide scholarship organization was nearing retirement age. The thought of losing contact with her network of interesting, professional women got her thinking.
"I must find way to keep in touch with this amazing group of women!"
Brainstorming this thought resulted in the idea of collecting women friends, relatives and friends-of-friends once a year for a weekend of open-hearted sharing and studying topics of interest to all. In this way her network would not only flourish, but could even expand.
She decided to call the event "The Great American Women Getaway" as it would allow American women to get away from life's usual demands and enjoy spending truly quality time together.
How is it organized?
Each year, the theme of the coming year is decided on during that Getaway. Everyone has a chance to contribute ideas. A few months later, all attendees receive a copy of the "Getaway Gazette" with a short article about each session that took place. In February, it is high time for the planning committee for the next Getaway to start finalizing ideas for the up-coming event. Everyone on the mailing list is contacted and volunteers are recruited to lead the various presentations.
The committee also researches possible women authors who might be interested in speaking about a recent book they have written. This is always a very inspirational highlight for the women.
As plans finalize, the committee sends out a description of the various sessions to encourage everyone interested to register as soon as possible. Those already on the mailing list are welcome to suggest new names of women who might be interested in the event. Everyone is always made warmly welcome.
As all preparation and planning is done by volunteers, there is only a small registration fee. Room and board at the conference center is provided at a reduced rate.
About a month or so before the start of the Getaway, final information is sent out.
Needless to say, this information boosts excitement even further.
Then, on a late Friday afternoon in early August, a gang of cheerful, enthusiastic gals of all ages gather at the conference center's cash bar and the fun begins!
What sort of topics are covered?
During the years, innumerable subjects have been explored during this weekend of fun discovery.
A complete list would require several pages, but here are a few topics from recent years:
Pioneer women on the trail West, Women and the Arts, being mothers and daughters, how the brain works, the history of the English language, reducing pollution, getting to know Annie Liebovitz, experiencing a labyrinth, sharing worldviews, making dream catchers, the art of patchwork quilting, the luxury of fragrant oils, drawing on the right side of the brain, hospice care, adoption.
An event that enriches women's lives year after year
The goal of the Great American Women Getaway is to connect interesting women with great ideas and good books. Strong and meaningful relationships are the result.
Perhaps you have been wondering about how to keep in touch with friends and family. Why not consider organizing a yearly retreat that gets everyone talking, sharing and learning together?