By Hailey Hirst
Doing creative work can feel isolating sometimes. Anyone who’s struck out on their own to build a business, or hone a craft, or thru-hike a big trail with a camera knows how difficult it can be to connect with the right people. We want to find friends who run on the same frequency, who get what it’s like to spin our wheels and get discouraged, and to keep working at it anyways.
Social media can connect us loosely with people doing what we are, but you can’t beat spending real time with people from wildly different circles in a really beautiful outdoor setting, without digital distractions. Cue Lodged Out – the unplugged retreat series for makers.
After my experience at the inaugural Lodged Out last fall, the concept of connectedness stuck with me.
I caught up with Retreat Founder Bobbilee Hartman to find out about the upcoming winter retreat happening February 26 – March 1, 2018 in Leavenworth, Washington, and learned her thoughts on the powers of connection and collaboration.
Interview below condensed for brevity and based on a phone conversation.
H: Who are you and what is Lodged Out?
B: My name is Bobbilee Hartman. I live in Minneapolis and I am a software engineer, and a lot of my days are spent planning unplugged retreats. One I’ve been doing for about four years is called Rails Camp and it’s for web developers, and the other one is Lodged Out – for a different community of people.
More specifically, Lodged Out is a retreat for makers, doers, adventurers, entrepreneurs and more.
H: Can you tell us a bit about the upcoming retreat?
B: The next retreat is in Leavenworth, Washington at Tall Timber Ranch. All morning until noon will be time for people to go sledding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing, and after that then the day will start.
I don’t have the whole agenda set, but the workshops will be Astrophotography with Jamey Erickson, Sustainable Fashion with Kathryn Sieve, Outdoor Stewardship with Katie Boue, Creative Writing with Erin Belair. Then we have two speakers set so far, Tyler Barstow, the co-founder of Vinyl Me, Please, and Tatiana Simonian, Tumblr’s Head of Entertainment and Media. We also have a musician performing – Red Porch Kid – who Tyler will live interview for the Vinyl Me, Please podcast which will be really cool.
That’s kind of the stuff that will go on. I’m doing some different raffles that will be more experience-based, like stays at cool lodges and boutique hotels that are outdoorsy and in cool towns.
H: That’s cool too because it extends the experience beyond the retreat to continue on in other places.
B: Yeah, the theme of experiences is what I’m going for. That reminds me, another raffle will be Pickathon tickets. That’s an experience-based music festival in Oregon. Everything is really intentional. It’s pretty small, and everyone has a reusable cup they use all weekend. They just do really different stuff and it reminded me of the attention to detail I try to put into my retreats, and how I try to make it a full experience, in many different ways.
H: It sounds like you’ve got a great mix of people and details planned. What are you looking forward to with this group? What do you think will be different than the first retreat?
B: I think it will be different being co-ed in general. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are coming, and just people who are interested in being independent and learning what that lifestyle may look like. I know we had that a lot at the last one, but I feel like this one has greater variety of inspiring people coming together.
I’m just so excited to meet people and learn how they became independent, how they took leaps into doing stuff, and how they’ve grown their communities.
I’m just so excited to meet people and learn how they became independent, how they took leaps into doing different stuff, and how they’ve grown their communities of people who support them.
H: Beyond the chance to unplug, what’s special about having these retreats in lodges or camps that take people into oudoor settings?
B: It’s something that I would want to do, which is why I did it. I wasn’t like, my goal in life is to get people to go outside more often, to be honest. That’s just been a total benefit of seeing people that don’t do it very often, do it, and relax, and play outside all day.
I love hiking all day, or being outside in pretty places. And I have been tying that in with some of the workshops being about sustainability, even more so at this one I think I’m more conscious of people respecting the land with everything going on right now in politics with Bears Ears and stuff.
H: After experiencing the last retreat, I know it’s kind of all just about bringing people together. Can you speak a little to that and the power of collaboration?
B: Yeah, it was really cool to see Cabin Love and Hustle and Hide do that collaboration after the first retreat. That was kind of the dream. I wanted innovative people to meet and make new things from their experience.
I’ve always loved people coming together and having community events. I think that’s maybe why I’ve always brought this into the work I do, and why it’s important to me. Different experiences I’ve had when people are all talking and sharing ideas authentically, and sharing stories – the feeling I have after going to something like that is slim to none for me. I like to read books, but I’d rather just go out and talk to people and learn some stuff.
I don’t know how to explain it. I just have this total feeling of when you jump in a cold lake or something…The energy it gives me being around people and talking and sharing ideas and stories has changed my life in so many ways.
I don’t know how to explain it. I just have this total feeling of when you jump in a cold lake or something. The endorphins and energy that it gives me, it’s like an extension beyond myself. The energy it gives me being around people and talking and sharing ideas and stories has changed my life in so many ways. That’s probably why I think this has to happen more, and that I need to create it if it’s not happening or the right people aren’t coming together. I see these talented people in certain areas of my life and I want all them to meet.
The most powerful things in my life have happened after talking to people in groups and sharing ideas with people, so yeah.
H: I love that you feel so compelled to bring people together like this. I think it’s so important for people who work independently to convene sometimes, but it can be hard to find community if you’re working alone, and it’s also hard to meet people who are outside of your own circle. I love that you bring people together who have things in common but are totally different. Everyone can learn from each other.
B: That’s what’s been interesting learning. From Katie (Kathryn Sieve of Winsome Goods) too, she said she didn’t even know she needed this. She was saying, I don’t have that many friends that are innovative thinkers, or people that want to make big changes, or really want to go home and focus on their business one night. She said it was really nice and refreshing to meet other people that have similar aspirations to do big things in life. I think maybe that’s part of it too now. It’s bringing people together for a new support group.
Another thing like you said, bringing people from different backgrounds. For some reason I knew that I wanted to do that even though everyone was telling me I should specialize so it’s easier to sell an event. But after doing this, and after reading all the scholarship applications, I swear 70% of them said they were really pumped it’s a different group of people and everyone can be from different places because they’re sick of going to design conferences where it’s the same people they meet every time.
H: With all the details you’re putting into the retreat, the workshops, talks, and opportunities to be outdoors or engaging in conversations, what do you hope people take away from the retreat experience?
B: I can’t wait for the people to meet each other and for the support systems that might come out of it. Friendships and support systems have been the coolest thing I’ve seen from the first retreat.
I hope to overall boost the feeling of what it means to be independent or creative, and make you feel like it’s okay, that maybe this thing should have taken you this long, or that’s happened to me before, it’s okay, this is what I did – sharing what it means to be a creative and leaving feeling full, and feeling that energy feeling that I left with, like I CAN DO THIS! I hope people leave feeling refreshed after being unplugged and being outside.
H: Last thoughts?
B: I’m really excited for this retreat series to keep going. It’s been so cool to see the effects on people. I really saw the value when I was there. I knew it would be fun, but it was nice to see the effects on people that have extended beyond the retreat into real friendships and creative collaboration.
Hailey Hirst is the Content Editor for She Explores and a multi-passionate creative who thrives on the often-overlooked details. She lives in Kelowna, British Columbia. Find her on Instagram.