This was my wilderness “office” for a week.
Now that our three kids are more or less independent (our youngest almost has his driver’s license), I wanted to try a solo wilderness retreat this summer.
Since we’ve been blessed with a lease site at a small private campground on the Gunflint Trail (far northern Minnesota) for several summers, it made the most sense for me to take advantage of that. We keep our popup camper there each summer. It could hardly be easier.
Other than not being able to get online in Grand Marais one day to do a couple things I needed to, it was a great success. Here’s why:
I picked a location I know well
I knew the campground would be quiet. I didn’t ever have to worry about getting lost. I knew where to go when I needed a break from work. I had my walking routes planned out.
I even knew where to find the ripe raspberries! Not that a new location wouldn’t have worked — but I don’t think I would’ve been as productive.
I picked a great time to be there
Late July/August is our favorite time of the summer to be on the Gunflint Trail. Cooler nights, fewer bugs (in fact hardly any mosquitoes that week!), less rain, lots of sunshine.
I was able to spend much of my work time sitting outside my camper enjoying the breeze, the sounds and the view — the lake behind me and the forest around me.
I came with a game plan
I knew I wouldn’t have internet or cell access while in the campground. So I used that time for distraction-free reading and writing.
I planned three trips to the public library in town (a half-hour drive — one of the most beautiful commutes in the country) to get on their free wi-fi, with a list of what I needed to accomplish while there.
When I needed a break from work, I took it
I went for a walk or a kayak paddle. One afternoon I took a little drive for some local shopping and an ice cream treat.
I can tell when I’m not being productive anymore, and know better than to try to plow through it. That’s how I work best.
I kept my meals ultra-simple
That meant little time spent prepping or cleaning. That’s my preferred camping style anyway.
I went to bed earlyish most nights
…and didn’t have to set an alarm. It starts to get light at 5:00 that far north this time of year, and I was usually up with the sun around 6:00.
I took advantage of an unplanned blessing
My sister and her family happened to stay in a cabin 20 miles away the same week. So we planned one afternoon together in town, and another up by their cabin. That helped break my week up so I wasn’t working ALL the time.
(A walk along Lake Superior after working in town at the library — this kind of beauty helps me think better!)
When working from home it can be difficult to ignore the distractions and tame the schedule. That’s especially true when I’ve got more than one or two income streams, ministry with my church, and five people in the house.
I had just finished an online marketing course and knew I needed the focused time to start getting a plan in place for the next few months. It was a good move on my part — and a great excuse to spend some quality time in a place I love.
I hope to make this a summer tradition!
Have you taken a personal work retreat like this? What works for you?