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August 11, 2021

Retreat

Learning to step away to take a step forward

I recently returned from a trip completely offline—my first since May 2019 (not proud of that).

I traveled to northern Minnesota to canoe, portage, and camp with two friends and Ei colleagues, Zak & Will, in a part of the country called the Boundary Waters. If you’re unfamiliar with portaging, the word portage is derived from the French word “porter” which literally means “to carry.” It's the act of paddling from water to land, and then carrying your vessel overhead, along with all of your gear, to the next body of navigable water. It looks like this:



Our trip was pure adventure. There were no signs, no markers, no guides, and no tech. Once we were dropped off at our entry point, it was just the three of us, a folded map in a ziploc bag, and the food and supplies on our backs.

We've all camped before, but this was our first trip of this kind. And though we'd done our research, we were still swallowed by the complexities and quirks of the landscape. At one point, while traversing an especially rugged trail, I looked up only to find William's left leg entirely submerged in a pit of thick, black, mossy goop. It was like the scene in The Neverending Story, except Will managed to pull himself out. Another time, while trying to cautiously paddle through a small opening in a beaver dam, I lost my balance and flipped into the mucky waters with our gear. Luckily, the river was only chest deep and my bag kept our supplies dry.

For all of the quirks (I haven't even mentioned the swarm of nightly bugs), it was a special trip. We hardly saw another soul, we caught more fish in an evening than I've caught in my lifetime (not saying much), and we took the time to discuss some of life's deepest topics.

The Role of Retreats
I believe, wholeheartedly, that everyone has a place in this world. And that we should help one another thrive with the tools needed to solve problems and make a living. On this journey I was reminded, once again, that those pursuits should include opportunities for rest, wellbeing, and kindness.

Lately, our team has been invited to start designing offsite retreats for some of our workplace learning partners. The timing couldn't be more perfect. This fall, barring any shut-downs, we'll be designing experiences in Denver, Park City, and Philadelphia. There won’t be any portaging (maybe there should be?), but we will be combining learning, community, and play beyond everyone’s usual schedules and environments.

How About You?
What retreat do you need? For yourself, your community, or your teams? Where do you need to go and what do you need to experience?

Life is busy, but remember, a retreat is taking a step away so you can take a better step forward.

Happy Wednesday,
Victor & the Ei Team


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