Retreat Information Winter Session
This page contains all you need to know regarding your time at the 2023 Winter NWSSR! The important stuff is also being sent to you in emails. For more helpful information on the retreat center, please visit their guest information page and par-use their website. Please let us know if you have any questions!
Menucha is located on the south side of the Columbia River Gorge, in Corbett, Oregon, inside the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Menucha is just a 30-40 minute ride from downtown Portland, PDX airport, and Portland’s AMTRAK train terminal. Freeways I-84 and I-205 provide easy access by car from all directions. Driving instructions can be found here. The entrance is located at 38711 E Historic Columbia River Highway.
Arrival and Departure Info
Gates open at 4pm on Thursday, February 16th. We ask that you arrive between 4-7pm. PLEASE DO NOT ARRIVE EARLY FOR ANY REASON!
Dinner will be served on opening night from 6-7pm. Make sure you get there in time for dinner! This opening dinner is a great way to settle in and connect with others.
You must arrive on time on Thursday. We are setting a very intentional container and It’s paramount that everyone be present for the beginning. We will be going over some important information and activities to set the stage for your whole experience. Please do yourself a favor: If you haven’t already, do what’s needed to get the time off so you can arrive on time.
For anyone who does end up late on Thursday – please let us know as far in advance as you can so we can approve it and know when to expect you.
At the end of the entrance road, you’ll see a welcome sign. near the office. You will be greeted by a greeter there and directed to registration and parking. Click here for a map of the Menucha property and buildings.
The retreat will end at 3:30pm on Sunday, February 19th. We ask that everyone be off the land by 5pm. Breakfast and Lunch will be served on Sunday.
Carpool — it’s cool!
Help get more cars off the road and help others looking for a ride! If you can offer a ride, it will really help people out and reduce emissions! We have lots of people looking! It’s also a GREAT way to make a new friend before the event! To offer a ride or ask for a ride please visit our fancy google sheet CARPOOL PAGE.
You will be staying in comfy, cozy, and clean semi-private and private rooms with full bedding. You may select a bunk room (up to 12 people), triple, double, or single. Rooms will be split between 2-3 building locations, depending on your preferences when you register. As stated on the registration form, you may indicate a preference for roommates and quiet/louder rooms.
All rooms are in buildings which provide 24 hour tea and coffee service! And all rooms are connected to a shared or private bathroom.
Menucha prides itself on their accommodations — which is one of the main reasons we chose this place! We are staying in the Wright, Ballard and Creevy complex. For a detailed look at their buildings and facilities, please go HERE.
NWSSR runs smooth on volunteer power. For those of you that have offered to volunteer, thank you for helping to create an amazing Annual NW Songwriter Soiree Retreat! We have a small list of specific volunteer jobs that can use your helping hands this weekend.
If you want to help out and help make the magic happen, please go to our VOLUNTEER SIGN UP PAGE and add your name in the yellow boxes. Our volunteer coordinator, Carolyn will be in touch with you!
As a community we can all help the weekend run smooth by doing our part. Help us keep the space clean and nice by chipping in when you see something needed. Empower yourself and don’t wait to be asked. Keep tables clean, floors swept, decorate things. Your mother isn’t coming (unless you bring her – and even if you do, she’d rather be making music!) so we will need to clean up after ourselves.
Fully catered meals will be served 3X a day, plus snacks. This includes all food. As per Menucha’s ethos, meals will be served family style, so as to provide more opportunity for connection.
Does Menucha provide meals for people with special diets such as vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free, etc.?
Menucha’s kitchen staff works very hard to provide proper meals for our guests with alternate diets. You may find out more information about meals and alternate diets by reading the information found here. Once you have registered to attend a retreat, please submit this online form! We ask for it at least three weeks in advance because early planning enables us to coordinate meals, order proper food and schedule staff. There is a $3 fee per day for this service noted at the top of the form.
Schedule and Workshops
We have created an experience that balances focused time for learning and connecting with time for relaxing, writing and reflection. While full participation is encouraged, everything is optional and we encourage you to do what you need to have the best time possible!
Each day will begin with free time early in the morning, followed by Yoga/movement and ecstatic dance on Sunday morning. We believe a healthy mind comes from a healthy body, and warming up your body can really open up the creative channels. If yoga class is not your thing, there will be other ways to wake up your body such as hiking around the beautiful grounds and woods or stretching on your own.
Friday and Saturday will consist of 2 workshop blocks that are 2 hours each. You will have the option to choose from 5-6 different workshops offered in each block. Many of them will repeat if you can’t decide!
We will also offer times each day for the whole group to gather and connect in various ways, as well as chunks of free time for you to do your own thing! And of course we will have 3 catered meals provided for us each day!
To view the daily schedule and a comprehensive list of workshops, please CLICK HERE! (Please note it will be updated in early January). Workshops are subject to change. They will be announced and posted at the retreat as well.
Soiree Music Sharing Guidelines
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, we will be coming together for the “soiree” portion of the camp. This is our open mic style music sharing time. Each person will get to perform at least one song of original music.
The purpose of this night is to offer a safe, supportive and inspiring place for people to share in a listening environment that is really paying attention. This is THE BEST audience you’ll ever get! Emphasis is on creating a space where anything can happen, free from judgement or perfectionism. When those walls come down, the muse comes in!
A few guidelines:
• The sharing is largely acoustic. However we will have a full sound system with guitar, bass and keyboard amps. If you want to use further amplified or electronic elements that please contact us first to talk about it!
• We will have a house guitar, piano, keyboard, and amp available for you to use
• Please limit your song to under 5 minutes
• We will be having a sign up sheet for each night, available on Thursday evening. We’ll explain more on the soiree portion at opening circle.
Please note, you will also be able to share your songs more informally around our all-night jams! (likely at our indoor fireplace due to weather).
After Hours Campfire and Jams
If weather permits, we will have an outdoor campfire. If it’s too cold or rainy, we will have our jam inside!
What better way to end each day than singing songs around a campfire?! The fire (or fireplace) will burn from 9pm until we’re done. This is a more open, looser space where anyone can jam and offer songs. Anything goes! The fire will be lightly facilitated to help make the experience top notch for everyone. Sometimes the best magic happens in the wee hours – just make sure you get enough sleep!
Connect on the Event Facebook Group
What to Bring and Not to Bring!
WHAT TO BRING
A list of suggested items can be found on Menucha’s website HERE. Below are key things we recommend. Please note that all bedding and towels are provided.
- Instruments – ( as well as songbooks, music, recorders, tuner, batteries, strings, picks…) We provide a house guitar, piano and amps
- Earplugs if you’re a light sleeper
- Hot water bottle if you’re a cold sleeper
- Clothing for cold, rainy, weather (It’s Oregon, you never know)
- Notebook and pens for writing and workshops
- Yoga Mat for morning yoga
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Dress up clothes if you want to get fancy!
WHAT NOT TO BRING
- Synths, drum kits, bagpipes etc unless you check w/ us first. Feel free to check! (Keyboards are very welcome! They turn down better than the acoustic models. We will have 1-2 keyboards available.
- Cold and flu symptoms
Photos and Video
Please ask before shooting any video of anyone who might be in it. Also get explicit consent to post any video online before doing so. If anything is found posted w/ out permission it will be asked to be removed.
Our camp is a true “retreat” — a haven where the competitive rules of the daily world are suspended, and we’re free to try our musical wings with no need to be self-conscious or worry about impressing an audience. The retreat isn’t a completely “safe” place. It’s a “safe enough” place for people to take some pretty big risks – showing their love for music with hearts wide open. We do invite people to take those risks. And we want to keep camp “safe enough” that people take us up on that invitation. Videotaping can inhibit this possibility.
Photos are ok. Please get consent before taking.
Cel Phone Use
We invite you to fully participate this weekend. Please put your phone and any other devices on Airport Mode as soon as you arrive, and keep it there any time you’re not actively using it! If you really can’t turn it off for the weekend, please set your phone to silent. We dare you to leave your phone in your car or cabin. Our lives are speeding up to ever more urgent, frantic levels. The uninterrupted time we have together becomes more and more of a contrast and ever more precious. Cell phones have become a huge disruption to both our sense of rest and relaxation, and to our connections with one another. Please, if you do have to use your cell phone, leave buildings and any people you may be with, while you talk on the phone. Thanks!
No alcohol consumption is permitted during our event. Thank you.
Smoking is allowed ONLY at a designated smoking area, which will be determined and announced on opening night.
Keep Camp Healthy and Covid Protocols
This year, more than ever we are asking for your cooperation in keeping our camp healthy!
Are you sick, or starting to get sick? Please don’t bring your germs to camp. Pretend we’re a tiny cruise ship on a musical voyage. If you wake up with symptoms the morning of camp, please do not come to camp. We will make arrangements with you regarding your registration.
CURRENT COVID PROTOCOLS: UPDATED 1/25/23
We recognize that at this point Covid (or the flu) is a known factor in attending any event and some people may not be concerned by it or think it’s needed. That said, we want to create a space where everyone attending feels safer if possible.
We also understand that testing for COVID is an inconvenience and adds extra energy in order to come to camp (trust us, we know!). And at our last Summer event we had 4 people test positive (following with symptoms) before entry so it feels important to keep this ask in place at this time.
COVID REGISTRATION GUIDELINES UPDATED 1/25/23:
Please note we have modified our requirements for Covid testing. At this point, our protocol is that everyone attending will be required to do one of the following: A) Take one home antigen test within 24 hours of coming and another one the day of the event. You will be asked to show your results at registration for both tests. Or B) a negative PCR test within 24 hours of the retreat. We will continue to update as things evolve. Thank you for your patience and understanding!
We understand that PCR tests are harder to find and more money currently, so we changed to make it more accessible for people. Thank you for your understanding.
If for some reason you are unable to fulfill this easily, please talk to us. We will likely offer an exception for just one take-home antigen test to be taken at the event registration on a case-by case basis. You will need to bring the test (and we will have a few extra on hand).
You can order your FREE 4 covid tests from USPS HERE. Do this so you have enough time!
Check the NW Songwriter Soiree Facebook Group for updates and suggestions as well!
Q: I had covid within the last 4-12 weeks, and I have a positive result on a PCR test due to antigens in my body, even though I’m no longer contagious. Can I still come to camp?
A: Yes. If you test positive prior to the event, have no symptoms, and had a COVID infection confirmed by a home antigen or PCR test within the past 90 days (with the onset of symptoms anytime on or after November 16th 2022), you will be asked to take a rapid antigen test to confirm that you are not contagious. We will ask you to provide proof of the prior positive test. We will also be taking your temperature upon arrival to confirm that you have no symptoms.
Unfortunately, if you do have a fever, we will have to ask you to leave. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about this policy.
If you start to experience even mild symptoms, please put on your KN95 mask immediately and take a rapid antigen test. If you did not bring one with you, please find a staff member to help you take a test kit. If you test positive, you will be asked to pack up and depart immediately. If you do not feel well enough to do so or need support in navigating your departure, please let us know.
Anyone not able to attend or having to leave camp due to covid will be offered credit towards future events on a case by case basis.
Pre-Camp Precautions: Please help us reduce the risk of all germs at camp by exercising particular caution in your exposures to potentially contagious people prior to camp!
MASKING AND DISTANCING
We will allow all participants personal choice about masking and social distancing. You are free to mask or distance, but please be aware that most participants will likely not be masking or social distancing. If you are uncomfortable with this, we understand, and we ask that you stay home and we will discuss your registration arrangements.
WASH YOUR HANDS–OFTEN—especially right before meals. OK? Now let’s go play music….!
Safer Space Policy
The organizers of the NW Songwriter Soiree Retreat recognizes that oppression is real and that some of us (Especially white people) reap unequal benefits from a legacy of privilege.
We believe that anytime people gather and hold space, it is a powerful opportunity to acknowledge and shift the ways oppressive systems harm and disconnect us from ourselves, from each other, and from the earth. We see it as a necessity in order for growth and transformation to take place.
We recognize that there are people in bodies which are marginalized. We aspire to co-create a space that is as safe as possible for all people, with the understanding that a fully safe space is impossible in our world. People of all races, sizes, ages, cultural backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, trauma backgrounds, and religions are welcome. Intentional words and actions that promote racism, misogyny, hatred, bigotry, supremacy, sizeism, transphobia, ageism, or divisiveness will not be tolerated and will constitute expulsion from the retreat.