At this time last week, I put up my “gone bachelorette-ing” holder post. On Friday morning, I hopped a plane for Minneapolis, where I convened with a bunch of cool ladies (some I knew, and some I didn’t), drove up to Two Harbors, and spent the weekend having shenanigans in a cabin on Lake Superior. And you know what? It was damn good for the soul.
Step One: Invite interesting, intelligent, inventive people.
Any gathering is only as good as its guests, and especially when it’s a full weekend, it’s rare to find that perfect alchemy of people to create an ideal group experience. Personally, hanging out with only awesome women for a weekend was super great and inspiring to me, so consider that when you’re deciding who to invite. We also had people who were smart and passionate and willing to talk about serious things, but also loved to laugh. If you can’t talk about identity politics and also a girl pooping herself on a train in the same conversation, you may need to adjust your group. Luckily, it was pretty easy to set up this group since this lady:
…hand-picked each of us to be part of her bridal squad. It’s always fascinating to me when different friend groups collide. Sometimes it’s weird, but sometimes it makes perfect sense.
Step Two: choose a getaway.
I can’t take any credit for selecting our cabin, but it was pretty much perfect. The perfect place for you is going to depend a lot on what your group is like and what your hopes for the weekend are. For us, a rustically styled cabin packed with modern luxuries was definitely the sweet spot. You got the feeling of being out in the woods, away from it all, in your own private wilderness…but a wilderness that also had a hot tub, a great kitchen for preparing group meals in, and gas fireplaces that made getting cozy a snap. Also I have to recommend choosing a venue with a lot of taxidermy. It adds a distinct background hilarity to the whole weekend.
Step Three: Plan just enough, but not too much.
This is always a tricky prospect for me as a host. You always want to have enough structured activities to keep people interested without making people feel like you’re a neurotic cruise director shuffling them from one activity to the next. My best advice is to have a variety of flexible activities prepped that don’t need to happen. That way you always have something in your Mary Poppins bag if people start getting bored, but you won’t feel like you’ve wasted a lot of time and energy if everyone is having a good time and you don’t end up making custom friendship bracelets.
Our weekend definitely leaned to the side of no-plans. We went on an adventure to nearby Gooseberry Falls:
and I climbed on rocks (and fell in the lake)…
We grilled out an impressive feast:
And played many a game. I’m sure very few of you are surprised that it was the moments that weren’t planned (truth or truth in the hot tub, running screaming into Lake Superior at 1AM) were the ones that really caught in my heart.
Step four: Make it easy to settle up
Too many group trips end on the sour note of TRICKY MATH. Who paid for what? Who owes who??? Luckily, we live in the modern age. Our group used Splitwise to keep track of all expenses, which takes a ton of the effort off of an individual person to make things balance out in the end without anyone feeling like they were taken advantage of. Highly recommended!
Step Five: Never forget.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely was feeling in need of a pick-me-up this year. I’ve been lucky enough to make a lot of great friends in my life, everywhere I’ve been, but it hasn’t been since college that I had this kind of extended, open, no-holds-barred time with a group of rad women. And let me tell you, it was real good for the soul. It’s important to take time for yourself to get away, whether that’s a solo escape or a group vacation from the banalities of real life. Going on this trip made me want to do it more. I would love to take a retreat every year to spend quality time having adventures and making food and scream-singing “Just Around the Riverbend” into the night with awesome ladies again.