What happens during the weekend retreats?
Registration opens around 4 pm. A light meal is available starting at 6 pm. At 8 pm we gather for the Opening Circle. Here each man has a chance to introduce himself to the group. Workshop leaders make pitches for their offerings. General announcements are made.
An hour or so after the Circle, the Program Committee opens sign-ups for the preliminary batch of Saturday workshops. Some of the workshops with limited enrollment fill up quickly. Then some guys stay up late, taking the opportunity to talk the night away. Others hit the hay early, knowing that Saturday will be jam-packed with activities.
Saturday Morning and Afternoon
During Saturday morning breakfast, attendees have clearer heads to study the detailed workshop descriptions and consider how they feel like spending their day. Veterans are around to direct newbies to the buildings or outdoor locations where the various workshops are scheduled.
During Saturday there are three optional work/playshop sessions with three or more workshops to choose from during each time period. Ten-minute warnings alert MMGers about the start of each workshop slots. Saturday afternoon there’s plenty of free time to nap, go exploring the woods, rehearse for the talent show, or whatever. We also have a town meeting to discuss MMG matters, take a group photo (location depends on the weather).
While all other meals are arranged buffet-style, on Saturday evening, we present a more formal dinner with fancier table settings and volunteer waiters serving a more elaborate meal. The served dinner like all meals features a choice of vegan and “carnivore” entrees. Try to be on time for the start of this special presentation.
Shortly after dinner we treat ourselves to an evening of open-mic entertainment held in the Staff Lounge. Each performer (or group of performers) has five minutes for his/their musical, comedy, theatrical or genre-defying routine. (Specialty acts in the past have included such diverse spectacles as fire-eating and authentic traditional male belly-dancing.)
Following the talent show there is drumming in one location and dancing and movement to recorded music in the talent show area. Attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite mix tapes. Participants are encouraged to pack instruments (including electronic pianos) for the talent show and impromptu jam sessions.
Sunday Morning and Early Afternoon
There’s another round of workshops (sometimes including a nondenominational spiritual service)In the Closing Circle, attendees, after once again given their name and home town, now have two minutes to give organizers feedback and to join committees to run the next MMG. It’s also an opportunity for men to express their emotions about the weekend as well as any thanks to individuals who have helped them.
Following lunch, some of the leftover food is offered to men who have brought take-home containers or to those who can transport it to a shelter or feeding program. Camp clean-up involves tidying up one’s sleeping space – and for those with time and energy left – vacuuming rugs and restoring furniture to the positions we found them in. It is an MMG point of honor that we leave the camp in better condition than we found it in – that’s one reason MMG is so trusted and welcomed back by camp administrators.