Friday, 24 February 2012


Imagine staying on an isolated island off the west coast of America for five days. Imagine some authority figure ordering you not to use any sort of cologne, makeup, or similar cosmetic product. Imagine not being allowed to smoke, drink, or eat your fill of whatever you liked. Imagine not being permitted to talk to the other camp inmates except during supervised meetings. Imagine having to jog a mile along a gravel road first thing each morning before eating a meagre breakfast of oatmeal. Imagine having no coffee to drink either.

It certainly sounds like some sort of mind control cult or religious commune. In actual fact, it was a self-improvement retreat that my Amway sponsor and I went on in February of 1984. Having previously attended the week-long introductory seminar, we felt eager to learn more about human psychology and how it would improve our businesses.

The Pursuit of Excellence organization, sponsor of the seminars, rented a campground on Orcas Island in the state of Washington during February of 1984. Our isolation from the haste and pressure of society was meant to help us focus on the lessons.

As I wrote in my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir, both of us had qualms about this strange place once we arrived there. My Christian convictions immediately posed a problem. How could I pray aloud without breaking the "no talking" ground rule? I decided to petition the Lord during the periods when we were sent into the forest to meditate. I whispered my prayers, all the while glancing around for any spies who would report me to the facilitator of the retreat.

After working on their lessons, performing their relaxation exercises, and obeying their restrictions that week, all twenty-plus of us participants cheered the arrival of the school bus that would soon take us back to the ferry. Though Orcas Island was lovely and I enjoyed the solitude, returning home to my routine felt wonderful.

I've expressed my love of solitude in my previous memoirs, both of which are displayed on the left hand side of this page. Details about them are available by clicking my books link. You're also welcome to contact me directly for more information.


  1. I remember reading how one of the Amway members was drinking alcohol and he was thrown out of the retreat. Do I remember that correctly?
    This camp sounds more like a punishment camp than one to help you out.

  2. Was this a retreat or a prison? It reminds me somewhat of a spritual retreat I once attended where I was asked to demonstrate the music therapy activities I conducted at the nursing home. It was held at a guest ranch in the mountains west of Sheridan, Wyoming. The only communication to the outside world was a radio phone that could be used in case of emergency. At least we could talk amoungst ourselves outside of scheduled activities. Although we enjoyed massages, horseback riding, and a trip to Shell Falls and to an ice cream shop, I was glad to get home after a week.


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