Follow by E-mail

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dads 'n cows

I miss the cows.

Not these cows, exactly, but cows like them. See, The Husband and I recently spent an idyllic weekend at the WinShape Retreat Centre in Mount Berry, Ga.

WinShape is the foundation started by S. Truett Cathy (the Chick-Fil-A guy) to "make a difference in the world." They do that through various programs aimed at children, married couples and families, all "set in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by a rolling wonderland of forests, meadows and streams that provide the perfect backdrop to encourage both growth and transformation."


We were at WinShape as guests of All Pro Dad (APD), an organization that helps fathers connect with their kids, becoming better fathers in the process. The Husband has been "team captain" of the APD chapter at our elementary school for a couple years now; APD brought in captains from across the country to meet each other, share ideas and see how we might grow the organization.

In explanation, it sounds a little esoteric, but it was one of the most fun weekends we've had in a long time. It was almost like the APD folks searched their database, decided who would be BFFs and then summoned us all to the Georgia mountains for a few days. Many of us remarked that we didn't seem like strangers at all, but old friends. Shared values will do that.

Part of the wonder of the WinShape Retreat amenities -- This place is the Disneyworld of non-Disney resorts! -- are its facilities. Because the group of buildings once served as the dairy for Berry College (a gorgeous little liberal arts school set on 26,000 acres of nature preserve), visitors sleep, eat and meet in former animal stalls, milking barns and related spaces. They've skillfully decorated the buildings and rooms to retain the charm of the farm; if you could manage to forget the facilities' former use, large photos of Guernsey cows and antique farm implements grace most walls.

And the food! Nightly, we were treated to cookies and milk, icecream floats by the fire pit, specialty coffee drinks, bananas foster and many other delicacies. . . after we'd been offered dessert with dinner. We dined -- very well -- at the only place on earth where you can get Chick-Fil-A on a Sunday. They performed amazingly delicious magic with green beans and even cauliflower.

Admittedly, the goal we were given was lofty: To help make a difference in families by involving and empowering fathers in their children's lives. But in that setting, with that band of visionaries, we caught a glimpse of what we could achieve together.