Friday, September 7, 2018

Weekend on the Water Retreat FAQ

2018 Weekend On The Water: Find Your Art / Life Balance.

The 11th Annual SCBWI-WWA Weekend on the Water Writer’s and Illustrator’s retreat is happening on the first weekend in November, 2018. We’re so lucky that IslandWood Natural Learning Center on Bainbridge Island has opened their space to us ... It’s a fantastic facility, on something like 250 acres of forest, with amazing local, natural, cuisine that’s custom to each individual’s preferences.

For retreats, the place is in super high demand, but we are lucky enough to get the chance to experience their natural and creative environment because they share our mission of serving kids. Go kidlit!

This year’s Weekend on the Water theme is “Art / Life Balance.” So... just a question: how’s it working out for you, juggling your busy life with your creative muse? If you could use some inspiration—or just time away from the grind—this is the retreat for you.

Keynotes are by Newbery honoree Kirby Larson and illustrator Jennifer K. Mann. Illustrators get to dig into a weekend-long hands-on workshop and writers get to be inspired by one of our country's finest middle grade authors.

Spaces are still available for both writers and illustrators, so what’s keeping you from registering? Maybe you just need a little more info. That’s why we’re offering this Q&A.

Q: Can you give me an idea of the weekend agenda?
Some highlights: Author/Illustrator Jennifer K. Mann will keynote on Friday night, Author Kirby Larson will keynote on Saturday AM. The illustrators have a workshop that lasts from Sat PM through Sunday AM. You will be working on one big project. The writers have presentations / discussions with Kirby, Joni Sensel and, on Sunday, Beth Bacon. Saturday night we have an open mic campfire (it’s a covered shelter and blankets are provided for those who are worried about the weather). There are also nature walks, guided on Saturday, but also you’re free to hike at any time. There are two tree houses that you can go to, to work or chill out! The schedule is in a PDF here:

Q: I have very specific food requirements. Should I bring my own food?
About the food, don’t worry. IslandWood is extremely progressive and accommodating about food. They will have a ton of fruit and granola at breakfast. In fact there are virtually 2 breakfasts, because there’s an earlybird a la cart breakfast before the served breakfast. You can bring snacks, but really, they happily accommodate all dietary needs. And they get their food from local-source places and grow a lot of it themselves. That’s actually one of the best things about IslandWood. 

Q: Do I need to bring bedding or a sleeping bag?
No need for bedding, that’s all provided.

Q: I’m doing the artist workshop. Do I need to bring art supplies?
Please bring art supplies if you have special ways of working and specific media that you care to use. For example, if you’re a charcoal artist, bring your charcoals and the kind of paper you like to draw on. We will have some standard art supplies but nothing special or unique.

Q: Transportation: Can I carpool on the ferry?
The retreat is on Bainbridge Island. If you’re traveling from south of Tacoma or the Olympic peninsula, you can drive over the Agate Pass bridge without taking the ferry. If you’re coming from Seattle, SeaTac Airport, or points north and east of the city, you’ll probably want to take the ferry. There’s plenty of free parking at IslandWood, but taking a car on the ferry can be pricey. So you might want to carpool. In October, we’ll send out emails about creating carpools to those who have registered. Last year everyone was very generous and cooperative about carpooling — it helped forge friendships before the event even started. Stay tuned for emails on the transportation issue.

Q: I’m an illustrator. Should I bring my portfolio?
This is a retreat focused on creativity. It’s not the kind of weekend where we will be critiqued by editors or vie for an agent’s attention. We are all creatives working to develop our craft. If you want to share your work with peers, then by all means, bring your portfolio. It’s likely you’ll have a supportive audience. This weekend is designed to be inspirational not competitive.

Q: What’s all this about an add-on day Thursday night?
The main retreat weekend starts on Friday evening and goes through Sunday afternoon. For those who can get there on Thursday (and take the day off Friday) we are hosting a 24-hour “pure retreat” retreat... no programming, just time (sweet time) to work on projects or decompress in this invigorating setting. For those who opt for the add-on Thursday, meals will be provided Thursday night, Friday morning, and Friday at noon. (That’s what the extra expense is for.) If you’ve already registered for the regular weekend and want to add the extra day, please let us know BEFORE October 12 and you can join the Thursday add-on.

Q: I hear there are hiking trails. Should I bring hiking shoes?
There are tons of forest pathways if you like to hike. You could just wear regular walking shoes because the paths are well maintained. Many are even ADA approved. If you are an avid trail hound, hiking boots will keep you dry and supported, so bring them along.

Q: What’s this about tree houses?

IslandWood has two tree houses (and a duck shelter) in their forest which are available for us to use as places of inspiration.  One of the tree houses is ADA approved. (You have to see it to believe it!) On Saturday morning, an IslandWood docent will show us the way. After that, we’re free to use these amazing natural wonders at any time during the weekend.

Q: Can my spouse attend? / Can I choose my roommate?
Absolutely. Please register separately and send an email with your request to If you don’t send an email, we can’t know who to match you up with (even if you have the same last name), so please communicate with us.

If there’s anything more you need to know about Weekend On The Water 2018, please email and we’ll get an answer to you soon. Or, you can find all of the information on our SCBWI-WWA Retreats web pages.

See you in November!

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