Highlights - a great (re)treat

I promised a little run down on my recent visit to Highlight's Foundation in Boyd's Mill, PA. It puts the TREAT in RETREAT. Here's one reason ...

 and here's another ...

Just in case we were feeling faint they fed us 3-4 times a day. And in between we were welcome to raid the pantry ... yee gads! Thankfully, all the top-notch food is locally sourced, cooked with care and healthfully. Which is good, because you wouldn't want to miss any of it! Especially 'Angel Poop' .. my fav dessert.

But there's more to Highlights than just good grub. If you've no idea what I'm talking about, here's a link to their website. They run fabby writing and illustrating workshops for the kidlit world at a wonderful facility in Pennsylvania. Highlights is allied to Boyd's Mill Publishers in Honesdale and the first day includes a tour if you get there a little early. Which I did. A day early because of flights (which they don't charge you for). I was collected from Scranton airport by a very nice chap called Bob. All the staff are very welcoming and helpful. It's a bit like being at a private country club for children's writers and artists, but with no boring golf or rubbish conversation at the bar.)

at Boyd's Mill ... some place to have your office ...

The Barn, where all workshops and meals take place. It's a beautiful building and very welcoming, with informal rooms to lounge around in and a big space for work and eating. Some nights we ate on the patio.

Attendees get to stay in cute little private cabins ... but I got to stay in the farmhouse, which I loved! 

The workshop I attended (Advanced Children's Illustrators) had a great faculty - Eric Rohmann - Ruth Sanderson - Kelly Murphy - Floyd Cooper ... plus guests including Neal Porter (Roaring Brook Press), David Wiesner, Donna-Jo Napoli. During the week, staff and editors from Boyd's Mill popped in and shared mealtimes with us, which was very nice and friendly.

Days start early with coffee at 7.30am, followed by breakfast (and 2nd breakfast if you want it!) then workshops at 9am until .... you want to stop in the evening. It was great to have several days to experiment, the wonderful atmosphere and secluded surroundings of the foundation make it a pleasure. After a day your fellow attendees feel like family. The everyday world is a memory.

I wanted for nothing while I was there. Wifi is available most everywhere (phone service is a little squiffy, but there are house phones you can use a calling card on, or get folks to call you back). If there is anything you need - then you just have to ask. Did I say I worshiped the kitchen staff ...?

There is nothing, however, to top sitting down with seasoned professionals and listen to their experiences, chat around the dinner table or next to the outdoor fireplace and hear about experiences on a personal level. With only 24 or so attendees it was great to really get to know each other in intimate surroundings.

If you are looking for a different experience from the usual hurly-burly of the conference circuit, I suggest you give Highlights a try. The cost of the workshops are truly reasonable given the level of attention and accommodation. They also offer scholarships to those who qualify.

I leave you with some photos as they speak more eloquently than I ...

 Neal Porter

 Eric Rohmann

Eric was my mentor for the workshop! Lucky me!


 Kelly Murphy

 Faculty Panel

 Portfolio Showcase