Overview of Scholars' Retreat

Scholars' Retreat is designed to provide the opportunity for intensive, focused, non-distracting, supervised writing time so that you may make significant progress toward the completion of your dissertation, thesis, or writing project.

Academia is filled with talented persons who are ABD because they have not isolated the time or found the motivation necessary to finish their dissertations. Similarly, many individuals with a great deal of potential as scholars are not awarded tenure because of an insufficient number of publications. Many are unable to find the time for research and writing in their already overburdened schedules. If you are one of these individuals, you may benefit from participating in Scholars' Retreat.

You are a good candidate for Scholars' Retreat if you have data collected for your thesis, dissertation, book, or study and need time, space, more productive writing strategies, or motivation to complete your writing. Individuals at the beginning stages of a writing project also can benefit. The Retreat offers an excellent opportunity to conceptualize your project so that it is conceptually sound, of high quality, and doable.

During the Retreat, directors Dr. Sonja Foss and Dr. William Waters serve as on-call advisors, working individually with participants to solve whatever problems must be solved to facilitate maximum productivity, including assistance in:

  • developing individual writing plans
  • unblocking writing blocks
  • developing frameworks or research questions for projects
  • writing literature reviews efficiently
  • coding qualitative data efficiently
  • analyzing data to develop conceptual schemas
  • organizing ideas
  • developing strategies for efficient writing
  • energizing and motivating

Individuals who participate in the Retreat usually make dramatic progress. Previous participants' accomplishments during the Retreat have included the completion of dissertation proposals, several chapters of their dissertations, drafts of their entire dissertations, or two or three manuscripts ready for submission to journals.

Living Conditions


The Retreat is held in apartment suites on the campus of Colorado Christian University at 180 S. Garrison Street (at Garrison and Alameda Streets) in Lakewood, Colorado.  The Retreat rents four suites in the complex, with three rooms to each suite.  Each suite contains a kitchen (with a refrigerator and microwave), living room, dining room, two bathrooms, and a washing machine and dryer.  You will have your own room but may share a bathroom with one other person (some participants have their own bathrooms).  The apartments are air conditioned.  If you want to use the stove or microwave, bring your own cooking utensils; none will be provided.


All meals are provided at the Retreat, and the cost is included in the fee.  Breakfast is served in the “home” suite--the one in which Sonja and William stay.  Breakfast consists of yogurt, cereal, granola, English muffins, bagels, and fruit.  Other meals are eaten together in nearby restaurants such as Noodles & Co., Chipotle, Einstein Bagels, Baja Fresh, and Atlantic Bread Company. Feel free to bring snacks with you to munch on during the writing times; you will be able to store items in the refrigerator in your suite.  A trip to the grocery store will be arranged on the first or second day of the Retreat so that those from out of town can get food or other items if they wish.  There are vending machines near the Retreat suite, where you can purchase snacks, cokes, and iced tea.


A limited number of telephones are available (usually one per suite), and long-distance calls may be made with calling cards.  If you have a cell phone, you might want to bring it for ease in making long-distance phone calls.  An ATM machine and post office are available on campus.  Do not have people send things to you at the Retreat through the campus post office, however.  The post office staff will no mechanism for locating participants who are on campus for only a week or two.

Internet Access

Access to the Internet is available in each bedroom. There are jacks for ethernet cables but no wireless access. To access the internet you will need an ethernet card in your computer and an ethernet cable. Since dialing out is difficult, dial-up connections do not routinely work.


Smoking is not allowed on the campus.  If you are a smoker, you can walk half a block to get off campus, where you may smoke.  You also will be able to smoke before or after lunch and dinner, which are held off campus.


Daytime highs in June in Denver are usually in the 80s, and humidity is very low.  Temperatures cool to the 50s at night.  There could be a cool period during that time, though, and thundershowers are also a possibility.


Plan to arrive at the Retreat no later than 4:00 on the first day. At 5:30 on that day, participants will meet for dinner and an orientation session off campus.  Sonja and William would like to hold individual meetings with as many of the participants as possible on the first day to work out writing plans for the Retreat.  This meeting will allow you to be productive right away on the first full day of the Retreat. The schedule for the Retreat is:

            6:15     wake up
            6:30     exercise (walking or running)
            7:45     breakfast
            8:30     writing
          12:30     lunch
            1:30     writing
            2:30     optional walk
            5:30     dinner
            7:00     writing
            9:00     social hour
          10:00     to bed

To enable participants to accomplish their writing goals, the schedule is rigorously enforced.  During the writing times, participants meet individually for one-hour sessions with Sonja and William to solve whatever problems must be solved to facilitate your progress.  If several participants could benefit from learning a certain method or procedure, Sonja and William hold mini-workshops to demonstrate it. The Retreat ends with a celebratory dinner on the evening before the day of departure.  You are free to leave as early as you would like on the final day of the Retreat.

What to Bring

  • Computer
  • Printer, if possible (a printer will be available, but you will be more productive if you have your own)
  • Coffee pot, heating coil, or electric tea kettle if you want to make coffee or tea in your room (you will have a microwave in your suite, and we will keep coffee going in our suite, which you are welcome to drink)
  • Coffee or tea
  • Snacks to eat during writing
  • Casual clothing for writing (be prepared for warm and cool temperatures, and if your roommates like the apartment cool, you might want something warm to put on while you are writing)
  • Exercise clothing (for walking or running)
  • A dressy-casual outfit to wear for our opening and closing dinners (this doesn’t have to be fancy, but you might want something nicer than sweats or jeans, for example)
  • Slippers or something for your feet during writing
  • Lotion and lip moisturizer (Denver is very dry, and people who don’t bring these wish they had)
  • Cell phone or telephone calling card
  • Coins for vending machines if you will want to purchase drinks and snacks
  • Alarm clock
  • Reading light if you like to read elsewhere than at your desk
  • Tape recorder and tapes (participants sometimes find that recording our conversations together is useful)
  • Tape and scissors (a method we commonly use is to have you cut up your data for coding)
  • Extra copy of your data in case we decide to cut them up for coding (by data, we mean articles, transcripts, notes you’ve taken on books or articles, or whatever the physical things are with which you’re working)
  • Camera (some participants want to remember the week with pictures)
  • Radio or CD player if you like to listen to music while you work
  • Books and articles necessary for your writing project
  • Style sheet you will be using for your project--MLA, APA, etc.
  • Your university’s guidelines for writing dissertations (if you are working on your dissertation)
  • Phone number of your advisor if she or he will be available for telephone consultation during the Retreat (if you are working on your dissertation)

What you don’t need to bring

You do not need to bring computer paper, towels, sheets, pillows, blankets, kleenix, paper clips, envelopes, hangers, a coffee mug, laundry detergent, or basic cleaning supplies; these will be provided.

Shipping materials

If you have a lot of materials to bring with you to the Retreat, feel free to ship or mail a box or boxes to Sonja prior to the Retreat.  They should be sent to:  1788 Glencoe Street, Denver, CO 80220-1343.  



A list of the names and e-mail addresses of individuals who have participated in the Retreat in the past and who would like to provide you with more information is available. If you would like to contact some of these previous participants, request the list from Dr. Foss.


For More Information

For more information or to receive a brochure about the next Scholars' Retreat, please contact:

Sonja K. Foss
1788 Glencoe Street
Denver, CO 80220-1343