We can do our best to provide the space, environment, teachers and surprises to ensure that you have the experience that you most want-- but there is no guarantee. It's a mystery on the highest order. Yet, clearly something good is happening for many (though we are probably not the ones who should be telling you what it is like or helping you to set your expectations as attending squam is an experience unique to those who make the journey). So, it's really best if you hear it straight from people who have come before. Below is an ever-growing compilation of responses to the Squam experience. (Click on their NAME to go to the full write-up).
"I don't know how to be brief about such an amazing adventure. Where to start? What to share? How to truly explain the experience? ... There was canoeing, learning, drawing, great food, quiet moments on the dock, and most of all - this amazing sense of belonging. I was surrounded by strangers, but they felt like home."
"like many adults and scientists, both my age and my education have robbed me of any magical thinking, and as much as i love to write nonfiction, and to read fiction, writing fiction is a wholly uncomfortable, unnatural experience for me. i figured squam was as good a place as any to step outside my comfort zone."
"Sometimes experiences are too rich, too full to write about. Squam is always like that for me. But I think the rawness that I feel as I drive away catches it all. The words that are spilling out as I leave and force me to stop for a moment so I can catch each and every one of them. I scribble quickly..."
"It was so good it was almost surreal, like a sweet dream gently nudged into wakefulness by the rooster's crow. The dream was fluid, the conversations were lucid and uninterrupted by the needs of the small people, unencumbered by The List that always barks at me from the sidelines like an over-zealous basketball coach."
"I have always been a grounded person, not easily swept up into the feeling of a place, especially if it's a 'zen' feeling. I wondered whether that quality would stand in the way of fully experiencing a retreat like this. Would everyone else 'get it', and I'd be left out? Would it be magical to others, but simply a change of scenery and some fun classes to me? Well, I am here to say that there was something magical happening there. There was a kindredness I felt very much a part of. It was simple and special and just what I needed."
"It was a beautiful whirlwind of an experience, soaking up beautiful New Hampshire in September with some of my favorite people. Swimming in the rain, crafting by the fire, meeting so many amazing and kind people."
"Much like last year, I feel like it's impossible to wrap up the experience of Squam in one post. This is because there are two amazing overarching themes to Squam: the setting, and the classes. Squam Lake is beautiful, magical, and completely removed from "regular life." It's amazingly restorative to be in the woods yet surrounded by water, living with strangers who quickly become dear friends. That alone is transformative."
"and how wonderful it was to go to SAW and be surrounded by such beauty & creativity. sometimes, i wished the magic few days would never end though in my heart i know that if i could have this all the time, some of the sparkle would wear off. i also know that i carry that magic around inside of me and can connect into it whenever i need."
"Squam is one big hug-fest. But the sense of being welcomed, held, and received extends beyond the act of a physical hug. The experiences and the encounters with old and new friends, teachers and classes is a repeated series of homecomings."
it was a time to set intentions and go deep, but also to laugh and cry and make art and make friendships - with cabinmates, new best friends, and with yourself...to push yourself beyond...to expand and settle in quietly, as your spirit asked of you...for me, it was the best of everything
"I made a vow to myself before I left that I would enjoy every moment and not get caught up in my usual anxieties about meeting new people. But by the time I arrived, registered, and unpacked in my cabin, at least ten women had already made me feel like I belonged there all along. I can’t think of another time in my life when I’ve ever felt so at home with strangers."
"It is so hard to accurately capture what Squam means - its a feeling, a look, something almost intangible."
"I’d been seeing photos and hearing about Squam for the past few years, and longing to attend, and I can tell you the place is even more beautiful than the pictures."
"The recaps I've read throughout the years were so effusive, with phrases like "magical experience" and "nurtured my spirit" and such, that it did cross my mind a few times: exactly how freakin' "magical" could this thing really be?"
"It has been over a week since I returned home from my second annual trip to Squam Art Workshops. I've waited to blather on about it because the task of capturing the profundity of it all is staggering and because I am sure to fall short."
"Having a bit of time away from the kids and home really gave me a chance to reflect on how busy life has been lately, and to set some new intentions for myself, my family, my work and my creativity."
"When we recapped our classes with each other, we all kept talking about how we knew we’d be reflecting on the things we learned for some time."
"It was such a great week – inspiring, laid-back, full of great, creative people, in the most relaxing atmosphere I have ever experienced, beautiful surroundings and great food. And it was over much too fast."
"I'm back home now, full of gratitude and happiness for the greatest week.This photo completely describes my sensation of being at Squam, I buzzed with energy and inspiration and had so much fun!"
"Every experience I've had at Squam has been fantastic, but this one so far was my favorite."
"The deep, calming feeling that a shift had occurred in my life - I had found more amazing, creative and talented women to add to my tribe"
"It was every bit as charming as promised but the best part – and the reason I was there – was the truly amazing people."
"Since I’ve been back home, I am feeling more focused, energized, creative, and patient — qualities I noticed were somewhat lacking before I left (especially the patient part!)"
"oh Squam. you never fail to intoxicate, rejuvenate and educate me. this was my 9th (!) time at this creative gathering on a loon-filled lake in the woods of New Hampshire. i just read my account of my very first Squam experience and it all holds true to this day. it never gets old."
"First, my apologies, for this post will be full of expostulations on just how wonderful a trip to Squam can be. I know, I've been there, done that before, but it cannot be helped. Here goes for the third time."
"It's a bit overwhelming and it fills me with that lump in my throat that comes from knowing that it's all part of something bigger. Something beautiful and earthy and connected - and based in what we do with the things we love to play with. And I was only there for a bit of socializing on Saturday night! Is it pathetic that I'm waxing all poetic about it after a few hours (and a few beers) or does it just speak to what Elizabeth has created? I'm going with the latter."
"I have been trying to write about the experience for the past three days, but haven’t found the right way of stringing together the words to properly convey and commit those moments to the meaning I intend. . . .There are no simple words for it, and using metaphor is the only clumsy way in which I can imagine it might make sense."
"The creative energy and talent of the women there was indescribably inspiring. I came home excited and energized and so grateful for the people that I met… and feeling so so fortunate to have been able to luxuriate in a few carefree days of just making stuff in a beautiful part of the world. I’ll cherish the memory of sitting around in our cabin in the evenings… drinking wine and working on our various projects… and sharing stories and laughing our heads off! It really was magical."
"It was here where I was infused with inspiration and courage. I learned that I could do it. I saw myself through new eyes"
"Too busy making stuff, crying with laughter and feeding my face to take many photos after my first walks in the woods apparently!"
"Fresh back from the lake, and all I can say is.... ahhhhhhh! I spent most of my time channeling right in the brightness of the twinkle lights and togetherness and less time behind the camera, but I think you can tell from these few images that Squam was its usual luminous self."
"A group of the sweetest, smartest, craftiest and most enthusiastic listeners I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading to. This is not an exaggeration. My audience was stellar!"
"Sunday morning was clear and calm, the water like glass. I'd have loved to have stayed all day, but it was time to pack my suitcase, bid my housemates farewell and head back down the I-93. There's always next year. I'm looking forward to it already."
bonus post: PHOTO ESSAY
"When I go to Squam, I “fill up” in the most mindful way—it changes me every time."
bonus post: PHOTO ESSAY
"Squam is a beautiful lake with cute, rustic cabins sprinkled along it's shores. Each lakefront cabin had it's own dock and on Saturday the weather cooperated and we were able to sit and knit on the dock with our feet in the water, I even jumped in but quickly got out, the water was still very cold. Karen and I shared a cabin with two wonderful ladies and I really enjoyed the evenings sitting around our fireplace, each one of us chatting and laughing while busy on our handwork."
"It was so glorious, everything felt a little surreal. We breathed deep, and sank into peace, quiet, and the presence of fellow makers. My students were amazing, and the whole weekend was such a lovely island in time."
" It was an honor to spend such focused and lovely time with these talented folks!"
"Squam is all about mellow."
"Squam's magic this year was awakening my slumbering creativity. It stretched the limits of my photography and surprised me with an idea for a story. The supportive and loving environment whispers to the heart "Yes, you can do this!" And we fly."
"So, here’s the thing. In my mind, I’ve started this post, I don’t know, maybe five, six times. I’ve ruminated on it, and mulled over it, and otherwise thought it through. What I keep returning to, though, is that words really fail to convey just what it is that happened up on that glorious lake. I wasn’t planning on having profound, epiphanic experiences. I wasn’t at all intending to come away completely renewed, and restored, and invigorated. I had no clue I’d develop deep, meaningful new friendships the likes of which I hadn’t encountered in some time. No, none of that. I just thought I’d go to the woods, enjoy the setting, teach classes on how to can foods and make dairy products, and return home. Little did I know."
"Sure, I was really slow compared to my classmates, but the thing about Squam? No one is judging you. It is a judgment-free zone. Even after three sessions I still need to be reminded of that."
"oh, squam! after coming back from squam, i never know what to write - and i never take enough photos or even begin to capture what a magical place it is."