Lake of Dreams is a special place – quiet, serene and the real “home” of our family. Built in 1996, we were attracted to the site as our family became avid recreational water sport enthusiasts. The recreational aspect became more serious when our neighbors began coaching our youngest sons to become competitive water skiers before the age of 10. Since then, water skiing has become a huge part of our family life and Lake of Dreams has hosted many clinics, camps and competitions for kids throughout North America.
In 2003, the serenity of Lake of Dreams was shattered by the effects of the disease of alcoholism and the site of a “bottom” (when your life is falling apart faster than you can lower your standards). What at the time seemed like the worst thing to happen, has turned out to be the best thing for our entire family as the 12 step program of recovery has come to permeate and underpin the values and principles our entire family works to be each and every day.
To build on the positive and spiritual energy that began with the 2003 bottom, our family is passionate about sharing Lake of Dreams with those seeking recovery. To this end, we are most pleased that men and women are willing to take a weekend of time in the Spring and Fall to come to Lake of Dreams for a weekend retreat for spiritual recovery through the 12 step programs. We are most grateful to the men and women who participate in the group conscience to ensure these retreats function and serve their purpose of helping people with their recovery.
Our family is also passionate about Lake of Dreams hosting an annual picnic for people in recovery on the Saturday before Father’s Day. This is a special day where families of people in recovery come to engage in a host of family activities and together, show that families can have an awesome and healthy time in a clean, sober environment. This day also includes speakers from AA, Al-Anon and Alateen. It is truly a special day and all are welcome to attend with family and friends.
Our family has taken steps to ensure that Lake of Dreams is available for these retreats and annual picnic for as long as possible.
History of the Recovery Retreats
The first retreat was held at Lake of Dreams in the Fall of 2007. The idea started when a few men from a meeting were helping a fellow member dispose of a large pile of logs that had been left by the utility that had taken them down after a severe ice storm that damaged power lines in her yard. I had agreed to dispose of the logs as we had use as firewood at Lake of Dreams and asked these men to help me load the vehicles. While loading, one of the men asked what I was going to do with all this wood at the lake. I spontaneously responded with “let’s have a retreat at Lake of Dreams”. One of the men immediately responded that he would organize the retreat and his efforts led to that first retreat.
The format was stolen from a long serving men’s retreat held near Sullivan, Missouri. The key traditions of the Lake of Dreams retreats include:
1). both AA & Al-Anon format meetings
2). working retreat to give every person an opportunity to be of service to others
3). scholarships for those unable to afford the cost of attending and
4). attendees commit to attend the full retreat
5). only requirement for participation is a desire to improve one’s life through a program of recovery
6). governed by a group conscious who serve the members that desire to attend.
In 2012, the number of retreats were expanded to 2 each Spring and Fall to keep the groups to a more intimate number of approximately 25 men. Recently, a third retreat was added for the same purpose. The first women’s retreat was held in the Spring of 2013 and a second retreat was recently added as well. The group conscience coordinate scheduling of the retreats with the family and ensure that the premises and property are left in the best condition possible.
Having attended most of the retreats and all of the family picnics, we have seen many people enjoy significant spiritual awakenings and a few spiritual experiences during the course of the retreat. We are convinced that the environment of witnessing 25 people engaged in spiritual action – from those who lead the retreats, participate in the group conscience, lead meetings, speak, cook, clean-up, help another member who may be struggling, share or otherwise be a good example of the spiritual principles of the program – is what leads to awesome progress for many.
We are grateful for those men and women who desire to share in the experience of Lake of Dreams retreats and thereby contribute to the spiritual energy that is replacing the negative and destructive energy that existed prior to recovery. Our desire is to see this spiritual energy build for generations to come.
Paul D. Melnuk