Philosophy Workshops & Outings

An extended version of our philosophy walks, our “campfire philosophy” outings are 3-4 day “philosophy as a way of life”-inspired outings that involve overnight camping (either in campsite lodging or tents), hikes (and other activities), and philosophical discussion (led by guest scholars) over a campfire each night.  

Phi-Llama Campfire Outing: 
The Human-Nature Relationship
“A Philosophical Examination of Our Relationship with the Wild”
(Inspired by the Wolves of Yellowstone National Park)
Fri. September 6th — Mon. Sept. 9th
Yellowstone National Park
(Lamar Valley: A Llama-Led Backcountry Trip)

(A MerlinAccess Wild & Yellowstone Forever collaborative venture into the great wide open)

Campfire Outing: 
The Human-Nature Relationship
“A Philosophical Examination of Our Relationship with the Wild”
(Inspired by the Wolves of Yellowstone National Park)
Summer 2020 — Date TBD
Yellowstone National Park
(Lamar Buffalo Ranch Field Campus)

(A MerlinYellowstone Forever collaborative venture into the great wide open)

Philosophy Workshop: 
The Life of Virtue (Part 1)

Saturday, July 13th
(9am – 12:30pm)
Reeder’s Alley
(Caretaker’s Lawn)

Philosophy Workshop:  
The Life of Virtue (Part 2)

Sunday, September 15th
(9am – 12:30pm)
Reeder’s Alley
(Interpretive & Convention Center)

In these two 3.5-hour “philosophy as a way of life”-inspired workshops led by special guest & Princeton scholar, David Nowakowski, PhD (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Union College), we’ll look at what it might mean to live a life of virtue.

Select readings and activities inspired by numerous ancient (and some contemporary) thinkers will be examined and applied with the aim of introducing participants to a variety of philosophical perspectives on virtuous living and practical tools for living well. 

No background in philosophy is required to participate in this workshop. FREE. All ages welcome. $20 Suggested donation. Light snacks & tea provided. Space is limited.   

About Your Workshop Leader

David Nowakowski received his PhD in philosophy from Princeton University and is currently an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Union College in Schenectady, NY.  A self-declared hermit and lover of philosophy and the great outdoors, David specializes in the history of philosophy in India and South Asia. His research in this area focuses on epistemology, mind, and metaphysics. The main theme of his work is to consider Indian intellectuals as deeply systematic thinkers, learning how to reason from the perspective of the philosophers in these traditions.  David is also well-versed in ancient Greek philosophy, and issues relating to food systems and the environment and has become increasingly interested in “philosophy as a way of life” over the past several years.

Retreats can be a time for renewal and relaxation. But they are foremost an opportunity to step out of day-to-day routines, to enjoy a quiet and serene place, and to open up to one’s innermost world.  We are pleased to offer seasonal retreats led by Dr. Justin Whitaker.  A unique blend of philosophy and mindfulness meditation, our retreats are structured for individuals of all backgrounds who are interested in deepening their practice through silence.

Philosophy Retreat: A Journey Within – Deepening Your Practice Through Silence

What:  4-Day Silent Retreat (Spring 2019 & Fall 2019)

Spring Retreat: Tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 16th 2019 – Sunday, May 19th 2019

Fall Retreat:  Tentatively scheduled for Thursday, October 3rd 2019 – Sunday, October 6th 2019

Where:  Deep Bay Center (Lakeside, MT)  — Located 4.2miles South of Lakeside, twenty minutes South of Kalispell, and approx 30 miles North of the town of Polson, MT.  Deep Bay is less than a couple hours drive to beautiful Glacier Park & less than one hour to Whitefish Mountain Resort.  We will help facilitate carpooling opportunities for those who wish to carpool.

Cost: $275 – $425 (+ optional donations) — Varies based on accommodation type selected.  See Below for more info.

~ Limited scholarships available for those in need (please inquire) ~

Retreat Schedule/Agenda:  To be added to our website…stay tuned

About Our Philosophy Retreat Leader

A Helena native who has lived and taught philosophy and religious studies in Missoula, England, India, and China, Justin is a Certified Meditation Teacher who successfully defended his Ph.D. in Buddhist Ethics at the University of London in January 2016.

He holds an M.A. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Bristol and a B.A. (with some graduate work) in Philosophy at the University of Montana-Missoula. 

Justin serves as a valued philosophical advisor & mindfulness practitioner for Merlin CCC and is the founder of Mindful Montana.

View photos and access resources from our Spring 2018 silent weekend retreat at Deep Bay Center.

What to Anticipate on Our Retreats

Our retreat guide & teacher, Dr. Justin Whitaker, has over 15 years of meditation practice and academic training in Buddhism. The retreat is modeled after the 3, 6, and 10-day Buddhist retreats that Justin has attended, though it is not a “Buddhist” retreat, strictly speaking. There will be no bowing or chanting or similar religious elements. The retreat will, however, follow many of the routines and principles of a Buddhist retreat in order to give retreatants a chance to look within.  A full list of guidelines will be sent out to retreatants, but, along with the silence, retreatants will be expected to have no reading materials and to keep writing/journaling to an absolute minimum. You will be asked to dress simply and modestly, with layers appropriate to the location and season, to minimize use of scented lotions, soaps, and shampoo, to bring food that can be prepared simply and without causing disturbance to oneself or others in one’s house, and to follow the full schedule of the retreat and any instructions of the facilitator or teacher.  This retreat will also be an opportunity to break free from the world of electronic devices.  From Thursday at 7pm until Sunday 12noon, the retreat will be a DEVICE-FREE zone.  We advise retreatants to practice this ahead of time so that it is not a major shock come actual “shut-down” time.  In addition, to help retreatants prepare for the retreat (in general), we will provide assignments/check-in’s 4-weeks & 2-weeks out from the retreat start date.  

What is mindfulness?  The term today is well defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn: “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” The practice is in many ways universal, and certainly today it is taught and studied by Western scientists as a universal, secular exercise. On the other hand, the practices developed by Kabat-Zinn and others have their roots in a number of non-Western philosophical/religious traditions. Early Buddhist thought and Zen are two major sources for contemporary understandings of mindfulness. — Justin

Retreat Accommodations

The “Fire House” is nestled into the woods and has a fantastic view of Flathead Lake and the surrounding mountains.     There are three levels with the entrance located on the main level along with a full kitchen, living room, and half bath.  The upstairs has a spacious bedroom that sleeps six singles with a private full bath and an open loft with three twin beds and a single sofa sleeper.  There are two master suites with a full bath in each that are separated from the main living area in the downstairs level (for those who prefer more privacy).  Bedroom #1 has a queen bed with a full sized sofa sleeper.  Bedroom #2 has a King bed with a full sized sofa sleeper.  

  The “Earth House” is set into the woods and has a beautiful view of Flathead Lake with Deep Bay peeking through the surrounding trees.  There are three levels and the entrance is located on the main level with a kitchen, living room, and half bath.  The upstairs has a loft that is spacious for groups.  There is  a bedroom off the loft which has two twin beds and the loft has three double sized sofa sleepers for extra guests.  There are three bedrooms and two full baths that are separated from the main living area in the downstairs level which is great for privacy.  Bedroom #1 has two twins beds, bedroom #2 has a twin and a double bed,  bedroom #3 has four twin beds.

Retreat Accommodation Options

  • $275 (+ optional donations) for shared loft quarters
  • $300 (+ optional donations) for shared multi-bed quarters (i.e., bedroom w/ more than three beds)
  • $325 (+ optional donations) for semi-private quarters (i.e., bedroom w/ two beds)
  • $425 (+ optional donations) for private quarters (i.e., master suites w/ private bathrooms)

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