The Highlights of Highlights

I recently returned from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, where I’d spent four days at the campus of the Highlights Foundation.

Yes, that Highlights, which produces this magazine.

Why’d I go there? For an unworkshop. What’s that? An unscheduled time without a workshop leader, giving you time to write, write, write; eat excellently prepared meals (the only scheduled aspect to the unworkshop); and enjoy the beautiful scenery. I went with three friends and fellow writers. We each had a little cabin in the woods—the proverbial ideal writer’s retreat. (Well, our little cabins in the woods were on the edge of a clearing. 😁)


Three meals a day were served here:

Behind that building was

where I could go for

or when I just needed a good word. (Who doesn’t love cattywampus??? It’s okay if you don’t, but I do.)


Very few trips were made to the internet. I spent the time reading books, writing, walking, and having great conversations. I met many other writers, some of whom were on their own unworkshop. Others were on a meditation/revision retreat. Still others had come for a poetry workshop.

The staff at Highlights is friendly and the food is excellent! I loved my little cabin. Throughout my stay, I had that “ahhhhh” sense of being cared for, with snacks provided whenever I wanted them, meals I didn’t have to shop for or provide, a coffee maker and coffee packets if I wanted to brew my own, or hot coffee/tea already prepared at the Barn if I felt like walking over and chatting with whomever was there.

Two writers I met told me they’d been at Highlights six times. One writer returns every few months. Many others request to stay in the same cabin each time. I feel the same way! My friends and I hope to return to Highlights next year.

What’s the most memorable place you’ve been to recently?

Photos by L. Marie.

48 thoughts on “The Highlights of Highlights

  1. When I was a child, I remember anxiously checking the mailbox for my copy of Highlights. I loved that magazine! I’m happy you had a nice time, L. Marie. The cabins looks cozy. Gosh, it’s been so long since I’ve traveled, I’d have to say my cubicle at the office! 🙂

    • Highlights was such a great magazine!
      Yes, I enjoyed my time, Jill. I wish I had one of those little cabins here at home. 😀
      I hope you can get away to Highlights someday, Jill. I think you would like it.

  2. I loved Highlights magazine when I was a girl. So much fun. I didn’t know about the Highlights Foundation, but what a cool experience for you. My most recent memorable adventure? We went to an Ohio State University football game– which is about 180º opposite of your experience. Go Bucks!

    • I’ve been to Ohio State too! One of my nieces graduated from there. Another is a student there. It was great watching how seriously they take their Michigan rivalry. 😀

  3. Wow, what a wonderful place! I hope you got a lot of writing done, but even if you didn’t, it must have been a peaceful respite. The closest I’ve come to a “writing retreat” was several years ago when my husband and I went to New Orleans, he on business, me to tag along. While he was gone all day at a conference, I sat in a little corner of our hotel room and wrote. The timing was perfect because it was November and I was participating in NaNoWriMo. I think it was 2012 because we celebrated his 60th birthday on that trip. It was a real treat to be able to write for a few hours, then take a walk. Sometimes we had lunch together and then I’d go back and write. I didn’t have the company of other writers, but I appreciated the solitude.

    • New Orleans is a great place to go, Marie. I’ve traveled there by myself just to hang out. So many great restaurants! I’d like to get back there someday!

      I enjoyed my little respite in Honesdale. I got some writing done. But the more valuable thing was to set a good direction for my novel. That’s half the battle.

  4. What a great adventure ~ I’m sure it will be a Highlight of your year! 😉

    We almost put an offer in on a house in the woods in Honesdale in 1999! But then I saw a photo of the 4 acre parcel mid-winter and it seemed a bit “barren” with all the naked deciduous trees and few evergreens to soften the landscape. But it was beautiful. What a terrific place for a writers un-scheduled retreat. A real treat!

  5. I like the idea of an un-workshop, with just enough structure to promote (or not) great interaction. It sounds like my cup ‘o tea. Let me know when you plan to go next year.

    When my kids were little, I subscribed to Highlights, and then High Five for the grands.

    Last week I was in the Poconos for a sister/daughter get together. I was disappointed the leaves were not at their prime. It was 4 days, too short, but sweet nonetheless. 🙂

    • Yes, the leaves were not quite at the peak of fall color, Marian. Still a lot of green, thanks to the rainy weather.

      I think you would enjoy being there, Marian. Some people go because the rates are cheaper than a hotel room. And the quiet atmosphere is so conducive to writing! 😀 Will let you know when we go.

  6. Have you been there before? I seem to recall a post of you being on retreat somewhere, somewhere you could go for walks with similar great scenery.

    • I’ve gone on retreat with the same group of friends. We went to a different part of Pennsylvania before. We also went to Utah and Texas. This was the first time any of us had been to Highlights. We loved it! If you get a chance to come over, I would recommend a stop there.

  7. Soooooo cool, L.Marie. I’m thrilled you got to do some R&R the (he)artistic way…I’d bring along a few instruments and set up a retreat studio to immerse myself in…Is this a retreat you have to apply to attend and be accepted by review? Or is it more along the reservations on a first come first served basis?

    Oh and the most recent memorable place I’ve been was the Columbine Memorial. (Might do a blog post on that sometime.) Sounds weird, but it is a place I frequent when in the area – sad but meditative.

    • Wow. What a sobering memorial. I think you should definitely do a blog post on it, Laura.

      You don’t have to apply to do an unworkshop at Highlights, Laura. It depends on the available space they have. Yes, first come, first served. Other workshops require an application.

  8. Oh how fun, L. I wish I could do something like that. Is it just at certain times of the year? It looked so peaceful. Glad you were able to get away and do this unworkshop for yourself.

  9. What a remarkable retreat that seems to have been, L. Marie. I’m so happy for you that you were able to attend and that it was a meaningful time for you. Yay! I am pleasantly surprised that Highlights has such a place for rest, relaxation, inspiration, and meaningfulness. Like others, I enjoyed Highlights as a child, then my own children did.
    I’ve just come back from the long drive to our Up North family, where we had a great time together, took a long walk in a state forest, sinking into musket, laughing and helping each other out of the mire. 🙂 One of the highlights of the trip, however, was visiting Louise Erdrich’s bookshop, Birch Bark, in Minneapolis with my daughter!

    • So glad you were able to see your family, Penny. 😁 I so wish I could have gone to that bookshop while I was in Minnesota! I’ll be looking for your post about your trip (should you choose to write one).

      Highlights has a lovely campus. I think you would thoroughly enjoy it!

      • I’m hoping to write one, L. Marie. It was probably a good thing that we were on a tight time schedule or we would have both been in the bookshop for hours. I think you would enjoy it should you ever get back up there. There was a sign on the door asking visitors to not take pictures, so, I honored that – but it was hard to do. 🙂

      • Oh man! That would be hard, especially in such a memorable bookstore. They probably have postcards or other pictures of it for sale.

      • I was tempted to sneak on in, but, I behaved. 🙂 The website shows much of the store, which is nice. I actually bought some very nice bookmarks, which I shared with my book group last week. They were made by an Ojibwe artist and too reasonable in price not to. 🙂

      • Aww. What a nice gift for them! You can never have too many of those! I love them! It beats using an old receipt, which I’ve sometimes resorted to when I couldn’t find a bookmark.

  10. That sounds like a wonderful experience. So nice to have your food all ready and waiting. Did you get a lot done? I have so many distractions and obligations when I’m at home. Being on a retreat must lift you into another state of mind.

    • You would love it, Linda. The food is excellent and the grounds are lovely. So quiet (with the exception of the occasional animal growl at night). A great place to relax and write!

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