Registration for the 2018 OPW Women’s Retreat is OPEN.

Want to find out more about this faith-building, church-changing spirit-filled weekend!?
READ ON!

We hope this page answers the most common questions you might have about the retreat, but please feel free to reach out to us if you can’t find the information you are looking for! For questions regarding registration or payment, contact Mollie Hearne via e-mail or at 484-467-7579. This page will be updated as more details become available. You can also find out more about the venue at www.sandycove.org.

What's this 'retreat' thing all about?
The retreat at Oxford Presbyterian Church is made possible in part by the financial support of Oxford Presbyterian Women. Look forward to a weekend filled with relaxation, fun, and most importantly, time spent in God’s presence. Experience His handiwork as acquaintances become friends, and we move towards a deeper understanding of one another, and of our relationship with God.

Activities are conducted in a casual, pressure-free environment. Activities may include large group learning sessions, small group sharing, worship and fellowship. Other popular activities in years past have included silent auctions and sock auctions, crafts, massages, and guided meditation, as well as nature walks. ALL sessions and activities are optional. This is YOUR retreat, and you should feel free to share or participate as much or as little as you feel led to do so. We recognize that it is sometimes in peace and solitude that we find our closest commune with God, and it is our greatest wish that you leave this weekend feeling refreshed and refilled.

Who can come to the retreat?
ALL women of Oxford Presbyterian Church and their adult female friends and family are invited to attend the retreat. The ages of our participants have ranged from 18 to 98! Women who attend church regularly, or those who rarely or never attend, are ALL welcome! This is a judgement-free experience. The diversity of age, experience, and interests brings is priceless to our fellowship!

We encourage you to bring a friend, neighbor, sister, mother, daughter, aunt, grandmother, whomever… but feel free to register on your own! This has become a yearly tradition for many of our participants. Overnight occupancy is based on three to a room, and you can designate your roommate preferences (if you have any) on your registration form.

Where will the retreat be held?

This year we will be returning to the beautiful surroundings of Sandy Cove situated on the Chesapeake Bay. We learned a lot last year about the venue, and we are using that knowledge to make this year’s retreat even better. Our rooms will all be together on the same floor, and our meeting room(s) will be in the same building.

Sandy Cove is located near the town of North East, Maryland, just 10 minutes south of I-95, and just a half-hour’s drive from OPC. If you prefer to sleep at home, commuting is a piece of cake, and you have the option of attending all of the weekend’s activities as a commuter, or just Saturday’s activities.

From Oxford, head south on Third Street. Veer left onto Barnsley Road when the road splits just past Walgreens/Waterway Rd. Continue south and the road will join up with Route 272 South at Jim’s Market. Crossing into Maryland, stay on Route 272 South, to the town of North East. About three miles past the quaint downtown district, you’ll see Sandy Cove’s large sign on the right.

Follow the one-mile wooded lane to the top of the bay. Stay to the left at the “Y” and proceed around and down to the main hotel entrance and parking.

Sandy Cove Ministries
60 Sandy Cove Road
North East, Maryland 2190

Read more about the venue at www.sandycove.org

How much does it cost?
Rates for the 2017 OPW retreat are as follows:

Overnight Retreat option includes:
2 nights lodging in a triple-occupancy room with private bath
5 meals (dinner Friday/3 meals Saturday/breakfast Sunday)
All retreat materials
Access to all open facility amenities
Cost: $195

Weekend Commuter option includes:
5 meals (dinner Friday/3 meals Saturday/breakfast Sunday)
All retreat materials
Access to all open facility amenities
Cost: $115

Saturday-Only Commuter option includes:
3 meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner on Saturday)
All retreat materials
Saturday access to all open facility amenities
Cost: $70

Registration is OPEN for 2018.

As years go by and our numbers increase, it has become necessary for us to move to larger facilities in order to accommodate our growing group. This is both a blessing and a curse, since these types of operations are more costly because they offer more amenities and options. We’ve come a long way since the humble house on the hill at the convent. We are truly blessed that our numbers grow each year and we pray that that continues! We have spent a great deal of time and prayer seeking the best balance to meet our needs, while keeping costs as low as we possibly can. Confidential financial aid is available for those for whom the cost is prohibitive. See the scholarship information below.

What does the fee include?

Your fee includes all retreat materials, lodging (if applicable) and all-you-can-eat buffet meals for the time during which you are registered. At breakfast, you can expect fresh fruit, yogurt, pastries and oatmeal in addition to the hot buffet bar. Lunch and dinner include a full salad bar featuring many farm-to-table items and a delicious dessert. Coffees, water and juices are available for all meals. Unsweetened iced tea is served at lunch and dinner. (Our dining room staff is happy to provide food for special diets, including gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan. If you have special dietary needs, please submit form at least a week in advance.)

Rates are based on triple-occupancy. All rooms will be at least their “standard deluxe” classification:

Though we encourage you to disconnect from technology as much as possible, other amenities include:

  • Free 50 Mbps fiber optic wi-fi throughout the facility
  • 24-hour access to the computer kiosk in the Morning Cheer Café
  • 24-hour access to the prayer room
  • 24-hour access to the TV room on the first floor, adjacent to the lobby
  • Access to many other activities on campus (outlined below in the “what else is there to do” section)

What if I have special dietary needs?

Sandy Cove understands that some guests have health issues that cause various dietary restrictons. In order for them to meet your needs, they ask that you submit the request through a special form on which you will list in the form the name of your food allergy or dietary restriction (example: gluten free, allergy to nuts, low sodium, etc.). CLICK HERE to be taken to the electronic form, or here to download and print out a hard copy.

If your request requires specialty foods that cannot be found in most local grocery stores, please bring these foods along with you. They are happy to store and prepare these foods for you.

Their culinary team will always do their best to service your dietary needs. In order to best serve you, please submit your Food for Thought form at least one week in advance of your scheduled stay with Sandy Cove.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact Executive Chef Clarence “Clu” Johnson at c.johnson@sandycove.org or 800.234.2683.

Are scholarships available?

Kathy at the 2009 retreat

YES! The Kathy Stullken Memorial Retreat Scholarship Fund was established to help subsidize registration fees for women who would not otherwise be able to attend the retreat. If you feel that the cost of attending the retreat would create a financial hardship for you, we want to help! Funds are available to assist you with all or a portion of the fee, and all requests are kept completely confidential. Please designate this on your registration form.

Kathy wrapped in her prayer shawl at the 2013 retreat.

Katherine Baird Stullken was a member of Oxford Presbyterian Church for many years. She conceived of and organized our first women’s retreat back in 2006, while in the midst of a personal battle with breast cancer. She won that battle, but the cancer returned.

We lost Kathy on February 4, 2014, just weeks before we were scheduled to gather for our ninth retreat. The retreat that year was in many ways a time of mourning, but also a time of healing, as we recalled Kathy’s quick wit and good-natured cheeky comebacks. We laughed together and cried together, reflecting on the ways that Kathy had touched our lives, not the least of which was the gift of bringing us all together for that first retreat in 2006. The recognition of the profound impact that these retreats have had on us inspired us to create this scholarship in her honor. We could think of no more fitting memorial than to share this gift of fellowship with other women.

Scholarships are funded from proceeds of the sock auction held each year at the retreat, and also by donations from retreat participants and church members who wish to honor Kathy’s memory in a very tangible and meaningful way. If you would like to contribute to this fund and help someone attend the retreat, please note in the appropriate space on your registration form.

What will our schedule be like?
The 2017 schedule is posted below, but is subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Friday
4:00 Check-in begins / Free Time
6:00 – 7:00 Dinner
7:15 Welcome session activities (overview, ice breakers, etc.)
8:30 Guided meditation
9:30 Free Time/Bonfire (weather permitting)/

Saturday
7:00 Check-in begins for Saturday commuters
7:30 Coffee Chat with God
8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast
9:45 – 11:00 Second session/Group photo
Free Time
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch
1:45 – 3:15 Third session/Prayer circle
3:30 Sock Auction* (see notes –>)
Free Time
6:00 – 7:00 Dinner
7:15 – 8:00 Fourth session
8:15 – ?? “Girls’ Night In” group activities

Sunday
7:00 Coffee Chat with God
8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast
9:15 – 9:45 Pack & check-out
10:00 – 11:30 Closing session
12:15 Lunch off-site at Woody’s**
(reservation required – see Amy Jones)

*Sock Auction – We want to draw special attention to the sock auction, reminding you to bring a pair of socks, and also this year we are asking you to bring a hat to wear during the auction. It can be a crazy hat, a homemade hat, or just your favorite go-to hat… this is to honor the memory of lost friends. There will be a prize awarded for best hat!
**On Sunday, an off-site lunch gathering at a nearby restaurant will be arranged for those who wish to participate. This meal is not included in your retreat registration fee and is entirely optional, but it’s a great way to continue the good vibes of your weekend experience and spend a little more time with friends, old and new! Contact Amy Jones ASAP if you are interested!

What should I bring to the retreat?

In addition to comfortable clothing and toiletry items, here are a few other suggestions:

  • Bible
  • Journal or notebook
  • Pen or pencil
  • Sketchbook and/or other art supplies for your free time
  • Yoga mat for guided meditation
  • Bathing Suit/Towel for the pool/hot tub
  • Outdoor wear and hiking or walking shoes for your free time
  • Umbrella
  • Checkbook
  • Prepackaged Snacks
  • Camera
  • Board games, playing cards and/or puzzles
  • One pair of fun or unique socks & HAT for the sock auction* (see Sock Auction section below)
  • Suggestions/information about possible beneficiaries of the auction proceeds AND completed beneficiary form
  • Change for the vending machine

*Sock Auction – This year we are asking you to bring a hat to wear during the auction. It can be a crazy hat, a homemade hat, or just your favorite go-to hat… this is to honor the memory of lost friends. There will be a prize awarded for best hat!
Be sure to check out the sections below about other activities. There may be other items you’ll want to add to your list! 

Do I have to do all the activities on the schedule?

Absolutely not! We want the retreat to be a pressure-free environment. ALL sessions and activities are optional. This is YOUR retreat, and you should feel free to share or participate as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. You may spend your time however you like during your weekend at Sandy Cove. If you look at the schedule and there is something going on, but you really feel like a nap would be divine … well, sweet dreams! If you just need some time alone, take it! We recognize that it is sometimes in peace and solitude that we find our closest commune with God, and we also know that life as a caregiver or a mom of toddlers can be exhausting. So, it is our greatest wish that you leave this weekend feeling refreshed and refilled.

The only non-negotiable items on the schedule are the meal times, since our group has set reservations in the dining room. Other than that, you may come and go as you like.

Besides the retreat program, what else is there to do at Sandy Cove?

Besides providing outstanding facilities and great food, Sandy Cove seeks to create an environment that offers rest, relaxation and recreation for their guests. Because people relax and recreate in a variety of ways, they have a number of activity options for groups to use and enjoy.

Activities always available:

Prayer Room—offers a quiet place to come and pray. It also has private prayer stations that guide you through a time of prayer and reflection. Start with adoration, then move through confession and thanksgiving, then end with supplication. We invite you to put your prayer(s) to God on paper in “The Book of Remembrance.” As notebooks are filled with prayers, they remain in the prayer room for years to come so that you can return and renew your commitment to the Lord. The prayer room is open 24 hours and is located on the first floor, down the hall from the fitness room.

Morning Cheer Bookstore—More than just books! They have branded souvenirs, music, videos, gift items, jewelry, framed art, sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, travel mugs, and more. If anyone is looking for a good book to read in between sessions or during downtime, they have a wide variety of Christian fiction and non-fiction books. The bookstore is located on the third floor near the entrance to the dining room.

Tennis—2 outdoor tennis courts, available on a “first come” basis. You may bring equipment, or sign it out at the front desk.

Softball, Soccer, Football—Let us know if there is a specific time you would like to use the field. Also, we can make arrangements to sign out equipment to you if you would like.

Basketball—Outdoor full court, available during daylight hours.

Sand Volleyball—2 separate courts, available during daylight hours.

Shuffleboard—6 shuffleboard courts are available, overlooking the waterfront.

Mini Golf—9 hole course near the Chesapeake Lodge. Golf balls are available from a machine. They will “buy back” the ball from you when you are done, if you wish.

Disc Golf—9 hole loop around sports fields, starting near the tennis courts. Loaner Frisbees available there.

Nature Trail—Take a wander in the woods – look for the sign marking the trail entrance along the side of the road, just up from the Pioneer Campground.

Board Games —Always available for sign out at the front desk.

Fitness Center—located halfway down the burgundy hallway on the first floor, on the right. The fitness center features weight machines, treadmill, elliptical machine and bikes. There is a TV with DIRECTV and a DVD player—bring your own exercise DVDs. The fitness room is accessible 24 hours a day with the use of your room key.

Fishing —Enjoy fishing from the pier with your own gear. A fishing license is required and may be purchased in the town of North East at Herb’s Tackle Shop.

Activities with specific hours:

Palmer Connect-itorium–Palmer is the multipurpose building, where most indoor recreation occurs. Basketball and volleyball courts are side by side in the center area, with billiards, ping pong tables and air hockey along the sides. Palmer is available to all groups at Sandy Cove, unless it has been reserved by a group for “exclusive” use. (Indoor soccer, football, baseball, dodge ball, etc. are not permitted in Palmer because of the damage to the lights, walls, windows, etc.) 

Swimming Pools—Sandy Cove has a glass enclosure around their Sports Pool and Hot Tub so that they are available for use all year. The Sports Pool is 4.5 feet deep at its deepest part making it ideal for water volleyball and aerobics. The Hot Tub can seat up to a dozen people for a nice, relaxing soak.

The standard pool hours for fall, winter and spring will be:
Friday 9-11 pm
Saturday 1-5 pm and 9-11 pm

A lifeguard will be on duty during open hours, and though there are no changing rooms at this pool, towel service will be available. Since you must travel 100 feet or so between buildings, bringing sweats or a robe could be helpful. The pools require modest one-piece swimsuits for women and baggy swim shorts for men. Cut offs or boxers are not acceptable.

Did someone really pay $100 for a pair of socks?!?

Yes, and maybe even more! Many of us remember sitting in the sock auction during our first retreat and maybe feeling a little confused by the intensity with which some of the women bid on a pair of cat socks. But by the end, it all made sense. Each year we retreat participants discuss and vote on one or two beneficiaries to receive the proceeds from our sock auction. A portion of the proceeds is kept back for the retreat scholarship fund, and the remainder goes to the selected cause. So the bidding isn’t really for socks. Depending on the selected cause, the amount of your donation that exceeds the actual value of the socks will very likely be tax deductible. Many women plan ahead to bid at the sock auction as part of their normal charitable contributions for the year. But, you do not have to bring socks or bid at all if you’d rather just sit back and watch the silliness unfold. Warning: you may spend the rest of the day with sore sides or numb cheeks from laughing so hard!

If you would like to nominate someone to be this year’s beneficiary, please fill out this form and bring with you to the retreat. 

On the Sunday following the retreat, the women who attended will wear their socks and get up as a group in front of the congregation to give a brief report on the retreat, including the amount of money that the auction raised, and where the money is going. The congregation always looks forward to sharing in the joy of this “sock parade” and hearing about the weekend.

How did the retreat get started?
The first OPW retreat was held in 2006 at Mariawald Retreat Center in Shillington, Pennsylvania. OPC member Kathy Stullken had attended retreats there with her previous church and organized our first women’s retreat, despite waging a personal battle with breast cancer at the time. That first retreat was attended by 17 women, and we returned to Mariawald for the next eight years until they had unexpected major construction and we were forced to find a new location for our 10th year.

Our 2015 retreat was held at McShain-Horstmann Family Life Center at Malvern Retreat House. This facility allowed us to accommodate more women, but we soon learned that March weekends had standing reservations for years into the future. So, in 2016, we moved to nearby Sandy Cove Conference Center which has allowed us to accommodate the varied needs of all our retreat participants, and offer commuting as a much more feasible alternative for those who prefer to sleep in their own beds. The 2016 retreat was attended by nearly 50 women!
Actual quotes from past participants
“I formed such strong bonds during the retreat, and now when I see those women in church, I feel like those bonds between us make our church stronger, too!”
“I felt safe to share my true thoughts and feelings, confident they would be kept in the sanctity of our retreat circle.”
“I had seen her in church before, but I had never taken the opportunity to have a real conversation with her. I never dreamed she was so funny! Now I can’t wait to get to know her better!”

Overnight registration closes February 15, 2017

Don’t miss out!

Download the registration form HERE!