Julie Gammack presents

The Okoboji Writers’ Retreat


SEPTEMBER 19, 20 and 21, 2022

For all skill levels.

There is a story in everyone. Let us help you find yours.

Award-winning authors, journalists, playwrights, teachers, editors, memoir-writers, and storytellers, are all committed to helping you realize your goals as a writer. That’s what this is all about. Here’s what 2021 participants had to say about the OWR.

Cost: $695 ENROLL NOW

TOPICS, 2022

NEW: Otto Knauth Scholarship for Environmental/Science writers: https://forms.gle/Zggr2sabZ2dghGii7



Small groups. That’s a secret ingredient to the Okoboji Writers’ Retreat (OWR) experience. During 2.5 days, attendees can choose from over 30 small group sessions, ranging from hands-on workshops to panel sessions on memoir, storytelling, fiction, non-fiction, and the business side of publishing.

Check out our impressive speaker list.

Each of the 32 speakers is participating in the OWR to help you.

What brought you to this web page? Did a friend encourage you to check it out?


Maybe you’re curious because you heard about it on Public Television or Iowa Public Radio? Or you read about it in a column/news story about the first Okoboji Writers’ Retreat held last September.

If you are like most of our enrollees, you might think a writers’ retreat is for ‘professional’ writers. Although half of those who attended last year have been published, the other half enjoy writing, want to be better, and gain the confidence to tackle projects.

The Okoboji Writers’ Retreat is about, and for, you. There is a story in everyone, and our team is preparing to help you tell yours.


All attendees are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and wear masks indoors. Many sessions will be held outside on the campus of Lakeside Labs.


Check out the slideshow of pictures from the 2021 Okoboji Writers’ Retreat, plus headshots of 2022 speakers. Good times.

Comments from 2021 OWR participants. All speakers received rave reviews. Here is a sample:

The session with John Dinges was on a level of Big Ten 2nd semester Advanced Rhetoric. Provided his famous RULES as a handout to everyone. His presence was just magnificent.

Rekha Basu was a 5! Probably the reason I signed up immediately for the OWR2021. In the presence of this genius woman, her fearlessness and guile, you were either struck dumb or eloquent. Everybody has a voice, sure enough. From a distance, she looks quite tall. Then you get within a couple of feet and she is shorter than 5’5″. That is stature!!! 

My session with Arnold Garson was a 5! He offered plenty of tips for online genealogy research, as promised.

Deb Engle was excellent, on topic, asking us to share about ourselves, giving us writing time then time to share our little bit with comments and encouragement.

Beth Hoffman was a 5! In my case, I saved the best for last. Beth had excellent writing prompts and took enough time to work with each session participant. I think we all agreed that we could have spent a full hour (or two) with her. I got a solid piece of advice on my work, and she agreed to review 10 pages of it.

I got everything I came for and more! I picked up three new, very good friends on the boat ride! Thank you so much. That wasn’t on my Bingo card!

I came for courage and left with that and so much more. This was a top ten life experience.

Thank you for telling us there would be a variety of skill sets among attendees. I was intimidated about signing up, but once I arrived I felt right at home. Every speaker, no matter how successful, seemed to be there just for me. I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

The Okoboji Writers’ Retreat, 2022, will be held on the campus of the Lakeside Laboratory on West Lake Okoboji, Iowa.

The Lakeside campus is noteworthy for both its natural areas and its buildings. The natural areas are diverse and include prairies, wetlands, and forests. Eleven of Lakeside’s 37 buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


One of many rooms available for small group sessions.
Mary Skopec, director, Lakeside Labs

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About The Organizer

Julie Gammack has produced writers’ retreats in Iowa, the Blue Ridge Mountains of WVA, Whidbey Island, WA, and Vail, CO.

The first Okoboji Writers’ Retreat, held in September of 2021, was sold out.

Gammack is a former Des Moines Register columnist, WHO-AM radio talk radio host, Vistage business coach, and current columnist via Substack.


You can do this.

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