Julie Gammack produced her first writers’ retreat in 1992. She had been a columnist for The Des Moines Register and in that capacity interviewed a number of local authors and writers.
Gammack picked a camp in rural Iowa, south of Des Moines, and began filling the roster of speakers. On the list was the Dean of the Business College at the University of Northern Iowa, He was an occasional essayist whose work ran on the newspaper’s editorial pages. In that call, he said he had written a ‘little novel’ that was getting a lot of attention from small, independent booksellers. He agreed to come to the camp to promote his ‘little novel.’
During the weeks leading up to that first writers’ retreat, the essayist’s little novel had secured the Number One spot on the NYTimes Bestseller List where it would ride for weeks and weeks.
‘The Bridges of Madison County,’ by Robert James Waller, was such a hit it made that first writer’s retreat a big success.
Gammack produced similar events in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the San Juan Islands, Vail and another couple in Iowa.
In February of 2020 she retired from her position as a business coach through Vistage International, And then the pandemic hit, changing all plans to enjoy travel in retirement.
During self-imposed quarantine, she and her husband played a lot of solitaire, watched way too much TV, and otherwise wasted time.
In January of 2021 Gammack launched a Substack column, Julie Gammack’s Potluck, and returned to one of her many interests. That sparked the idea of reviving the Writers’ Retreat. Folks who come to those things are fascinating. And fun. Through the years, Gammack has heard from former attendees who attended the retreats in the 1990s and found them life-changing.
Lake Okoboji draws summer visitors from around Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota. September is a great time to visit because most tourists are home at the end of Labor Day weekend.
Get your Covid-19 vaccinations and come have fun with us?