Frequently Asked Questions
WHO CAN ATTEND?
What kinds of men attend the Minnesota Men’s Conferences?
The Minnesota Men’s Conference (MMC) reaches out to men of all ethnicities, orientations, nationalities, backgrounds, life experiences, and ages. Any person who identifies as a man is welcome to participate. We welcome men from all over the country, from large cities to rural communities, and from all over the world. In general, the men who attend our conferences are interested in living the question of what it means to live a mythically-informed life of depth and purpose, a life of soul.
Is there a religious or other affiliation associated with the conference?
No, the Minnesota Men’s Conference does not favor nor promote the views or beliefs of any particular faith. In that sense, we are non-denominational. We do however explore how many faiths, traditions, and cultures approach what it means to revere the sacred, and how soul figures into the maturation of men.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
What is the Minnesota Men’s Conference?
The Minnesota Men’s Conference was started by Robert Bly in 1984, following an interview and conversation between Bly and Keith Thompson in a magazine article titled, “What do Men Really Want?”. Conferences since then have ranged over a wide range of topics and teachings. But the work of conferences has consistently addressed the relationships men in particular experience in the modern world, their challenges and associated developmental trials: psychological, relational, mythological, and spiritual. Men’s developmental possibilities are explored and experienced through old stories, through the insights of poetry, by making music together, through simple ritual, and by opening our hearts to the grief, the joy, and full-range of feeling of which mature men are capable.
What happens at these conferences?
Generally speaking, each day begins with an opportunity for singing which is then followed by breakfast. Mornings are spent in community activity which usually includes poetry, story, or some discussion on matters pertinent to the overarching theme of the gathering. After lunch, there’s some free time, and then often some collective creative work. In the evening we return to the story, participate in singing or enjoy musical performance, or come together in ceremony. There are many opportunities to get more deeply involved in dance, singing, poetry, storytelling, or to simply enjoy the rare experience of being an unguarded and joyful member in this perennial community of men.
HOW DO I GET TO THE CONFERENCE?
Spring and Fall conferences take place at Blue Beech Coulee, a private wooded acreage near Plum City, WI. 2074 150th St, Plum City, WI 54761. Directions from Minneapolis, MN.
Winter conference takes place at the YMCA Camp St. Croix, a camp near Hudson, WI. 532 County Road F, Hudson, WI 54016. Directions from Minneapolis, MN.
Travelers arriving by air generally fly into Minneapolis (MSP) airport. Opportunities to carpool to and from may exist for those interested. Contact our event coordinators for more details.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
What should I pack?
Below is a list of some of the items you might consider.
Spring and Fall
tent and pad
warm sleeping bag
a variety of comfortable warm and cold weather clothes, warm coat, sweaters, layers
rain jacket and pants
hat (warm for evenings/ cold days)
good walking shoes
a portable camp chair
notebook, journal, sketchbook
flashlight & extra batteries
a water bottle
a reuseable mug for coffee or tea
special foods for diet
knife for carving (remember to pack in checked luggage if flying)
a few small inexpensive gifts to exchange
Winter — non-seasonal items above, plus…
earplugs (statistically, snorers outnumber non-snorers 2:1)
Winter weather gear, including long underwear, winter jacket, possibly snow pants, winter boots, at least two pair wool socks, mittens, etcetera.
Would I be expected to attend the entire conference?
Yes, your attendance is expected for the duration of the conference. We create a container for a rich experience. You and the other men will benefit from your continued presence throughout the event.
Can I bring a young man to the conference?
Yes, we encourage young men to attend. 14 years old is the youngest age that we would recommend for our gathering. All minors must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Do I have to be a poet, musician, or have some special creative talent to attend?
Absolutely not! No particular artistic expertise is sought nor required. The conference in large part is here to give nourishment to our creative soul. (Yes, we each have own). Anyone capable of being imaginative and playful (which is every man) will benefit from this rich atmosphere of story, music, and poetry and will be fed by it.
Can I bring my own musical instruments, or poetry of my own?
Yes, there may be many opportunities to share your poetry with other individuals or to play drums, guitars, or other instruments over the course of the events.
Is alcohol allowed at the conferences?
The MMC does not condone the use of alcohol or any non-prescription drugs or substances of any kind at our events. Also, no firearms are allowed at any of our events.
Can I bring my pet? (dog, cat, aardvark, water buffalo, etc.)
No pets. Though many of us have pets—or they have us—we have in the past found pets to be a distraction from the work of the conference and often a nuisance. Use this time for yourself. Fido will notice and appreciate you for it when you return home.
Can I bring my cell phone?
Cell phones work in some locations (depending on where you are standing and the strength of your provider’s network). We’re out in the woods, and that’s a good thing! There is a telephone at Camp St. Croix, but it is restricted to emergencies, so please don’t plan on using it for making or receiving calls. In general, we appreciate our participants from refraining using cell phones as much as possible. If you must use your phone during the event, we ask that you make calls or text outside of our meeting spaces and do so quietly and discreetly.
What are the facilities like at each camp?
Blue Beech Coulee is a private wooded acreage located near Plum City, WI. The “off-grid” camp features several amenities. We have a large storytelling lodge able to accommodate our entire group with a big central fire pit to gather around. We have an outdoor cook shack for group meals. Large tents may also be set up for group gathering spaces depending on the weather. And we have private composting or chemical toilets. A well is on site for drinking water and for washing up. Most participants set up their own tents. Some may choose to sleep in their own camper vans or trucks. Being off-grid, there are no electrical or plumbing hookups. Participants use battery power for any electrical needs.
YMCA Camp St. Croix is a beautiful camp situated on the banks of the St. Croix river near Hudson, WI. Like most “Y” camps, it features meeting lodges, heated shared cabins, and a large cafeteria. The camp has a large shower and bathroom building separate from and nearby the sleeping cabins. The main lodge has a roaring fireplace and comfortable space for everyone to gather.
WHAT IF I HAVE REGISTRATION QUESTIONS?
How do I complete my registration?
1) Go to the Register page.
2) Click on the Event you wish to attend.
3) Click “Add to Cart”.
4) Click on the Shopping Cart, upper right corner.
5) Click “Checkout” and fill in your name and credit card information.
6) Voila! You have reserved your place at the next event. See you there.
What if I need a refund?
To request a refund, send your request in an email listed on our Contact form. Put “Refund” in the subject line. Requests for refunds prior to two weeks (14 days) prior to the start of the event will be honored in full, less $25 handling fee. No refunds will be issued after that time.
How can I support the work of the Minnesota Men’s Conference beyond attending an event?
To make a tax-deductible donation to our organization, please see our Donate page. And thank you.
What if I still have questions?
If you still have questions, please contact our event coordinators listed on the Contact page.