"We've got a responsibility to live up to the legacy of those who came before us by doing all we can to help those who come after us."
Big Sky Retreat, created originally as the Grand Teton Retreat, gathered for the first time in 1976! Its roots, however, stem clear back to 1960 where a friendship began between Roy Graves and Al Heard at a church in San Francisco. Over many years the two stayed in touch, often discussing the idea of a creating a unique gathering based around meditation and ‘going within’ rather than the intellectual pieces they experienced at other retreats in the past.
In 1974, Al Heard and Helen Brungardt discovered the Jackson Lake Lodge in Moran, Wyoming, a rugged resort of types with a glorious view of the Grand Tetons. Mesmerized by the natural setting and incredible feelings of tranquility, Al and Helen knew it was the perfect location and instantly reached out to Roy Graves, Bettie Bogart and Gladys Wright for their expertise in making this gathering happen. One-by-one they marshaled resources, carefully planned and recruited as many friends as possible; thus creating the Grand Teton Retreat!
The first Board of Directors consisted of Al Heard, Helen Brungardt, Bettie Bogarte, Gladys Wright, Fred Vogt, Charles Geddes, Joe Richards, Roy Graves and Clarke Odden. In the beginning years, the Retreat was mostly funded by the Board- but eventually it caught on and was funded by those eager to attend. According to Roy Graves, “From cool weather, to Tai Chi Chih on the mountain side patio, and even wedding reaffirmations on ‘Lunch Box Hill;’ it became a spirited and spiritual retreat in every sense of the word!”
After the retreat in 1994, the Grand Teton Retreat was moved to Big Sky, Montana for a couple of reasons. The owners of the Jackson Lake Lodge let it be known that the ‘woo-woo happenings’ might be a bit much for their ‘regular clientele!’ The cost of the retreat at this location became too much to absorb so the Board set out to find a more affordable and accepting location. In 1995, the gathering was renamed to Big Sky Retreat and carried the theme of “Moving Mountains,” so fitting for that time!
Bettie Bogarte, a Board Member for 23 years, retired in 1998. Upon stepping down, Bettie said “…it was like losing an important part of her. The people who attend and the activities always gave me more than I could contribute to it.”
Today, we can proudly say we are the longest running New Thought retreat out there. Our Board still consists of one of the founding board members, Charles Geddes, who ensures the values and ideas that began this incredible tradition, are still intact. We hope you will join us so you, too, can experience the magic that happens year after year!
Jackson Lake Lodge, 1974