WALDEN Institute, retreat center for young adult cancer survivors now operational


AU TRAIN– True North Treks is a national non-profit with the mission to empower young adult cancer survivors with retreats that center around the great outdoors.

The organization’s newest feature is the WALDEN Institue. It’s a home along Lake Superior in Au Train that over the past year has been transformed into a retreat center.

“Some of the things that we’ve done are to the main house,” said David Victorson, Executive Director, True North Treks. “We’ve made it more accessible for people and to just make it more friendly for groups of people coming in.”

Victorson says they made a staircase for easy access to the beach. They also created a yoga studio from what once was a garage. And even some local U.P. artists are filling the walls of the building.

“I reached out to people at the East Ludington Art Gallery in Escanaba and their artists very enthusiastically came out and we began looking at the space to get a sense of the theme and style that we were looking for and now as you walk through the rooms, there are U.P. artists featured all over the place and many of them are actually cancer survivors themselves,” said Victorson.

Just this past June, the WALDEN Institute held hits first trek exploring the U.P. outdoors.

“They went to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and they walked into Chapel Rock Beach and had a nice experience at Pictured Rocks and then they came back, slept here every night and then explored the property,” said Victorson. “And then during our treks, we do a lot of yoga and mindfulness meditation and lots of sitting around the campfire so that they can get to know each other hear more about what their experiences are like.”

The first trek was at maximum capacity where they can sleep 13 in beds but plan on expanding it in to other buildings around the property in the future.

“This new place and space is so important for us because it really can help so many more young adult cancer survivors have access to supportive programming like the kind that we do,” said Victorson. “We help young adult cancer survivors get reconnected again after the very disconnecting experience of cancer.”

The WALDEN Institute’s next trek is scheduled in August.

For more information about True North Treks, click here.

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