20th Annual Ferry Beach Retreat

Friday, October 2 – Sunday, October 4, 2020

Each fall, the First Parish community gathers for a weekend at Ferry Beach, a UU retreat center in Saco, ME. Whether you are a newcomer to First Parish or a long-time member, whether you are seeking connection and conversation or quiet and contemplation, the Ferry Beach retreat has something for you.


First Parish’s annual retreat to Ferry Beach will not take place this fall. This decision was made after considering a variety of factors, including the health of the congregation and the larger community, as well as Maine’s quarantine and testing requirements.

The Ferry Beach committee is considering an alternative social, community-building event, with a mixture of online activities and in-person, distanced, outdoor activities. Even if you don’t usually attend the Ferry Beach retreat, please help us decide whether to proceed to the next stage of planning an alternative event, by completing this very short (one to three questions) survey.

“I love the opportunity to recharge and connect with the First Parish community—people of all ages and at all stages in their lives—in a relaxed, informal environment. The weekend offers the opportunity both for solitary contemplation and for engagement. One of my favorite aspects is having the retreat center all to ourselves, so we know that everyone is connected to First Parish, which creates a sense of warmth and security during the weekend.”

  • Who is the retreat for?

    You! Everyone in the First Parish community is welcome—members and non-members; adults, youth, and children; families and individuals. Come on your own, or bring a friend.

  • What can I do at Ferry Beach?

    Walk on the beach or in Ferry Beach State Park. Play board games or do jigsaw puzzles. Sit in a porch rocker and read, chat, or daydream.

    Saturday night is the popular “Talent/No Talent Show.” On Sunday morning, there is a worship service in the Grove outdoor chapel.

    Attendees volunteer to organize most of the other events and activities, which in the past have included a campfire and s’mores, yoga, a trip to the local thrift store, outdoor games, and more.

    Nearby destinations and activities:

    • Biddeford Tide Pools (25-minute drive)
    • Saco Heath (10-minute drive)
    • Cascade Falls (15-minute drive)
    • Prouts Neck Cliff Walk (25-minute drive)
    • Canoe @ Scarborough Marsh Audubon (15-minute drive + small rental fee)
    • Gilsland Farm Audubon (35-minute drive)
    • Stage Island- walk out to at low tide (25-minute drive)
    • Kayak Saco River (5-minute drive + rental fee)

  • Meals and lodging

    Meals are provided in a wonderful, large dining room, complete with outdoor picnic tables and a huge wrap-around porch. The meal plan includes three meals on Saturday, and breakfast and lunch on Sunday. (Ferry Beach does not serve dinner on Friday evening.) For those with special dietary needs, we will provide the Ferry Beach chef with a count of vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free, and other dietary needs as provided to us via the registrations. 

    Lodging options include 2-, 3-, and 4-person shared rooms, cottages/cabins, and camping. There is a meals-only registration option available for those who want to camp or stay at a nearby motel or B&B.

  • Schedule details

    As details become final, they will be posted here.

    Check-in will likely be from 5 pm to 10 pm on Friday evening. Room check-out on Sunday is by 10 am, with lunch to follow at around 12 pm. Members of our group must depart the campus by 4 pm.  

  • Volunteer to help with or lead an activity!

    We are looking for people interested in assisting our Youth Group with the production of the Talent/No Talent Show, operating the light and sound board, and organizing the order of skits. We are also seeking help on Saturday night to build the campfire for roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.

    Most Ferry Beach activities are organized by the attendees. In past years, these have included

    • nature hikes
    • yoga
    • dance class
    • a multi-generational soccer game
    • meditation
    • board games
    • group outings to Goodwill, frisbee golf, and the Audubon Sanctuary
    • poetry readings and book discussions

    If you would like to organize an activity, you can post a sign-up sheet at Ferry Beach. Blank sign-up sheets will be available.

  • More about the retreat center

    The 32-acre retreat center has an outdoor fire pit and an outdoor chapel, pine forest campsites, a dining hall, many gathering spaces, and nine hundred feet of beachfront. Learn more about the retreat center at https://www.ferrybeach.org/

  • How do I sign up?

    Registration will be through Realm, First Parish’s online directory and database. If you don’t have a Realm account, please send email to realm@firstparish.info to set one up. You do not need to be a member of First Parish to be eligible for an account. Payment is not due at the time of registration, so please don’t wait to register.

  • Forms and downloads

    Families who are bringing teens aged 13 to 17 must sign the teen waiver. Please download the waiver, sign it, and bring the signed waiver to check-in.

    At the retreat, all attendees  will be asked to sign the retreat covenant, acknowledging Ferry Beach policies and expectations. Please read the covenant in advance.

  • Questions?

    For questions about creating a Realm account, contact realm@firstparish.info. For other questions, contact the committee at ferrybeach@firstparish.info.

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“Ferry Beach is a truly magical place—warm, welcoming, full of fun! There’s something for everyone, and people are encouraged to be as active as or peaceful as they want to be. On my first visit last year, I did both! Hiked with a group, whooped it up at the Talent/No Talent show, facilitated a morning meditation group amid the pines in the campground, and walked the beach both alone and with friends old and new. My Ferry Beach experience cemented my decision to join First Parish.”