Annual Ferry Beach Retreat
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!
“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.
- 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 usually the time for 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
Hikes and rambles
- Cascade Falls (13-minute drive to trailhead parking)
- Saco Heath Preserve (15-minute drive)
- Biddeford Tide Pools (25-minute drive)
- Stage Island: walk out at low tide (25-minute drive)
- Gilsland Farm Audubon Center (30-minute drive)
- Prouts Neck Cliff Walk and Bird Sanctuary (33-minute drive)
Canoeing and kayaking
- Saco River (15-minute drive; rent kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards)
- Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center (17-minute drive; rent canoes or kayaks)
- Meals and lodgingMeals 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.
- ScheduleMost years, check-in is from 5 pm to 10 pm on Friday evening. Room check-out on Sunday is by 10 am, with lunch at around 12 pm, and members of our group departing the campus by 4 pm. The specific details of this year’s schedule will be posted at Ferry Beach 2023.
- Volunteer to help with or lead an activity!Most Ferry Beach activities are organized by the attendees. In past years, these have included
- nature hikes
- dance class
- a multi-generational soccer game
- 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.
- How much does it cost?We are committed to making the Ferry Beach retreat financially accessible. Please do not let costs prevent you from attending the Retreat. Scholarships are available. Please contact Marta for information.The full pricing info can be found in Realm; for an overview, please see the 2023 Ferry Beach page.
- How accessible is Ferry Beach?As noted on the Ferry Beach Retreat Center’s website, “Guests requiring accessible lodging and bathroom may stay on the first floor of Underwood or the Cross Cottage (private rooms with private baths). All of our buildings are equipped with ramps and we have one beach wheelchair. Please understand that Ferry Beach is a beach community. We do our best to address the accessibility needs of all guests, but sometimes this is not possible due to the sandy nature of our environment.” Ferry Beach is committed to enhancing it’s accessibility, but it is very much a beach environment, with sandy walks and rustic buildings. Some areas (for example the Grove Chapel) may be difficult to reach by wheelchair, as it is across a sandy yard. Please contact the Committee at email@example.com to discuss your specific needs.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to set one up, so you’ll be ready to register for Ferry Beach. You do not need to be a member of First Parish to be eligible for an account.
- More about the retreat centerThe 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/
“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.”