During your Sounds Of Silence retreat, you’ll join an intimate group of 6 to 12 as you individually walk a 50 KM trail in complete silence during each day. Upon your return to our 100 acre farm each evening, you’ll relax and reflect with others, and be restored by animals, food, fire, and rest. Why silence? Because there’s an intrinsic correlation between being S.I.L.E.N.T in order to L.I.S.T.E.N to what needs to be heard, and the exploration of meaning – fulfillment – purpose – and peace. Our goal at SOS Retreats Canada is for each of our guests to leave having achieved painful clarity on ONE aspect of their life. That’s it. ONE
SOS Retreats are not prescriptive. In other words, we’re not offering you another recipe or a new formula to help your marriage, help you be “successful”, help you cope with loneliness or grieve a loss, or help you become less of an ass. There are more than enough sacred scriptures and wisdom writings in the world for you to meditate on. And we’re pretty sure you can download plenty of lectures by Tony Robbins, Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, Brené Brown, and TED to listen to during your endless commutes back and forth to work. The reality is that in this age of information overload, you most likely already know what you need to know in order to achieve or fix or create or heal. And if you’re now considering walking 50 KM in silence, then you’re well on the path towards “getting your Gandhi on” and being the change you want to see in the world.
At SOS Retreats Canada, it doesn’t matter what you believe – it doesn’t matter what we believe. We’re here to help you chase the “WHY?” Slowly. And we strongly feel that all you need is the right opportunity and just the right space to help you clear the mechanism and block out the noise. Then, the stuff that really matters eventually becomes the loudest during your silence. We’re simply here to help with the acoustics.
Drew walked 1000 KM from France, across Spain to the Atlantic on the ancient pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago, during a three month vow of silence. Why? Because his personal life was falling apart and as a talk-show host, he felt it was time to shut-up in order to hear what needed to be said.
Drew was adopted, grew up in a funeral home, survived a teenage suicide attempt, dropped out of school after graduating Grade 9, ran away to California to be a wrangler, played semi-pro football with NFL/CFL tryouts, drove around North America volunteering for charities, tried to be a firefighter and a rodeo cowboy, was a stay at home dad, a Pastor in Australia, studied stand-up comedy & improv at Second City Toronto, worked a little in film and TV, and was the host of Canada’s most listened to spiritual talk show for 16 years. He’s interviewed hundreds of celebrities, cultural icons, religious leaders & gurus about their beliefs or lack thereof. Drew is a “Red Letter – Agnostic – Theist” who struggles with his own spiritual understandings. As a skeptical believer in search of authentic belief, he sacrificed his eyesight and went blind for the last week of Lent, paid a pagan and an atheist to go to church and report on their findings, drank with witches, celebrated with Wiccans, partied with Pagans, and visited with Satanists.
Drew began writing about his life experiences (think “Eat, Pray, Love” but with balls) in a monastery on an island off the coast of Africa. He continues to wrestle with his own apathy and narcissism by being responsible for the care of 30 animals on a wee Canadian farm in Caledon, Ontario.
Drew’s spiritually inquisitive nature along with his - straight to the point, no BS, total honesty, but let’s laugh at ourselves in the process - conversations, captured my heart the second I met him. Ok, 45-minutes after I met him. With seventeen years of friendship under our belts, he never ceases to surprise me by his personal journey to seek spiritual truths, his most humble self, and a desire to lead others towards their own best.
Drew is a gifted communicator with a keen curiosity and an irreverent sense of humor. Hmm...wonder why I like him so much...
When Drew was a young guy, I thought he was the craziest man I'd ever met. If he didn't end up in jail, Drew would really make an impact with his life. Well, he's not in jail and I think that Drew could become one of Canada's premier motivational leaders. I really believe that he's got what it takes.
FRIDAY – You’ll arrive at the farm in Caledon, Ontario after dinner-time on Friday at 6:30 PM for your SOS Retreat. Your host will welcome you and give your small group a brief tour of the property, introducing you to the horses, donkey, chickens and dogs. You’ll then make your way to the raging Cataract waterfalls, where you’ll begin the 1st section of the Elora / Cataract Trail IN SILENCE. (5 KM / 75 minutes) Arriving back at the farm, the campfire will be waiting for you to roast marshmallows soaked in Baileys Irish Cream. We’ll have lots to talk about after your first SOS experience, as you get to know new friends before settling in for a great night’s sleep.
SATURDAY – In the morning, a nourishing breakfast will be provided. (Freshly brewed coffee, tea, juice, home baked pastries, fresh fruit, granola, yogurt, and warm breakfast frittatas.) Then, we’ll provide you with nourishing snacks and water for your 2nd section of the Elora / Cataract Trail IN SILENCE. (16 KM / 4 hours) . One by one, you’ll stop at a beautiful little park by a tiny country church where your farm-made lunch will be provided. After an hour break as a group IN SILENCE, you’ll begin the 3rd section of the Elora / Cataract Trail IN SILENCE (11 KM / 3 hours). When everyone has reached the trail destination for the day, transportation will pick-up your group and take you back to the farm, where the silence ends and you’ll have time to change, freshen up, and relax before a dinner of top cut BBQ’d beef and fresh veggie shish-kebabs, wild salmon, and fresh veggies. (An abundance of veggies will be available for the non-meat eaters.) After everyone is full and content, we’ll gather around the campfire (or under cover if it’s raining) to share our experiences from the day. Saturday night will most likely be one of the most peaceful and restorative sleeps you’ve ever had.
SUNDAY – The morning begins much the same way as Saturday – nourishing breakfast and a provision of snacks & water for the trail. Then, transportation back to where you left the trail the day before. The 4th section of the Elora / Cataract Trail IN SILENCE will be an easier start to the day (11 KM / 3 hours). You’ll all meet again for another farm-made lunch and restful break. Then, you’ll commence the FINAL section of the Elora / Cataract Trail IN SILENCE (8 KM / 2 hours). Your SOS Retreat will end inside the historic Knox Presbyterian Church in Elora, where one by one our group will arrive to sit in sacred silence, as each of you individually reflect on what you’ve just accomplished and what it was that became the loudest during your Sounds Of Silence Retreat. Transportation will pick up your group and take you back to the farm, where after the farewells (around 5:00 / 5:30 PM), you’ll head back home to begin – again.
* During The September Long Weekend Retreat – Instead of heading out as soon as you return to the farm Sunday late afternoon, this weekend you will stay for another fully catered dinner at the farm, another campfire, another comfortable sleep, and another nourishing breakfast. No need to rise early. Just sleep in, sit by the fire, walk around the farm, visit with the animals, and reflect. Monday is there for you to breathe in what just happened inside, as you spend one more morning outside.
“Drew, this really was a “line in the sand” weekend for me. It was an incredible experience. Since the retreat, I’ve lost 25 pounds, gotten a new job, travelled to three countries, and am on my way to a half marathon this summer. SOS Retreats Canada changed my life in so many ways. I can’t wait to do it again, but as a very different person.”
“This weekend exceeded my expectations. The overall experience is much more than the sum of its parts, and I now feel that what it cost was well worth it! I think it was very skillfully facilitated. Drew, you gave us the space to laugh and be silly but were also able to gently bring us back to thinking more deeply about “chasing the whys”.
“Thank you for being absolutely real … real in words, deeds, and actions. Thank you for allowing us to share a brief moment in time with you, your animals, and your farm. The whole experience was exactly what I needed right now. The food was a 10/10 and the mattress alone was a solid 10!”
“Why does anyone walk 50km’s on a weekend? It’s much harder to find answers when you can’t hear them over all the noise. So I walked 50 km in silence. And at some point, I started to listen. I walked because I needed to turn a corner. I needed a moment to smooth out all the edges. I needed to clear a path. I had an incredible shift in perception on my weekend. It was a completely unexpected and internal experience. I released some buried feelings that I didn’t even know were there and set myself free of the weight of carrying them. What a joy! My SOS Retreat was the right mix of ease, clarity, simple communication, and humour! I felt adequately supported and completely safe. The chandeliers and lights in the barn were so perfect. Everything was so very clean. The beds were great! Lots of treats and snacks to help me replenish, and couches, chairs, and hammocks to help me relax at the end of the day. I loved spending time with the animals and connecting by the fire. I didn’t fully appreciate the accomplishment of walking 50 km until you congratulated me at the end. I had been ruminating and overthinking for a good while before I landed at SOS. What your retreat did for me was lift me out of a cesspool of mental garbage that I was soaking in. So thank you. I have been handed a gift of self acceptance.”
“Your retreat delivered on its promises and had additional fun perks that just added to the overall 10+ experience. I truly mean it when I say that this experience, its purpose, and all that came with it was amazing and done with great thought and attention to detail like no other. Your sense of humour and general matter of fact presence created a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for all. This was a memorable experience meant for self discovery, thought, care and done in a non-judgemental and nature-infused environment! Oh and the mattress was super comfortable!”
“I give much praise to the food, firepit sessions, the offer from Drew to bring anyone back to the farm if they thought any of the walking was too much, the complete lack of judgement from any of the other participants, the stunning location of the barn with the view, the unanticipated delight at meeting the animals and the puppies, the majesty of the barn where we slept, the chandeliers, the layout of the beds spaced far enough apart, the decency of the indoor washroom considering it was a non flushing toilet, the gift of the little metal basket containing treats & notebook & pen. The entire setup of the was A+.”
“I would have paid $1000 for this weekend! I have never in my life seen a farm as clean as yours is, and I spent a lot of summers on farms. The setting, the accommodations – magic. 10/10 And the food? Oh my god!! ❤️❤️❤️ 10++++ I walked away from this weekend with a whole new area for self exploration. As far as retreats go I’m not sure we can ask for more than that. Your facilitation was excellent, you created a safe, nonjudgmental place for us to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, physically and emotionally.”
Walking 50 KM in silence during a weekend at SOS Retreats might be the perfect way for you to listen to what needs to be said, done, felt, or believed. But walking that far might also sound daunting. And being silent for that long might sound impossible! If that’s how you feel - good! That means that this weekend found YOU. I’m not an expert in anything and I’m not here to provide you with “answers'' or explain “The Way”. But I will help you with things like - how to briefly interact with people you meet on the trail when you’re practicing the sacred tradition of silence. (Because Canadians don’t just walk by each other!) As a professional “asker/interviewer” I’ll also help you explore why you signed up for this weekend. And hopefully I can help you with some expectation management, to the point where you'll be able to practice compassionate, non-judgmental, self awareness as you walk your own mini Camino.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
– Max Ehrmann –