The Very First Gathering


The very first Gather art retreat took place in Sonoma, CA, from August 22-24, 2012. At the end of their summer vacation, eight girls came together for a retreat with Gather founders Janelle Kraynak and Cheryl Smith Alvarez.

The goal was for the girls to discover a little bit more about themselves through art projects; gentle yoga; meditation-inspired circles; journaling and simple, heartfelt activities.

We hoped the girls would have time to unwind, dream, discover, find their creative voices and be brave, in a safe, supportive environment with friends.  Mostly, we wanted them to Gather and share and explore with us.

The daily routine included morning and afternoon artful sessions, sprinkled with hikes, swimming, cooking, singing, dancing and a whole lot of laughter.

At the retreat’s end, the girls’ parents joined us for afternoon tea, swimming and a fabulous open art studio display of their creative expressions.

Following the retreat, the girls reflected upon what they learned and what they enjoyed most about the experience. Many shared their thoughts about our mindfulness-based curriculum, noting that they felt mindfulness would help them focus better and be happier at school; be better at music, sports and activities; avoid fights and arguments; fall asleep at night and calm down when they were upset.

“Gather was really fun! I loved everything, especially being with friends,” one girl said following the retreat. “Thank you for creating Gather,” said another.

  1. Lexi K

    I had a lot of fun at the first Gather workshop in Sonoma. I had a lot of fun making cool art because it taught me that nobody is perfect. We did some really random shapes on our paintings but they turned out looking awesome!

    February 22nd, 2013 // Reply
  2. Cheryl Smith Alvarez


    Thanks for sharing your experience and feelings! There is no perfect …. imperfectly perfect and “ISH” can be applied not only to the art we create, but to everyday life. You are awesome.

    February 23rd, 2013 // Reply
  3. ashley

    I wish I was there!! :(

    July 4th, 2013 // Reply

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Cultivating a place where girls can Gather and explore life through art, and incorporate the social and emotional aspects of mindfulness

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