When you turn off the main road into the 220-acre sanctuary at the Taconic Retreat Center, your stress immediately begins to melt away. A quarter-mile drive of lush forests leads to the peaceful Mirror Lake, where the retreat center sits on the tranquil shore.
The Christian center’s natural setting removes distractions so attendees can achieve the “retreat, rest, refuge and renewal” that the center’s staff seeks to provide to every visitor. Located in Milan, New York, the center is two hours north of New York City; one hour south of Albany, New York; and three hours west of Boston. With such easy access, groups come to the site from the northeastern United States and beyond.
Whether a faith-based group wants to spend time staring at gently rippling water in contemplation, engaged in high-energy bonding activities or both, the Taconic Retreat Center offers a plethora of activities to accommodate a variety of ways to find God.
The Church of Nazarene founded Taconic in 1966 as a Christian camping and conference center. Since then, the site has hosted events for a wide range of churches, colleges, Christian schools and other organizations.
White Hall serves as the main building, with a guest services office, a dining hall, four meeting rooms, two prayer rooms and a game room. Guests typically spend most of their time in this building. Besides the gymnasium, White Hall’s Lakeside is the site’s largest meeting room, with a capacity of 200.
Next door to While Hall is the newly renovated Training Center. This meeting facility hosts day retreats for groups looking to separate themselves from the rest of White Hall’s activities. The Training Center has a main meeting room, three breakout rooms, a kitchenette and bathrooms.
Groups can use the 18,000-square-foot Mucci Center as a gymnasium for indoor sports or a space for large-group worship. The gymnasium sits next to the center’s athletic field and other outdoor activities.
The Taconic Retreat Center’s staff strives to prioritize hospitality by working to customize groups’ experiences. The staff tries to ensure that guests can focus on growing closer to God, so the team works with group leaders in the weeks leading up to the stay to make sure everything is set for the group’s preferences. Group leaders can choose their meeting room setup, activities, meals and dietary restrictions beforehand for fewer distractions during the retreat.
Accommodations vary in style from the rustic cabins to hotel-style rooms. The Bergers Cottages offers 12 rooms for a capacity of 72. Each room is equipped with its own bathroom, a double bed and bunk beds. The larger Miller House sleeps up to 106 in 22 rooms in a dorm-style building. Each room has its own bathroom for up to six guests. Ten log cabins hold up to 90 campers for a no-frills experience. Other accommodations hold smaller groups wanting more privacy.
Faith-based groups sometimes want to create their own worship services and programs, while others enjoy attending premade retreats. The Taconic Retreat Center encourages both with some spiritual-focused events throughout the year.
The center’s annual men’s retreat weekend happens in the fall. The annual youth retreat occurs each winter. Day retreats pepper the calendar, such as an anger management series and the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship retreat.
Taconic’s staff runs the men’s retreat and youth retreat programs; the day retreats occur in partnership with other organizations.
Breaking a Sweat
Attendees can get their hearts pumping on the Taconic Retreat Center’s climbing wall and zip line. These high-adrenaline activities help groups bond through memorable shared experiences.
The climbing tower consists of three parts. First, participants climb up to a high rock face. Once at the top, groups seem to fly back down on the zip line. The site’s “vertical playpen” allows more climbing challenges.
The center also offers a low-ropes course and teambuilding activities for additional fun and bonding. During the warmer months, groups can venture onto the lake with free rentals of single kayaks, double kayaks and canoes. Lifeguards and floating devices are required.
With a New York State fishing license, visitors can cast a line and try their luck fishing in the lake. Those tempted by the cool waters can jump in for a swim if a lifeguard is on duty. Winter months bring opportunities for ice skating, ice hockey and sledding on the lake.
Many youth groups travel to the Taconic Retreat Center seeking a camplike retreat experience. The center provides a fire pit for fellowship, s’mores and glowing warmth.
Though the Taconic Retreat Center owns 220 acres, the site uses only 95 acres. Last year, the center won the Environmental Conservation Award from the town of Milan for creating and preserving a wildlife sanctuary on the other 125 acres.
Groups can keep an eye out for birds and other wildlife while walking on the site’s hiking trails. One trail wraps completely around Mirror Lake for a leisurely walk. Able-bodied hikers can climb the steep trail up to Mount Meredith’s peak. The resulting summit views prove worth the strain. On a clear day, hikers can see the surrounding Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. The spot is a popular place to sit back and contemplate the glory of God.
About Taconic Retreat Center
Location: Milan, New York
Size: The facility occupies 95 of 225 acres.
Capacity: The site can host 225 overnight guests or 300 day guests. The site’s three potential meeting venue buildings hold a wide range of guest capacities for intimate gatherings and larger events.