My Story by Melanie Ballard
The Moms’ Retreat started under the direction of the Thomas Jefferson Family Academy (TJFA) based in Utah County. I volunteered to secure a location for the retreat and was then asked if I would also be willing to help with organizing it. Although I probably responded politely, my initial reaction was “no way!” But I found myself unable to sleep at night thinking about how many women we could accommodate, who should speak, what kind of food we should serve, etc. Within a short time I was committed and invested to not only help, but to run the Moms’ Retreat.
The first Moms’ Retreat was scheduled in April 2006 at a beautiful mountain lodge just outside of Park City. I called a couple of days before to make sure everything was ready to go and found out that the dirt road to the lodge had been washed out by the spring run-off. I had just two days to find a new location. Through a miracle a generous donor accommodated every attendee in a luxurious hotel in Park City where he had ownership in the penthouse suite large enough for everyone to gather for meals and lectures. It was this experience that helped me know that God cared about the Moms’ Retreat.
We started the Moms’ Retreat based on TJEd Principles and talked about and lead discussions on Core Phase, Love of Learning, Scholar, etc. But each year it was more and more evident that the solutions to all questions–even homeschooling questions–can be found through the gospel of Jesus Christ. In 2011 I decided to cater the Moms’ Retreat for LDS, homeschooling mothers.
Each year the Moms’ Retreat has continued to grow and has filled up more quickly. In 2010 in order to ensure spots to those who really wanted to come, we instituted submitting a writing on that year’s Moms’ Retreat theme with registration. Still, the retreat would fill in a day or two and close to six months in advance.
As of 2012, we have held the Moms’ Retreat at Heber Valley Camp in Wasatch County and have been able to host over 100 women. In 2016, we chose to no longer require a submitted writing on the theme for the year in order to register. (We still highly recommend writing on the theme to help you prepare for the Retreat.)
With the world in turmoil, the spiritual battle we are waging, and the influx of new homeschooling mothers, as of 2017 we have chosen to cater to LDS homeschooling mothers as the focus for our retreat again.
Themes in past years have been:
2006 & ‘07 Mastering the Basics is the Key to Success
2008 The Power of Mothers; Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission
2009 Stand Fast Therefore in that Liberty Wherewith God Hath Made You Free
2010 Honoring our Husbands
From the very beginning the Moms’ Retreat has never made any money, charging minimal registration fees and running from the volunteer service and food preparation from many women. The Moms’ Retreat is part of a parent organization called The Gathering Home Foundation which is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that allows you to make tax deductible donations.
Since 2006, the Moms’ Retreat has changed the lives of nearly 600 families by influencing their dedicated and earnest mothers. I believe that our Heavenly Father cares about this event and watches over it, and I know the success of the Moms’ Retreat is evidence of that.
Melanie Ballard, Founder and Director