Fishtrap’s Outpost workshop promotes writing in and about the natural environment of Wallowa County and northeastern Oregon. It was created to inspire writers by placing them out in nature, surrounded by the sound of crickets, the sight of azure lupine, and the feel of a warm wind rolling across the prairie. Being outdoors is a constant reminder of the tangible reality of the world, which is so easy to miss as we sit inside our self-created boundaries. Outpost’s intimate gathering of writers and remote location work together to paint a complex, beautiful landscape on the page; true writing of place.
Ann Werner, a former wilderness ranger in the Wallowa country underwrites the Outpost workshop, in the hope of encouraging writing about the wild landscapes she dearly loves.
For the 2013 program we are excited to welcome Scott Russell Sanders as our instructor. Sanders is the author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including A Private History of Awe and A Conservationist Manifesto. The best of his essays from the past thirty years, plus nine new essays, are collected in Earth Works, published in 2012 by Indiana University Press. Among his honors are the Lannan Literary Award, the John Burroughs Essay Award, the Mark Twain Award, the Cecil Woods Award for Nonfiction, the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2012 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at Indiana University, where he taught from 1971 to 2009. He and his wife, Ruth, a biochemist, have reared two children in their hometown of Bloomington, in the hardwood hill country of Indiana’s White River Valley.
The program will take place on the Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, a rolling grassland that stretches from the Wallowa Mountains to Hells Canyon and the Snake River. In the midst of the prairie, the Nature Conservancy has a small “Summer Camp” facility, consisting of three small ranch houses with kitchens and meeting spaces downstairs and sparse bunkrooms upstairs. There is room for about 8 people to sleep inside, although most participants choose to sleep out in tents under the remarkable stars.
The dates for Outpost 2013 are July 7-12, with the option of also signing up for the weekend at Summer Fishtrap, which runs July 12-14 and includes a keynote by Cheryl Strayed, panel discussions and the always-entertaining “Fishtrap Live” show on Saturday night.
Registration for Outpost will open on February 26th online. The Outpost workshop fee is $790 (Sunday-Friday, includes meals, tent/bunkhouse lodging, all meals and transportation to site from Enterprise.) The weekend program, an optional add-on, cost $215 (Friday-Sunday, includes meals). Registration, and more details available on our registration page.
The intent of Outpost is to offer an inspirational setting for people to connect with the natural environment of northeastern Oregon and to write about their experience, as well as creating an opportunity for personal growth and learning far from civilizations distractions. Outpost is a week-long writing workshop during Summer Fishtrap, facilitated by an accomplished writer and teacher, that provides an intensely reflective atmosphere for writers. Participants and faculty retreat to a scenic, remote location for five days of instruction, writing, solitude, day trips, nature study, camping, and sharing. The group returns to Wallowa Lake Camp and Retreat Center and joins the main Summer Fishtrap Gathering for their final day of workshop and the full array of weekend events.
At the Gathering Outpost participants can enjoy panel discussions, a keynote address and breakout-sessions. Outpost is led by writing faculty who are inspired by, and have published work about the relationship between civilization and wildness. Past faculty include Ellen Waterston, Robert Michael Pyle, Charles Goodrich and Kim Stafford. An experienced naturalist leads some interpretive walks.
Outpost began at an historic Forest Service facility called Billy Meadows Guard Station, about 40 miles north of Enterprise. In 2012, the program was moved to the Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Preserve. The Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Summer Camp boasts three bunk houses and a beautiful old barn, tucked away at the head of Camp Creek between grassy buttes pocked with badger and ground squirrel burrows. Hiking up and around the camp offers views of the Seven Devils mountain range in Idaho, as well as the Wallowa mountains and a wide expanse of the Zumwalt Prairie itself. Far from city lights, the open prairie skies offer a spectacular view of the stars. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, please click here.
Participants are strongly encouraged to sleep outside, in tents, under the stars. However, the buildings include indoor bunk beds if you do not feel comfortable sleeping outside, or require a real bed. Meals are served camp style, outside, and are prepared by local cooks experienced in this type of cooking. Some meals are cooked in cast iron dutch ovens. Special dietary needs can usually be accommodated, just let us know beforehand, and you are free to bring some of your own food with the understanding that there is limited room in the refrigerator. The general daily routine includes structured times for participants to respond to writing prompts in the morning; time to discuss their writing with the faculty; opportunities for quiet, solitude, and solo writing in the afternoon; and group sharing and discussions of participants’ writing in the evening. A few mornings, educational walks and lectures about the area are offered. Participants are requested to use paper and pen for their writing at Outpost and to leave electronics behind since there is limited electricity. At the Zumwalt Summer Camp there are lights and limited running water for showers and bathrooms. On Friday, the group packs up camp and moves to Wallowa Lake to join the main Summer Fishtrap Gathering for a weekend of speakers, panels and fun! Participants can either camp there, or arrange a hotel room or cabin ahead of time. Bunkhouses may be available at the camp if you contact Fishtrap. Past Outposters have seen elk, deer, cougars, owls, bluebirds and many other creatures, and have gone to sleep serenaded by coyotes. Wildflowers are bright and abundant, and the night skies overflow with stars. The weather can be capricious, anything from high summer heat to cold rain. Past years have been in the nineties out on the Zumwalt Prairie and there is limited shade and no air conditioning, so please come prepared and check the weather forecast!
Past Outpost Faculty include: