Workshops & Retreats


Rabkin Workshops Photo

Give yourself an enriching adventure!  Write and learn, relax and explore—inspired by beautiful landscapes and good company. I offer field workshops and retreats based in California and Oregon, ranging from a few hours to several days in length.

See a quick list of upcoming offerings in the overview below; scroll down for details. I recommend early registration, as some classes fill fast.

Click the sponsoring organizations’ links and/or contact them directly for information about fees, logistics and registration. For details about program content or for help deciding if a class is right for you, feel free to contact me.

HCWR-2016-2A note on accessibility: Physical layout of facilities varies from one venue to another. The Pt. Reyes Lifeboat Station and SF State field campus, for example, have substantial staircases; others present fewer vertical challenges. If you have mobility issues, please communicate with the sponsoring organizations and with me to get a clear picture of whether the venue in question will be accessible and comfortable given your physical needs. We want to avoid unpleasant surprises, and we also want to make it possible for you to participate fully in your chosen program if at all possible.

Overview by Date

February 15-17, 2019: with Christian McEwen— Bringing Back the Light: a restorative retreat for writers, artists, and other creative & contemplative souls (The Mesa Refuge, Point Reyes Station, CA)

May 3-5, 2019Nature Journaling on the Playa  (PLAYA creative residency retreat, Summer Lake, south-central Oregon)

August 2019 (exact dates TBA)High Country Writing Retreat (San Francisco State University Sierra Nevada Field Campus, North Yuba River, Sierra County, CA)


February 15-17, 2019

Bringing Back the Light: a restorative retreat for writers, artists, and other creative & contemplative souls

co-taught with Christian McEwen

To request registration info, email

Join us for a transformative weekend at The Mesa Refuge, supporting writers, artists, and other contemplatives who work to heal the world in these dark times. Mesa alumnae Christian and Sarah will offer writing prompts to inspire personal exploration of this theme; they’ll share stories, poems and other resources to enrich discussion. The Mesa Refuge’s beautiful rooms and verdant grounds will shelter and enliven our time together. This retreat is especially suitable for writers and artists, at any level of expertise—but everyone is welcome.


We will begin with an introductory session, including a light meal, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday evening; we’ll reconvene from 10:00 to 4:00 on Saturday and from 10:00 to 3:00 on Sunday.

The $325 fee includes supper on Friday evening; participants bring lunches on Saturday and Sunday. Registration, limited to 12 participants, is on a first-come, first-served basis, with full payment by check required to hold your place at the time of registration. For cancellations requested no later than two weeks in advance, the fee is refundable, minus a $25 administrative charge.

Suggestions about local lodging options are available for participants traveling from beyond commuting range.

For more information and/or to register, please contact Sarah Rabkin via email ( or at 831-475-7548.

Comments about Christian & Sarah’s previous retreats:

I loved the place, the space, the group interactions, the time spent writing in balance with time spent sharing. Most of all I loved the spirit, wisdom and generosity of Christian and Sarah.

The two of you work together beautifully, and I appreciate your warmth, the sense of welcome & reciprocity, and all the resources you so thoughtfully shared.


Christian McEwen
is a Mesa Refuge alum, a British writer and workshop leader, currently based in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. She has edited four anthologies, including Jo’s Girls: Tomboy Tales of High Adventure, and has written for the Nation and The Village Voice. Her book World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down is fundamental to the theme of our retreat.



Sarah Rabkin is the author and illustrator of What I Learned at Bug Camp: Essays on Finding a Home in the World. A longtime teacher of composition and environmental and science writing at UC Santa Cruz, she now leads workshops and retreats in alluring wild places. Sarah grew up in Berkeley and currently lives near the shore of Monterey Bay with her husband, poet Charles Atkinson.




May 3-5, 2019

Nature Journaling on the Playa –   PLAYA creative residency retreat, Summer Lake, south-central Oregon

Come spend a weekend around the playa, looking into both the natural world and your own inner nature. You’ll stay in comfortable lodging and be treated to delicious meals on Playa’s beautiful campus. Sarah and Chuck will share writing and sketching techniques to help you

heighten and indulge your curiosity and record your experiences with flair. Whether you are a seasoned journal-keeper or just starting out, you will learn new ways of layering words and images to generate not only vibrant illuminated pages, but a spirited connection with the world around you.

Former Playa residents Charles Atkinson and Sarah Rabkin both taught writing at UC Santa Cruz for many years. Sarah is the author and illustrator of What I Learned at Bug Camp: Essays on Finding a Home in the World; she leads writing retreats and illustrated-journal workshops in a variety of alluring venues in California and Oregon. Chuck has published seven poetry collections, including several prize-winners—mostly recently This Deep In (Hummingbird Poetry Press) and Skeleton, Skin and Joy (Finishing Line Press).

(Chuck & Sarah Photo credit Beth Ann Mathews)



August (exact dates TBA), 2019

High Country Writing Retreat

San Francisco State University Sierra Nevada Field Campus, North Yuba River, CA

HighCountryWritingThis is a great opportunity for both new and experienced writers to take inspiration from the spiced air and rushing waters of the northern Sierra. Group sessions provide a stimulating setting for writing and sharing work without judgment, while unstructured periods allow plenty of time for individual writing, recreation, and optional one-on-one conferences. Prompts and exercises are conducive to poetry and/or prose. Bring a writing project in progress, an empty notebook ready to be filled, or both. For more information and to register, go to the SFSU Sierra Field Campus website