The first annual Articles Club weekend retreat

9 February 2023

If you’re not familiar with the history of Articles Club, you might be surprised to know how it started: with a gathering of a dozen or so strangers in my living room, united only by their love for reading interesting writing and discussing interesting ideas (and the fact that they read either my or Stephanie’s blog, ha). Over the last seven years, most of those strangers have moved on, replaced over time by a sturdier and sturdier group of acquaintances, then friends, then members of a group text (don’t laugh – the advent of the group text was a big moment in the friendship evolution!). We’ve welcomed babies, we’ve weathered a pandemic, and now – we’ve stayed in house together for the weekend.

It was, as you might imagine, a delight. I’d love to share a few details, if you’d like to see!

Thank you to many of the AC gals for sharing these photos! And if you’re wondering why Club is sometimes spelled Clurb, it is not a typo – just a bit of an inside joke :)

Planning a weekend retreat:

Articles Club currently has 12 members – that’s a lot of ladies (and husbands and kids and pets back home) to organize! So we started early. After casually discussing the idea of a weekend retreat for a few months, we polled the group in August to gauge availability of January and February weekends. (And I mean literally polled – we used Doodle.) We felt a winter getaway would be cheaper, easier to coordinate, and would give us something to look forward to after the holidays.

Once we had a weekend that worked with everyone’s schedule, we split up into committees. The committees were thus: Logistics, Activities, Food, Beverage, and Surprises & Swag.

Logistics researched rentals, booked the house and communicated with the owner, collected and distributed money, assigned rooms, spearheaded coordinating travel to the beach, and made sure we had the necessary household supplies, among other things.

Activities (this was my committee!) decided on the flow of the weekend and filled in the details. We also created a printed itinerary that we mailed to everyone’s home in the week leading up to the retreat – a very extra detail that got everyone excited.

Food decided how we would handle meals and created a SignUp Genius form to delegate responsibilities. (We teamed up in twos and threes, and each team was responsible for buying the groceries for and making one meal.) They also asked us each to bring a favorite snack for impromptu munching throughout the weekend.

Beverage prepared a cocktail and mocktail option for each dinner, and made sure we had other beverage options aplenty (coffee, tea, juice, etc.).

Surprises & Swag was our committee of Enneagram 7’s (and one 5 to keep them grounded, ha!) and boy did they go to town. They met in person MULTIPLE times in the months leading up to the retreat and dreamed up all sorts of goodies – and a surprise activity or two, as well.

Where we stayed:

We stayed in a beautiful rental home in Oak Island directly on the beach. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from the Triangle where we all live, and very affordable in the offseason – we each paid about $135 for our two nights. We arrived on Friday and departed on Sunday.

Our house had two kings, three queens, a bunk room, a double room, and a sofa bed. The Logistics Committee asked us each to send them any sleeping requests in advance (i.e. I don’t mind sharing a room, I’d rather have my own bed, I sleep with white noise, I wake up really early), and then assigned us to a room accordingly. I thought this was very thoughtful, and it worked out perfectly!

What we did at our girls’ weekend retreat:

Let’s get into it!


Our house was available at 4pm, but some gals arrived as early as noon to have lunch in Oak Island, walk the beach, and read on the deck as everyone trickled in over the next few hours. We had a very informal Trader Joe’s + Aldi’s cheese tasting as we arrived, unpacked, got settled, and admired the sunset.

We also listened to the playlist we’d compiled in advance – we all had contributed to a VERY eclectic mix that included everything from Third Eye Blind to Shania, Tracy Chapman, ABBA, Paul Simon, Lizzo, the Avett Brothers, and much, much more. It was a musical journey.

Once we were all gathered, the Surprises & Swag Committee presented their goods and wow did they go above and beyond. Following a classic camp theme, we each received a bandana embroidered with our name, a baseball hat with a custom patch, a customized sweatshirt, a custom sticker, and probably a few other items I’m forgetting. What a treat!!

Dinner was lasagna (prepared in advance and thrown in the oven upon arrival), garlic bread, and a yummy salad. As we wrapped up our meal, Stephanie and I handed out trivia sheets. We had asked everyone to send us three fun facts for a trivia game, and they did not disappoint. Facts included everything from “I totaled a driver’s ed car” to “I have a tooth in my neck” and “I’ve cashed a two-million-dollar check at the bank.” We contain multitudes, apparently :)

Finally, we ended the night with warm brownie sundaes and 7×7 PowerPoint presentations. Apparently popular on TikTok, the idea is that you use 7 minutes and 7 slides to present on a niche topic. Presentations included hosting tips, Articles Club superlatives, and movies that are better than the book.


Wakeup times varied, as did morning activities – some gals went for a walk on the beach, some ran, some read. We all had a delicious meal of breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls, and fruit.

The rest of the day was a restful, delightful mix of crafting (valentines, friendship bracelets, and bedazzled sunglasses), chatting, walking on the beach, playing Dutch Blitz, reading, and napping. When lunch got slightly derailed due to a canceled late arrival (we love you, Pressley!!), we snacked on cornbread, hot pretzels, fruit, salad, and charcuterie. Our lighter lunch was just fine, because dinner was a taco fiesta, complete with margaritas.

After dinner, we were released to create togas out of the bedsheets we had been instructed to bring. With the help of a hilarious YouTube video, we did just that, and in no time were dressed and ready for – you guessed it – a murder mystery, masterminded by the S&S Committee. The fun didn’t stop there: we ended the night with warm chocolate chip cookies and a few rounds of Fish Bowl/Celebrity.


Breakfast on Sunday was a delicious eggs benedict casserole, leftover cinnamon rolls, and fruit. After lovely weather for most of the weekend, we cleaned up and packed out in the rain. Though it makes loading the car a bit more difficult, rain always seems like a fitting end to a beach trip, don’t you think?

Couldn’t have done it (and wouldn’t have wanted to do it) without my co-founder :)

How we handled expenses:

We polled the group anonymously early in the process to gauge whether people felt comfortable spending $25, $35, or $50 in addition to the cost of the house, which helped to create a budget for the committees that needed it. The Logistics Committee used the app Splitwise to handle payments – it allowed anyone who needed to to request payments from each member (payments could easily be completed in the app or by Venmo). Many individuals happily chipped in extra for some of their committee’s details, and everyone was responsible for groceries for a meal.

I know friend weekends are old hat for some of you, but this was the first one I’ve been a part of as a grown-up! From beginning to end, planning to departure, it was a delight. I hope this recap might help you plan a future weekend of your own, and if you have any questions, I’d be happy to help!

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February 9, 2023 10:26 am

Speaking it into existence now that Foster will NOT spike a fever the morning of the second annual Camp Clurb! I’m so glad y’all had the best time ????

February 10, 2023 4:38 pm
Reply to  Pressley

Just had to comment on this because I love that you have a Foster! Pregnant with a Foster and I’ve never heard of anyone else with a kiddo with this name :)

February 10, 2023 9:44 am

Isn’t Splitwise awesome?! I’m a “girls trip” veteran and my crew has only recently started using it and it’s the best.

February 10, 2023 4:39 pm

What a fun trip! I absolutely love the idea of an anonymous survey to gauge spending comfort.

February 10, 2023 10:11 pm

I love everything about this! And the transparent sharing about how the cost worked out was SO helpful to read. It encouraged me that this actually could be realistic with a group of friends on all different budgets!

February 11, 2023 7:26 pm

Oh, what fun! Sounds like a truly lovely time together! It makes me so excited for the start of my own Articles club! I finally have a crew together and I‘m planning the first meeting for March :) Finally!!! Your posts have been so encouraging!

February 24, 2023 3:18 pm

This sounds like the most fun retreat ever!! Tell us the location next time around so readers can crash it :) :)

April 7, 2023 3:46 pm

What fun! I love this for you, Em! Girls trips are some of my best.
I love all the finer details of your trip – and your amazing S&S team really went to town. So much fun! x