What is Beyond the Tent?

GatherDC’s Beyond the Tent Retreat is a creative and interactive weekend that brings together Jewish 20s and 30s from across the DMV at a retreat center right outside of Washington, DC. Over the course of three days, you’ll explore what it means for you to be Jewish today, unpack 21st century American Judaism, and dive into authentic models for expressing that identity. You’ll build deep relationships with other Jews from the DMV, and of course, get to have fun and relax.

What will you be doing?

Over the course of this weekend, you will:

  • Build relationships with peers over deep, meaningful conversations in a relaxing, outdoor environment
  • Explore relevant models for what your Jewish life could look like
  • Gain a deeper understanding of how you relate (or don’t) to your Jewish identity as a young adult

Beyond the Tent is a unique experience where you’ll unpack, explore, and challenge your Judaism in a series of thought-provoking discussions and activities. The experience includes text study and personal reflection in both large and curated small groups with experienced peer facilitators. We’ll also celebrate Shabbat together with ritual and delicious meals, and you’ll have time to relax in a beautiful retreat center environment while getting to know new people. 

Note: Beyond the Tent is not exactly like summer camp nor a Shabbaton (Shabbat experience) with prayer services; it’s somewhere in between! Please email us if you have any questions about this. 

Who is Beyond the Tent for?

BTT is for Jewish 20s and 30s across the DMV region who are open to exploring new and alternative paths of Jewish expression with their peers. This experience is non-denominational with no background experience or knowledge required. 

Ideal participants are those who feel like they have tried to connect to Jewish life in the DMV, but it just isn’t working. Ideal participants are proud to be Jewish, but aren’t sure how to make that an active part of their adult life.

This retreat is geared towards those who love learning from others, engaging in introspective questions, and who are in a seeking phase in your Jewish life, whatever that means to you. This doesn’t mean you need to be well-versed in Jewish texts or ideas nor be super extroverted, as long as you’re a curious person who enjoys talking with others, we’ll be happy (as will you!). Whether you’re hook, line, and sinker with your Judaism or you’re not entirely bought in, we’ll meet you where you are on your Jewish journey. 

When is it?

Beyond the Tent Summer 2024 will take place from Friday, July 19th to Sunday, July 21st.

Where is it?

Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reisterstown, MD.

How much is it?

  • Early bird pricing, available until June 9th, is $99
  • Regular pricing, available until June 18th, is $150

This cost is all-inclusive of transportation, meals, lodging, and facilitated workshops throughout the weekend. Financial assistance is available upon request – email us for more information.

Beyond the Tent is a highly subsidized experience. We are grateful to our supporters for making this retreat possible!

What's the rooming situation like?

You’ll stay in a hotel-style room with a roommate. Bathrooms are en suite. Upon acceptance, you will be asked to share more about your rooming needs.

What is the food situation like?

The Pearlstone Retreat Center serves delicious farm-to-table meals that are certified kosher (some meals will include meat; all have vegetarian options). All meals are buffet style to accommodate a variety of needs and preferences (we’ll be asking you more about those). There is a self-service beverage bar with continuous coffee, tea, water, and snacks included throughout.

Can I drive on my own and just stay for part of the retreat?

GatherDC will be providing the option of group transportation from DC to the retreat center — but you can certainly drive on your own! Once you register, we’ll ask for more information on your plans. However, we request that you stay for the entirety of the retreat – arriving and departing at the same time as the rest of the participants. In order to make this experience fully immersive, we ask that all participants be present, both physically and mentally, throughout the entire weekend.

Can I talk to someone about this before signing up?

Of course! Email GatherDC’s Engagement Director, Noa Nir to find out if this is right for you.

Or, if you’d like to speak with a past Beyond the Tent Retreat participant, email info@gatherdc.org and we’ll connect you with someone who can speak about their experience!

Okay, I'm in. How do I apply?

Applications are open now!

We’ll be closing applications on Friday, May 31st, so let us know you’d like to be a part of this incredible weekend-long experience soon!

COVID Safety Measures

Beyond the Tent is an in-person, immersive retreat. GatherDC requires all participants to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 and will require confirmation of vaccination from all participants. All participants will need to rapid test for COVID-19 prior to boarding the shuttle or driving to the retreat center, and tests must be submitted to GatherDC staff prior to arrival. Taking these precautions will allow members to experience the retreat to the fullest without social distancing or wearing a mask. Learn more about GatherDC’s COVID policies here.

What do past participants say?

This weekend was everything to me. The people were all incredible. The content was mind blowing to me. I have so many more questions than I went in with, which I think was the point. I feel wonderfully confused about my Jewish identity and am doing my best to let that feeling sit. Now, I’m questioning everything, but not at all questioning that I want to be a Jew.

— Robin

I had such a positive and memorable experience on Beyond the Tent – meeting new friends and mentors, engaging with deep and nuanced ideas, and learning new Jewish texts (and moving poetry!).

— Mia

I entered the weekend with the expectations of meeting some interesting people while exploring theirs opinions and my own opinions about how we feel about Judaism in our current stage of life. My expectations were met and exceeded, and I have developed close relationships with people and a better understanding of Judaism and what it means to me.

— Eric

Beyond the Tent gave me the opportunity to re-think my Judaism in a positive and enlightening manner. I met some incredible people, shared some great experiences and really felt like I came away as a different person.

— Matt

I can’t say enough good things about Beyond the Tent. I literally went in knowing no one which was very anxiety inducing for me. I wound up finding this entire new group of people! I felt welcomed from the beginning, and that anxiety was gone very quickly. I would encourage anyone considering going to try their best to overcome their nerves, because it really is such a welcoming and accessible place.

— Trey



I really didn’t know what to expect from the retreat. But soon after I arrived, I was hooked on trying to unpack my own experiences and understanding of my American Jewish identity. I’d never taken the time to unpack what Jewish culture, tradition, and morality meant to me. It was really great to have the opportunity to do so in an environment where I was pushed to think about those ideas.

Sam H