Voyageur Retreat

May 14-16, 2021

Numen Flumenque! Marquette’s motto, translated God and River, is at the center of this outdoor-focused retreat. Named for Father Marquette and his fellow explorers, the Voyageur retreat invites participants invites participants into an experience based on the Examen, one that invites participants to be aware of God’s presence, to cultivate gratitude, to look back on their just-completed school year, and to look ahead to summer. Rather than being packed with structured talks and prayer, on Voyageur the experience itself is the content of the retreat, and participants reflect on that experience in order to better identify God who is in all things.

We will meet Friday afternoon, drive three hours north to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and stay in the rustic cabins in at Wells State Park. On Saturday we will drive to Silver Cliff, Wisconsin and go whitewater rafting on the Peshtigo River, with additional time set aside for personal prayer and reflection, relaxed time for games and conversation, and classic campfire meals. We will depart on Sunday morning and celebrate Mass on the way home, arriving back at Marquette at 4:00 pm.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Why do an outdoors retreat?

From Moses to Jesus to the Desert Mothers and Fathers, Judeo-Christian faith has a long history of encountering God in the wilderness. Saint Ignatius had major spiritual encounters at a cave near Montserrat and along the banks of the Cardonet River. Father Marquette’s prayer sustained him on both of his expeditions with the voyageurs. The Voyageur retreat is an opportunity to experience God in the beauty, majesty, and challenge of the outdoors. It is a chance to encounter God while doing—paddling, cooking, hiking, talking with others—and then to reflect on that experience.

What are the cabins like? Are they heated?

We will be staying in two one-room cabins that each sleep 10 people in bunk beds. They are heated and have a gas range but no electricity or plumbing. There is a water pump outside, a big fire pit and grill, and an outhouse 100 feet away. The cabins are side-by-side and right on the Lake Michigan shoreline, making them an ideal place to retreat.

Whitewater rafting sounds intense! Is it doable even if I’ve never done any rafting before?

Absolutely. First, the rafting most people think about in Colorado or West Virginia is taking place in locations with more elevation and larger rivers. Whitewater rafting in Wisconsin is a lot of fun but much more manageable. Second, the rafting company we work with has different-sized boats depending on the water level so they can make sure that the experience is both safe and exciting in all conditions. In 40 years of operation, they have never had any serious injuries. Read more about the rafting portion of the retreat.

What kind of equipment do I need?

You won’t need much specialized gear. In addition to clothes and toiletries you would pack for any weekend away, each participant will also need a sleeping bag, rain jacket, sneakers or hiking boots, water bottles, and a flashlight or headlamp. Wetsuits and boots are provided by the rafting company, and you have the option to rent additional gear like paddling gloves or jackets.

Campus Ministry has some sleeping bags available to loan. If any of the other gear presents a problem, we can probably help you find or borrow what you need.


Open to:
All students, both undergraduate and graduate, of the Marquette Community.


Up north! We will be staying in rustic cabins in J.W. Wells State Park in Cedar River, Michigan. Read more about the Rustic Cabins.


Meet at Campus Ministry (AMU 236) at 4:00 pm on Friday.
Return to Marquette by 4:00 pm on Sunday.

There will be a pre-retreat meeting a week before the retreat in which packing, logistics, and other pre-retreat information will be discussed.


$50, covers transportation, food, lodging, park fees, and whitewater rafting. Financial assistance is readily available; see the Retreat FAQ page for more information.


Registration for the Voyageur Retreat is now closed. Registration will open on Tuesday, March 9.


For any questions or for further information, please contact:

Sara Knutson
Campus Ministry, AMU 236
(414) 288-3689