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Erick Erickson’s Island Vacay Is Really Secret Conservative Retreat

CNN Contributor to “John King USA” Erick Erickson wrote on Twitter this week that he was “loading up” his wife and children and taking them on vacation to South Carolina’s Kiawah Island. He said, “Makes me relax just thinking about it.”

Relaxing, perhaps. But not without conservative, Christian values to add to the fun. What Erickson left out is that Jan. 7 -9 is the date of this year’s Awakening, billed as one of the “finest open forums on conservative principles in the United States.” Awakening is an annual retreat that includes group discussions and sharing ideas. But it’s hush-hush. Attendees are expressly told not to discuss it. They stay at an oceanfront seaside mansion called The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort some 30 miles from Charleston, S.C. All rooms include custom made beds.

Kids are made to feel extra special. The teen program is led by Lucas Ramirez, Director of Youth Ministries at Wesley United Methodist Church in St. Simon’s Island, Ga. He specializes in “maximizing every teen’s sense of value and potential.” But not to worry — it’s not all about values. Part of the program includes outdoor games with a “different glasses” approach, meaning looking at the world in an alternate way. They warn, “Only come if you really want to have fun!” Younger children partake in fun-sounding activities such as cookie making and scavenger hunts.

The first Awakening retreat was held at The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia. The weekend moved to Kiawah Island in 2009. Those who have attended in the past include The Weekly Standard‘s Executive Editor Fred Barnes, UPI Editor-in-Chief John O’Sullivan, National Review Washington Editor Kate O’Beirne, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Roll Call‘s Morton Kondracke.

Issues discussed during past retreats include politics, policy as well as social and family issues. For instance, in 1999, Thomas keynoted “The Content of America’s Character.”

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