“The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family.”


Your Own Private Retreat

Our private family retreats are one of the most profound things you can do to bring your family together in a loving, meaningful way. The result of the retreat is the creation of a family legacy plan and brand that will serve as the foundation of excellence for current and future generations.

We find A Family of Excellence Retreat works best when it is a true vacation (i.e. away from home and at a special spot that is devoid of work distractions and daily minutia). We suggest setting aside 4 days (although this can vary depending on complexity). Each day of the retreat is structured so that there is plenty of space for thinking, personal time, family bonding and other activities. The reason we schedule it this way is because creating a family legacy requires high levels of communication and discussion of topics that go deep and require contemplation. The average attention span is short and we want to avoid burnout and be sure that everyone in the family is having fun. This not only makes for a more enjoyable vacation, it also produces superior results.

Sample Itinerary

The typical family retreat looks like this (although we tailor it to you):

Creating a Trusting Environment:

We discuss how to create family communication that is open, honest and loving. Everyone contributes to define ground rules for creating an environment of trust so that the retreat can be most effective and everyone can feel open to sharing their feelings.

“Do You Know Scale” Introduction and Answering of Crucial Questions:

The “Do You Know Scale” was created by Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush of Emory University. It is a series of 20 questions about family background, origin, etc. asked of 48 families in a study conducted in 2001. The results showed that the more children knew about their family history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. We not only discuss questions on the “Do You Know Scale,” but also other crucial questions to becoming familiar with your family background. Answering the questions is not necessarily the objective. It’s more about creating a strong family narrative.

An Introduction to Storytelling:

Oral storytelling has been the foundation of passing on legacy since the beginning. It is how cultures maintained their traditions and taught new generations wisdom from the past. You can tell your children to have integrity or to be kind and loving, but these abstract concepts have very little impact unless they are accompanied by a story or an experience. Stories are one of the most profound ways to connect with the emotions and teach lessons that will be remembered for a lifetime. Research has shown that family stories of struggle and triumph give children a belief in their personal resilience. From family stories, they borrow personal strength. This part of the retreat explains how stories work and shares some interesting, fun, short stories that will make a huge impact on your thinking and can be used as a template for sharing your own wisdom.

Family Heritage:

During this part of the retreat, one of our master story tellers conveys the story of your lineage (this is researched beforehand by our family historians and written in a book for you to keep). We teach you about the places your ancestors come from, their traditions, the origin of your family name and coat of arms associated with that name (if you historically have one), and any significant stories or news events about your ancestors. We also present your family tree (researched by our family historians).

We then give each member of the family an opportunity to share favorite memories about relatives, family traditions, etc.

*Note: We have a film crew and photographers who will capture special moments and family stories.

Sharing Your Master Stories:

A master story is an experience that had a major impact on your way of thinking. We help you identify your master stories and share them with each other. Each member of the family shares a story about when they felt accomplished and successful, as well as a story about when they made a huge mistake or had problems and how they overcame adversity. We also like you to focus on a story in which you needed the help of someone else (either emotionally or financially) to get out of a mess and how important a loving support system is. This helps to solidify a family’s role to support each other.

** We will have a film crew and photographer there during the session to record your stories for posterity.

What We Love About Each Other:

Each person expresses what they love and admire about each member of the family. Before we begin, we give you a template for expressing love and gratitude. Although it may seem straight forward, there are a variety of ways to enhance the way you praise and connect with each other. Stories also play a big part in this. When you tell your loved ones they are “great” or “smart” or “funny,” that’s definitely a step in the right direction. But it has about ten times the impact when you attach it to a specific story or example or act that they did.

Introduction to Family Values:

Here we discuss several families and how they have defined their values. We also look at a value chart and do several activities that will begin a discussion about the importance of values and what, specifically, your family believes to be the most important guiding principles to keep everyone on track.

Introduction to Family Mission:

We give you several examples of different kinds of family mission statements, their anatomy, and their impact. This is to get you thinking about what will resonate most with your family. We ask crucial questions all family missions should take into account, such as: What is fun for us? What are our strengths? What makes us better people? What helps us to become better at supporting each other? How do we want to impact the community?

Journaling and Free Time:

Day 2 is not about creating your final values or a mission statement. It is about giving you examples, questions to answer in your journals and starting a discussion. It is much better to give family members space to let ideas incubate and percolate and allow time for bounding and discussion. This leads to a deeper, more thought out, more effective legacy.

Today is a big day. It is the day we define the foundational components of your family legacy.

Creating of Your Family Mission, Vision and Mantra:

We write out your family mission and vision and create a mantra that will guide your family. We also create a family vision board. This process is tackled from several different angles to inspire creativity and tap into different styles of learning. We also take into account the ages of family members involved. Young children are treated differently than teenagers and adult children have different roles as well.

Creating Your Family Coat of Arms:

We brainstorm ideas about a unique coat of arms or logo that will represent your family. The final design will come a week or two later when our professional designers turn the family vision into art.

Creating an Online Family Brain Trust:

This part of the retreat is about defining and documenting systems to pass on. We list traditions to be passed down from generation to generation, systems for maintaining a healthy body, systems for managing money, business systems, and other knowledge that should be passed on. We ask kids what they’d like to learn and parents what they’d like their children to know. We also teach you how to create a living, breathing data feed that allows you to pass on new information throughout the years. This is an introduction to how to systematize and use the technology we provide to create a rich database of family knowledge. We don’t actually document all of the systems at the retreat. That will be done over time as the family grows and contributes to the growth of each other.

Creating Family Goals:

We give you a template to implement a family theme for the year and show you how to work toward a concrete goal you define together. How you want to implement your family goals depends on how your family interacts, ages of various members and interest. This is about having fun and growing and learning in a laid back environment. We give you examples of what has worked for other families and work with you to create something that encapsulates your unique family vision.

Love Languages and Learning Styles:

Here we discuss different communication styles and identify how each person perceives love. This will help you identify the best ways to reach each other and have the most effective family meetings and how to convey information in a way that is fun and will be absorbed.

How to Implement a Family Meeting:

In his book, The Secrets of Happy Families, Bruce Feiler writes about how a simple 20-minute weekly family meeting transformed his relationship with his teenage daughters. For the first couple meetings, his daughters were emotionally closed off and non-communicative. Then, they began to open up in a very big way. We teach you how to create family meetings that stimulate conversation, promote love and create a family that is more cohesive. If done right, your family meetings can be a fun, enjoyable time of the week that everyone looks forward to. This is also a time to address the day-to-day operations of the family and establish some routines.

Creating Your Family Constitution:

It may seem overly formal to some, but a family constitution can help solve major problems down the road by outlining the specific principles and precedents your family agrees to follow. While the vision and mission of your family is more of an overview, your family constitution lists specific rules that will be followed and respected. This isn’t about creating a “police state” family. It’s about setting clear expectations and establishing accountability and responsibility—crucial skills your children need to function at the highest level as adults. When everyone knows what is expected of them and that other members of the family care about their well-being and will hold them accountable for making poor choices (also praise them for making good choices!), they have incentive to avoid foolish actions and reach higher levels of self awareness.


As a result of the retreat, we will deliver to you:

  • Comprehensive Family Legacy Plan.
    • Vision
    • Mission
    • Mantra
    • Values
    • Constitution
    • Coat of arms, logo or graphical elements
    • Traditions
    • Important systems to pass on
    • Goals
    • Family meeting structure and how to conduct them
    • Instructions for implementation
  • 200-250 page Family Legacy Book designed by our team of award-winning artists, writers and editors.
    • Beautiful coffee table book with large photos and engaging writing.
    • The book will start out explaining the family’s heritage and background.
    • It will contain key stories about ancestors that helped build the family name or legacy.
    • Information about the historic family name and seal.
    • The current family seal or brand (decided upon during the retreat).
    • Memorable stories from family members.
    • Values held dearly.
    • The family mission and vision.
  • Legacy Video highlighting special family stories and background.
    • Our team will edit and create a family documentary with stories and touching events from the retreat.
  • Photos from the retreat.
    • Beautiful high-resolution photos delivered electronically and many will be included in the family legacy book.
    • Optional: We can have photos printed on archival paper for framing. Or even have a favorite photo painted by an artist.
  • Family Website.
    • This is a private website (with a login) where you can post family photos, have discussions, write, etc.
  • Wiki Family Brain Trust.
    • This is a way to keep track of wisdom you want to pass on to the next generation. Everyone in the family can contribute and create different topics. (It’s like having your own family wikipedia.) This information is also archived on our server and compiled in other formats for the purpose of passing it on down the road. We will create pdf documentation from it as well as printed documentation and you can select who this information goes to.
  • Wooden or Marble Plaque of Your Family’s Mantra and Coat of arms or Logo.
    • Physical representation of what your family name represents

Additional Thoughts

Who Should Attend:

Your family legacy is a joint effort. Everyone in the family must be heard and contribute so that everyone is on board and supportive of the vision and each other. What seems to work best for these retreats is families with older children. For example, teenagers or young adults. Or if your children are married and beginning to start their families, this can be a powerful time to learn about family heritage, share stories and create a family vision that your married children will be able to pass on to their children. If you would like to create a family legacy that focuses on your immediate family and your children are young (under 10), we recommend starting with the Couples Family Legacy Workshop. Every family is different. You can discuss who should attend or what event is best for you with our legacy consultants if you have questions.

Do You Have Reservations About Members of Your Family (Especially Teenagers) Being Excited?

It’s not unheard of to have push back from the family. Usually what happens is someone in the family—like a parent or grandparent—gets all excited about creating a family legacy and the rest of the family goes along out of obligation. It’s hard to get enthusiastic buy-in from everyone. But, we can tell you that the amount of love, communication and family bonding that results from this process is exceptional. Even teenagers who show up kicking and screaming, become advocates for the family.*

*Usually… and if it doesn’t happen at the actual retreat, you are given tools to help communicate with them over a period of a few weeks or months.

Suggested Location Tips:

Our concierge works with you to arrange a location that would be most comfortable for your family. We also tailor the retreat to your tastes and preferences. When selecting a location, you will want to consider the following:

  • A location that is easy for family members to travel to.
  • Somewhere comfortable and relaxing that makes it easy to lounge and associate with family members (and also get some alone time when you need it) – such as a home or villa with a large great room or patio.
  • Somewhere that has significance to the family, as long as it’s relatively convenient – such as a summer home you traditionally go to, a vacation spot your family has loved in the past, or the town you grew up, etc.
  • Somewhere that has outdoor activities the family enjoys – our concierge arranges activities for family free time. Some popular family activities include horseback riding, ATVing, boating, skiing, snow mobiling, golfing, cooking classes, and so on.

To schedule a Legacy Family Retreat, contact us at 801.386.5861 or email [email protected].


To arrange an appointment with one of our legacy planning experts, call 801.386.5861 or enter your information below.