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Jonathan Bardzik Launches New Retreat Inspired by Lessons Learned from the Bear Community

Jonathan Bardzik, bear storyteller, cook, author, and host of Jonathan’s Kitchen: Seasons to Taste, is launching a new retreat inspired by lessons he learned from the bear community.

Jonathan will host this luxury retreat on the Outer Banks of North Carolina from February 15-18, 2024. Attendees will have the chance to eat Jonathan’s renowned food and spend time cooking with him in the kitchen. The tenets of joy, connection and freedom, the aforementioned lessons that Jonathan has learned from the bear community, will be at the heart of the weekend; along with strategies as to how to being these principles home to utilize in your day-to-day life.

“I believe we are here for two reasons: to care for each other and to experience joy,” said Jonathan. “I believe our best life is centered in joy, rooted in connection — our greatest source of joy, and elevated by freedom, both from the voices of doubt and shame in our heads which give us freedom to listen to our hearts.”

Jonathan Bardzik

When asked to elaborate on how the bear community taught him about joy, connection and freedom, Jonathan broke it down as follows:

Joy: “This is a community that experiences and shares so much joy which has often taken hard work to arrive at, being rejected not just in the coming out process but having to find — and create — their space in the broader gay community.”

Connection: “I don’t know another community where I can travel just about anywhere and find someone to have dinner with or to show me around. We create runs and events, we create safe and welcoming spaces, to build connection and community with each other. Our community defines chosen family in a beautiful and powerful way.”

Freedom: “For sure freedom is a journey. It is certainly one I am still on, but freeing ourselves from the voices we hear in our heads — the shame, self-doubt, the ‘shoulds’ — around who we should spend time with, what we should look like, how much we should make and what we should own is a central part of the bear experience. Freedom comes from quieting those voices and hearing the voices in our hearts — figuring out what matters to us, how we define accomplishment, beauty, worthiness and discovering what we want to choose and prioritize in order to make a good life for ourselves”

Sunrise on the beach in the Outer Banks, NC (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Participants can look forward to a weekend of greeting the sunrise on the beach, relaxing in the hot tub or by the fireplace, eating Jonathan’s signature farm-fresh, local cooking, preparing dinner together in the kitchen and guided conversations with Jonathan about what it means to bring joy, connection and freedom home — making changes, revising priorities or formulating a practice of gratitude for the abundance that already exists in your life.

Treat yourself or someone you love to a weekend they won’t soon forget. Prices are slashed right now to $2500 with the option to bring an additional person with you to share your room for $1000 extra. Act now! Space is extremely limited!

For more information and to register visit or contact Jonathan at

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