The Retreat

Rotary House Retreat is a six-day intensive outpatient retreat that provides First Responders the opportunity to learn and practice new coping skills while improving personal and professional relationships.  RHR uses prevention and early-intervention models to address issues such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, sleep disturbances, and other stress- and trauma-related symptoms.  The goal of Rotary House Retreat is to enable First Responders to restore and resume his/her work in a highly productive manner and avoid negative outcomes such as family dissolution, chemical dependence, or suicide.

At RHR, the importance and benefits of Guests’ developing peer support, seeking mental health care, and involving chaplain/faith services to expand their personal trust and support systems is emphasized and practiced.  The retreat is supported by specially trained peers and clinical professionals focusing on stress- and trauma-related symptoms plus general mental health education and healing activities for First Responders.  Multiple techniques are employed at RHR to encourage stress relief by offering Guests new outlets such as horseback riding, swimming, fishing, hiking, yoga, and creative arts.   A daily theme encompasses the focus of each day and includes multiple skills, tools, and activities.

At the end of the week, Guests of Rotary House Retreat have learned and practiced new life skills, gained friends and confidants who understand the issues (personal and professional) related to being a First Responder, and have established trusted lifelines for the rest of their career and beyond. 

Mission Statement

To assist First Responders with stress-related symptoms due to critical incidents.

Vision Statement

To be recognized as an effective community service project dedicated to the care and healing of First Responders.


The goals of Rotary House Retreat are to coach a Guest to establish positive skills and tools so he/she can resume his/her work and social relationships in a progressive manner while avoiding harmful coping mechanisms such as chemical dependence, self-harming behaviours, and avoidance.  Ultimately, RHR is dedicated to preventing suicides of First Responders by establishing hope, resiliency, and a support network for Guests.


The Rotary House Retreat program was researched, initiated, and sponsored by Rotary Clubs in Bakersfield with funding from Rotary International District 5240 (Kern, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura Counties).  Mr. John Pryor and Ms. Wendy Wayne, Rotarians from different Bakersfield clubs, are the Rotary Club Chairpersons for this project.


The term “First Responder” refers to multiple emergency response professionals that commonly encounter critical incidents and crisis situations. The list includes, but is not limited to:  law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, dispatchers, and all front-line, safety personnel for whom the repercussions of the career are impeding their professional work, intimate relationships, and personal well-being.


Rotary House Retreat is hosted at a peaceful and secluded working ranch located in Kern County, California, USA.