Young Gamechangers suggest retreat in Hogansville

Published 9:56 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2017

HOGANSVILLE – Ten years from now where will local corporations hold their retreats? Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain? The Winshape Retreat in Rome? Or at a comprehensive resort that offers a spa, zip line and kayaking in Hogansville? All three could be possible.

When the Young Gamechangers released their recommendations for Troup County on Friday, much of their focus was on LaGrange, the largest of the county’s three cities. However, one of the ideas for attracting young adults to Troup County was specifically crafted for Hogansville leveraging an undeveloped area beside Lake Jimmy Jackson to the city’s advantage.

“This proposal is to implement Georgia’s very first millennial retreat center in Georgia to help attract millennials to the area,” Young Gamechanger Shemeeka Johnson of Atlanta said. “When we thought to a millennial retreat center, all eyes landed on Hogansville. Why? The population is roughly around 3,000. (It is) about 147 years old – a very historic town. It is approximately 14 miles from LaGrange and less than an hour from Atlanta, but the possibilities are immeasurable.”

The Young Gamechangers contacted two resort groups that operate in other states – named Camp Bonfire and Camp No Counselors – to gauge the groups’ interest in the location and determine if the lake would be a viable location for a retreat center. Both groups have a heavy focus on providing plenty of plenty of fun activities for retreat attendees, or as they like to call them — campers.

“These retreats are kind of like a hotel, but there are a lot of outdoor activities that go along with attending the retreat,” Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz said. “Companies pay to have their employees go there, and the money to build the facility is private money. There are companies that do this exact thing.”

Both Camp Bonfire and Camp No Counselors allow adults of all ages 21 and up to attend either as part of one of their regularly scheduled camp sessions or as part of a scheduled corporate retreat. Corporate retreats can be customized to meet the needs of individual companies with activities like team building and breakout sessions. Those features along with ropes courses, archery and canoeing matched perfectly with the Gamechangers goal of encouraging millennials to visit the area.

“Think about an all-inclusive lake and forest retreat,” Johnson said. “That is a perfect getaway. It is positioned around beautiful Lake Jimmy Jackson, and millennials can come here for everything like zip lining, bonfires, outdoor sports, team building exercises, yoga, spas, food and drink, you name it at the retreat center.”

While the idea has only just been proposed and a lot of work would need to be done in order to bring a retreat center to the area, the Hogansville City Council was supportive of the idea.

“Any new business is great business,” Councilmember Theresa Strickland said. “I’m excited about it and ready to move forward and put this thing together.”

The use of Lake Jimmy Jackson for a retreat center would take advantage of the city’s improvements to the lake which has recently received updated recreational areas.

“I think that would be an excellent location – I’m a little biased – but when people see what kind of place that is going to become, they are going to be excited about not only that coming, but all the recreation opportunities there,” Councilmember Jimmy Norred said. “I’m definitely in support of that, and I’m glad to see that Troup County has already positioned Hogansville for that retreat.”

The Young Gamechangers estimated that if the city donated the land in order to encourage development based on economic impact, then the potential cost of the project to the city would be roughly $250,000.

The group also proposed a number of other ideas that could be easily applied in Hogansville, including a monthly citywide activity night, partnerships with local colleges and community mentors for students. The idea of a monthly event in downtown met with the most interest with the city looking for a date that would complement existing events without competing with LaGrange’s event on the first Friday of every month.

“One of our citizens came up with the idea for Second Saturdays because we already have an event on the second Saturday of each month, and that is the Market Days,” Stankiewicz said. “And so these big ideas while they were specific to different communities, can be explored.”

Second Saturdays would likely include specials at local stores and restaurants and could potentially include live music, all of which would encourage more people to eat and shop downtown.

To read the full Young Gamechanger’s report for Troup County visit