Hey, everybody. J.D. here. Last September, I traveled to Ecuador to participate in a good old-fashioned chautauqua. Near Otavalo, I joined Mr. Money Mustache, Jim Collins, and Cheryl Reed to share what we knew about wealth and happiness. Twenty-two smart Canadians and Americans joined us for a week of workshops, one-on-one meetings, and excursions into the beautiful Ecuadoran countryside.

What’s a chautauqua? In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig writes that a chautauqua is “an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer.”
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Pete shares his Mustachian vision for happiness and lifestyle design [photo by J.D.]

During the seven days at Hacienda Cusin, each of the organizers gave a two-hour presentation. Cheryl shared what she knew about happiness. Jim talked about building wealth. Pete (Mr. Money Mustache) tied the two subjects together. And I closed the week with a talk on how to overcome your fears so that you can live free.

But the chautauqua was about more than just lectures. Each of the attendees spent an hour one-on-one with their favorite presenters. We took trips to markets and orphanages. People hiked and rode horses. And, most of all, we mingled in the afternoons and evenings, sharing our experiences with each other. (Here are attendee reports of the event from Johnny Moneyseed and Tom Erceg.)

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Colleen endures smoke and fire (and plenty of spit) during a shamanic cleansing [photo by J.D.]

Last year’s gathering was so successful for everybody involved that we’re doing it again this year. Twice. Here’s the formal announcement.

  • The first 2014 chautauqua will take place between August 9 and August 16. At Hacienda Cusin, attendees will gather to discuss financial freedom, happiness, and entrepreneurship with Cheryl Reed, Jim Collins, Mr. Money Mustache, and Jesse Mecham (of You Need a Budget). Register here.
  • The second 2014 chautauqua will take place between August 23 and August 30. At El Encanto Resort, which rests squarely on the equator, attendees will talk about happiness and freedom with Cheryl Reed, David Cain (from Raptitude.com), and J.D. Roth (that’s me!). Register here.

While I’m sad that I won’t get to spend time with my personal-finance buddies, I know I’ll see them many times in the future. (Heck, last night Pete and I got together on Skype to drink beer, talk about blogging, and record an interview for my upcoming ebook!) Meanwhile, I’m excited to meet David Cain, whose work I admire. (If you haven’t started reading Raptitude yet, you should.)

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Jim and Val prioritize their passions during Cheryl’s presentation [photo by Rich]

Tickets for this year’s retreats are now on sale: week oneweek two. Each week-long chautauqua costs $1,900, and includes meals, lodging, in-country transportation, and scheduled retreat activities. Each chautauqua is limited to 15 participants.

Obviously, this event isn’t for everyone. At $1,900 (plus airfare), these gatherings are for folks who have moved beyond the first stage of financial development. But for those who can afford it, a chautauqua like this is a great way to share ideas with like-minded folks and to gain inspiration. Last year, I got a ton out of talking to so many people who were on the path to financial independence.

Are you interested? You should join me in Ecuador this August!

Note: None of us kept the “profits” from the 2013 event. We used the revenue to pay for expenses — including speaker travel to and from Ecuador — but everything extra was used to fund charitable work for poor people in rural Ecuador. I plan to do the same thing again this year. I don’t need (or want) to be paid for this project, and so I’m happy to forgo my speaker fee.
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Shyam and Jesse watch as Carol is serenaded for her birthday [photo by J.D.]