Vermont’s Gay Oasis :: Frog Meadow

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Jul 10, 2014

Frog Meadow: A welcoming, non-judgmental place for men of all backgrounds to unwind and shed the trappings of busy modern life

Frog Meadow: A welcoming, non-judgmental
place for men of all backgrounds to unwind
and shed the trappings of busy modern life.  
Source: Courtesy Frog Meadow

 

Vermont’s Frog Meadow is billed as “A country bed & breakfast and massage oasis for men.” Having been there myself, this EDGE correspondent can say that it’s all that, and more.

Situated on 63 acres of rolling, scenic landscape, Frog Meadow is both home and business for Scott Heller and Dave King, a couple of 23 years. Their dedication to serving the gay community by making Frog Meadow a place of respite and connection is borne in part out of a wish to share the natural beauty of their home and the warmth of their hospitality, Scott told EDGE in a recent interview.

“We built Frog Meadow as our home in 1995,” said Scott, a solidly muscular, fiftyish man with an infectious smile and a demeanor that inspires immediate confidence. “And when we first decided to open our home to guests seven years ago, our intent was to share with others this tranquil oasis we had lovingly created. We want men to find with us a place without judgments, where they can divest themselves of their inhibitions — and their clothes, if they so wish — and the opportunity to just regain their equilibrium and re-connect with themselves.”

It’s a perfectly situated, perfectly proportioned retreat for such re-connection. Frog Meadow can accommodate 12 – 14 men, with an emphasis on community. Each day starts with a home-cooked breakfast prepared by Dave, who is a professional chef and massage therapist. Dave uses local ingredients including freshly baked breads, just-picked berries, and honey harvested from Frog Meadow’s own beehives.

Scott & Dave

Frog Meadow’s hosts Dave & Scott are

committed to providing a welcoming,

environment to re-connect with nature
and yourself.  
Source: Courtesy Frog Meadow

 

“Frog Meadow is an escape from the daily grind, that ticking clock of deadlines, work, and obligations,” Dave noted. “Once you get here and you look out at the spectacular vista, you will realize you’ve left all that behind for a little while. We provide a welcoming, nurturing space to relax, restore and rediscover yourself whether in quiet solitude or in the warm camaraderie of other gay men.”

In other words: There’s plenty to do, including the option of doing nothing but relaxing. Either way, you’ll come home refreshed.

In case that all sounds a little too peaceful, don’t worry: Frog Meadow hosts a variety of activities, and workshops, as well as a quarterly potluck dinner that draws around 55 attendees, a combination of locals and house guests.

Frog Meadow also hosts a spring and fall Work Camp that the web site describes as “The all-boys sleep-away camp you wished your parents had sent you to!” Work Camp participants help Scott and Dave maintain the grounds and structures for $25 per day and in return receive lodging, three meals a day, and the company of other work campers. Frog Meadow also offers a Work in Kind Fellowship Program throughout the year, for ongoing projects.

One of this summer’s events is a four-day Men’s Summer Gathering, a “Body/Mind/Spirit Experience for Men,” scheduled for July 11 – 15.

Come late summer, a weekend getaway will offer self-care buffs a Yoga, Massage & Wellness Weekend, Sept. 13-14. (A complete list of activities for the remainder of 2014 is available here.)

Workshop participants can partake in massage weekends or nude yoga retreats. Other guests book their stays precisely because they want peace and quiet, and the resort’s location is conducive to deep relaxation — as is the on-site wood fired hot tub, which is available to all guests, as are the five miles of nature trails and, in summer, the spring-fed swimming pond.

One frequent workshop facilitator at Frog Meadow is Adam Brown, who leads “Heart-Centered Touch” massage workshops.

“A student of mine from workshops I led in Boston suggested I get in touch with Frog Meadow as a possible place to hold my workshops,” Brown told EDGE. “I went to visit Scott and Dave a couple of summers ago and we hit it off right away. Now, my work is an integral part of their programming every year.”

naked_yoga3

Stretch yourself: Nude yoga takes place

next to Frog Meadow’s spring-fed
swimming pond during summer months.  
Source: Courtesy Frog Meadow

 

Asked what his workshops consist of and what their focus is, Brown said, “The main goals of my workshops are to provide a space for men to be authentic, to learn and grow both emotionally and spiritually and to transmit some of the life-changing teachings I have had in the areas of Taoism and Tantra. Gay or bisexual men very much need nurturing environments in which to explore the emotional, sexual and spiritual aspects of their lives It is a great gift to be nourished in non-judgmental community as we evolve.”

Yoga instructor Jon Poupore, who leads several workshops throughout the year and will be back in the autumn, similarly shared his story.

“I first came as a guest, and then led some informal yoga sessions,” Poupore told EDGE. “Scott and Dave, being who they are, saw yoga and wellness as a way to attract men to Vermont. I think this [upcoming fall] wellness retreat, as it’s conceived, will go a long way to make Frog Meadow better known as a place for gay naturists.”

Why nude yoga?

“For a lot of men, this answers itself,” Poupore replied. “Who wouldn’t want to hang out with a bunch of gay men in a safe, friendly setting in the nude? Well, I certainly know that this does not appeal to everyone. But everyone I talk to about it is at least intrigued. For many it’s an ’in’ to nudism. It’s an activity that isn’t necessarily centered around nudism, but more around camaraderie and community.

“Even with (or especially because) of the internet, men seek connection,” Poupore explained. “Naked yoga is that chance to be with other gay men where you can explore your own body (and certainly the bodies of others) in a setting that is less judgmental than a pickup app or a bar.”

Frog Meadow Hot Tub

Fire it up: Frog Meadow’s hot tub is heated

by logs from the surrounding woods. It’s
open 7 days a week, 12 month a year.  
Source: Courtesy Frog Meadow

 

Poupore went on to add, “I often add partner poses. These allow for greater opening and also are a lot of fun. There’s a fair amount of laughing for some of them. But then we bring it back, and focus on the work at hand.

“Sure, there’s some sexual energy present when you get a group of naked men together, but it usually turns into a gentle camaraderie,” Poupore noted.

This ties in with Brown’s observations about the massage workshops. “Men are so in need of conscious touch!” Brown said. “Most of us do not get nearly enough. Some men do not get any touch in their lives. Men are also in need of bonding and community in a supportive and honest setting.

“Men need to be heard and realize that our feelings matter,” Brown went on to observe. “One of the sexiest and most fulfilling things in life is to be paid attention to, no matter what baggage one is carrying. My hope is that they take away all or some of these things and, as well as a commitment to fulfilling their needs in their own environments when they go home.”

Not going to be at Frog Meadow when Brown’s “Energetics of Touch” workshops are in session? You can still enjoy attentive therapeutic touch. Dave is a longtime professional massage therapist, and he and Scott have built a dedicated massage studio in a separate building overlooking the apple orchard, a setting that ensures quiet tranquility and privacy.

“Male touch is a powerful and healing gift,” said Dave, a native Vermonter with a palpably caring presence. Dave explained that his philosophy of massage “is that the body, mind, and spirit are intricately intertwined components of the whole being. If any one part is out of alignment, all three suffer.

“By assisting in bringing the body into balance, the mind and spirit benefit as well.” Dave takes pride in the fact that he custom designs each session for the individual client.

 

Frog Meadow is the ideal place for your wedding! With Vermont’s marriage equality law anyone from any state or country can be married here.

Frog Meadow’s gardens are an idyllic

setting for weddings and Scott is a

registered Vermont Marriage Officiant.  
Source: Courtesy Frog Meadow

 

Whatever might be going on, relaxation is a watchword. Frog Meadow is situated a short drive away from Rock River, which offers a clothing-optional naturist area for sunbathing, swimming, and socializing. Partially in support of this favorite spot of naturists, Scott and Dave host an Annual Garden Party Benefit for AIDS Project of Southern Vermont and Rock River Preservation, scheduled this year for July 19.

The resort has also entered the same-sex wedding arena. And there’s no need to send out for a priest, parson, or other officiant: Scott is a Universal Life Minister. “I can officiate!” he told EDGE.

“Like everyone else in the gay community, we’re just so thrilled about the progress in our struggle for marriage equality across the country,” Scott added. “We were very active in that struggle here in Vermont, and we were honored to be asked to represent the business community and submit testimony in support to the state Senate Judiciary Committee. And since Vermont was among the very first states to honor our right to marry, we wanted to offer Frog Meadow as an ideal setting for a romantic and unforgettable wedding.

“We’ve had several really great weddings here for men from across the country,” Scott added. “And we’re even currently creating an event for someone who wants to pop the question right here very soon.”

“We focus on more intimate gatherings,” Dave told EDGE. “Ceremonies typically include flowers from our gardens, cider from our orchard, champagne, cake and hors d’oeuvres from a local artisan bakery, and wedding party gifts baskets that include our specialty foods and body care products.”

Massage Studio Exterior

 Dave’s massage studio is in a separate
building which ensures quiet tranquility
and privacy.  
Source: Courtesy Frog Meadow

 

Body care products? That’s right: Frog Meadow has its own line of skin care and other products, ranging from hair and body shampoo to moisturizer to massage gel. Scott and Dave also offer a line of specialty food items and Frog Meadow apparel.

Given all that Frog Meadow offers, you might expect some sort of expansive facility that intrudes on the landscape; but the opposite is true. In keeping with the personal, intimate, and quiet character of the surrounding landscape, the 63-acre resort consists of a comfortable main house with several outbuildings, including a barn, where additional lodgings are located, and a relaxing network of four-season private recreation trails.

And while “rustic” may be a good word to describe the place, that doesn’t mean “old,” “creaky,” or “in poor repair.” The property is thoroughly modern (the wood-fired hot tub notwithstanding), offering all the amenities, including an on-site gym. The rooms are charming and comfortable, right down to the king-sized beds in the Main House’s two standard rooms and its deluxe junior suite. The other accommodations have queen-sized beds, as well as other pluses: The Deluxe Barn suite has its own kitchenette, while the Frog Meadow Suite boasts a “two-man jacuzzi.”

More unique still is the Brook Cottage, a small free-standing structure with four walls of windows “nestled down by the brook that feeds the swimming pond,” as the website describes it. “You’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of gently running water and crickets.”

Frog Meadow isn’t a chain or corporate conglomerate. The emphasis on authentic community and hospitality is a major factor in Scott and Dave’s main marketing strategy: Word of mouth from happy guests willing to let their friends in on the secret.

“We have a very loyal clientele who come here,” Scott noted, “some on specific seasons and others who come at different times of the year. And, as a small business that cannot afford million dollar advertising budgets, we are happy to say that most of the guests discover us from others who’ve stayed with us before. About fifty percent of our business is from repeat guests.”

The website’s Guest Reviews section bolsters Scott’s claim, with testimonials that make free use of words like “magical,” “calm,” and “beautiful.” One guest wrote: “The owners, Scott and Dave, have created a property for gay men that perfectly balances rustic simplicity with high-end accommodations.” Another gratefully acknowledged, “The fact that there were no screaming kids doubled the peacefulness.” Wrote still another, “The clothing optional surroundings turned out to be no big deal and was actually quite liberating!”

Guest book comments are one thing, but I don’t mind telling you this from experience: Once you go, you’ll want to go back.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network’s Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association’s Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

 

Spirit and Body: Armin Heining on Gay-Tantra Massage Training

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Jan 15, 2015
Armin C. Heining

Armin C. Heining

Early in an interview (available on YouTube) about his GAY-TANTRA™ workshops and his background, Armin Heining, a former Benedictine monk and the founder of the Berlin-based Institute for Meditation & Tantra, notes that even as a youth, “I knew I was going to be a holy person, or I was going to end up in the gutter.”

Prudes may have their opinions about where Heining has landed, but the longtime instructor of spiritual and sexual techniques for greater personal wholeness is, to those whose lives he has touched, more of a saint than a sinner.

Now Heining is slated to bring his GAY-TANTRA™ Massage Training Workshop to the U.S. for the first time, with a weeklong training retreat at Frog Meadow, an oasis of respite for gay men run in southern Vermont by married co-owners Scott Heller and Dave King. (Frog Meadow’s page about the event can be viewed here.)

“I am following the tradition of Margot Anand and Skydancing Tantra,” Heining told EDGE in a recent chat about his upcoming workshop. “Margot Anand is one of the mothers of the modern tantra in the Western world. She brought it in 1990 from India to the Western world and to Germany. I joined her after being a monk for 10 years because I wanted to connect sexuality to spirituality.”

After 18 years of working with Anan, Heining decided to strike off in his own gay-centric direction. “Until 2008 I was the gay tantra teacher in her tradition,” Heining recalled, “and then… I had the impression that I needed to get more into my homosexual identity. She said, ‘Okay, I understand that.’ We did an empowering ritual to send me out into the gay world and to teach others on the tantric path and my unique, GAY-TANTRA™ program is what has developed as a result. And now this path brings me to Frog Meadow.”

Online descriptions of the courses Heining teaches cite deeper connection as a goal, and a result. But connection to – or between – what? Sexuality and spirituality seems an obvious thought. “This happens on many levels, and everyone will have different results,” Heining said. “One will connect more on the body level. Others learn to connect to their emotions. Others learn to connect to the spiritual. All of this belongs together and everyone gets out of the training whatever it is he’s open to.”

“I feel that I have a gay identity and I am still growing into this gay identity,” Heining continued. “On the other hand, I connect with everyone – not only with gay people. In my seminars, I feel it makes sense to address the gay students because what brings up sexual energy for them are men, rather than women. It makes sense to have a men’s group for a homosexual. But in the ‘Schwule Super-Orgasmus’ [‘Gay Super Orgasm’], which was my last training, out of the thirteen participants we had three bisexual, or heterosexual, students.”

“Some people are more comfortable in today’s world assimilating, because they want to be part of a bigger whole,” Frog Meadow co-owner Scott Heller entered the conversation to say, “but some people are still on the search for what their identity is, and what feeds that identity. It’s nice that the gay community is less ghettoized, however there is still a very strong part of our identity that craves knowing what makes us special or different and celebrating that uniqueness. This [Gay-Tantra program] is nourishment for that need.”

Asked about description of the course as giving its participants the “tools that will enable you to heal yourself from life’s past traumas,” Heining told a story about a participant of a Berlin training who sought a massage session with Heining. “He wanted a multiple-orgasmic massage, but I said to him, ‘I don’t think that’s the best thing for you, you are already so aroused.’ So I did for him a tender gay tantra massage. This is very slow, very gentle, very focused on energy and emotion. It was a healing for him [to learn] that is not always [about] going to the excitement, but also going to stillness… being grounded… the nourishment of the soul, or however you call that.”

The GAY-TANTRA™ workshop & retreat will be held at Frog Meadow Farm in southern Vermont February 1-8, 2015. Participation is limited to twelve men and a few open spots remain. Following the enrollment, each participant receives three introductory DVDs from the GAY-TANTRA™ series as a preparation for the course. Completion of the course will earn each participant certification in GAY-TANTRA™ Massage. Visit www.frogmeadow.com for further details and enrollment.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network’s Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association’s Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

You’ve fallen in love, you’ve gotten hitched, and you’re ready for your honeymoon. But you don’t want to wander too far: what’s wrong with a getaway here at home in New England?

The region, after all, is flush with LGBT-friendly properties that range from ultra-luxurious beachfront resorts to quieter, rustic hideaways in the woods and mountains. Need help narrowing them down? Here’s where to start—whether you’re looking for a honeymoon, or just a romantic reason to escape the city.

Frog Meadow Farm | Newfane, Vermont

Want to get hitched and honeymoon in the same place? Hop over here. Frog Meadow Farm is a country bed & breakfast owned by husbands Dave King, an expert massage therapist, and Scott Heller, who happens to be a Universal Life Minister with plenty of experience officiating nuptials amid the pretty stone patios and vibrant flower gardens at their quaint home and inn. Wedding and honeymoon packages are available, inclusive of everything from cake and flowers to celebratory massages. And you can retire to rustic-contemporary, wooden beam-filled accommodations like the semi-secluded Brook Cottage or plush Frog Meadow Suite, with its two-person Jacuzzi. (The couple has even developed their own line of sumptuous bath, body and aromatherapy products.) The charming hideaway is frequent host to gay men’s gatherings, from Pride potluck dinners to yoga retreats, so you’ll feel at home whether you’re clinking champagne in the wood-fired hot tub, or taking a dip at the gay nude beach at nearby Rock River. It’s a perfect getaway for newlyweds looking to feel refreshed and re-centered. (frogmeadow.com)

 
 
 
 

Guest Reviews

“An Exceptional Place!”

We decided to spend a few days at Frog Meadow to rest, and we were not disappointed!

Scott and Dave welcomed us with professionalism at all times, but also with warmth and generosity. The rooms are spotlessly clean. We shared the bathroom, but that was no problem – we took most of our showers in the garden’s hot-and-cold outdoor shower!

A true happiness! The place was a tad more nudist than we thought, which was not displeasing to us at all…the atmosphere is very relaxed.

Breakfast is outstanding and plentiful. Dave is an outstanding cook and offered a new menu each day: pancakes, French toast, waffles, omelets…if the idea of ​​a breakfast other than the traditional bread-butter-jam ails you, do know! As a bonus, hummingbirds sometimes came to greet us at breakfast time.

The European guests and American guests who were staying with us at the time did not understand quite why we rejoiced as we did, as we were a little worried regarding other meals, since the nearest village is 15 minutes away and the town of Brattleboro half an hour away. In fact, it was no problem! There is a good take-out restaurant in Newfane (incredible for such a small town!) And a farm stand that offers very good fresh local produce. One can easily whip up a nice meal there which is then eaten on the terrace…or one can also purchase enough things for a picnic.

The nearby small town of Brattleboro is quite surprising for the United States, with a downtown “to the European” where there are several very good restaurants. On the way, the local distillery and the cheese factory are definitley worth visiting. Vermont is a state where we know good cheer!

One tip – ask Scott to show you “the big lake on the other side of the hill” (which surely must have a name, but we forgot). Aside from Frog Meadow’s own swimming pond, this is also a beautiful place to swim a few minutes from Frog Meadow!

Erik & Guillaume, Paris, France
Read more guest reviews HERE
 

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