Frequently Asked Questions

Please take a good look at the FAQ below before contacting us. Of course, you can always contact us at

Q: None of those tickets work for my schedule, can I come from _____ to _____?

A: This is a Retreat Weekend, so it is designed to dive in and go deep. For this reason, we provide a variety of ticket options for different schedules and budgets. We want as many folks as possible to enjoy the Retreat and we will try our best to work something out for you. For those of you who may live locally, individual classes (a la carte) may be possible.  

  • There are many ticket options - please find one that fits your schedule
  • Every ticket is all-inclusive, we can't give you a discount for "I won't eat lunch there on Friday, can I get a discount"?
  • Contact us and we'll work with you to include you in the Retreat.
  • Please understand that we are limited in the amount of support and correspondence we can provide if you don't get a regular ticket - there is a lot of extra communication involved and we tend to have a lot of these requests every year.
  • Please don't just show up... we have to check in everybody who is on campus.

Q: Can I get a discount? 

A: There are two ways to get a discount at the Retreat:
1.) Sign up early to get the Early Bird Discount (through July 12th)
2.) Bring more people. If you bring a group of 10 people, we'll give a Group Discount of 10% off the total. You must register as a group through the website in one transaction - or you can contact us to arrange alternate scenarios. 

Your ticket price includes all our costs, from paying John to type this FAQ, to renting trucks to bring down all the equipment, to buying the plane tickets for all the faculty.

If you do write us to ask for a discount, please let us know what you can offer in exchange in these crucial areas, and we can consider working out an exchange:

  • Major transportation to the Retreat (buses for people, trucks for instruments)
  • Chaperone services for kids programming
  • Printing services (print 400 schedules, maps, etc.)
  • Clothing racks, display racks, drum racks, etc. for Wula Store
  • Fetching campers from the their public bus/driving people to town at odd hours
  • Provide sound re-enforcement services for Saturday concert
  • Professional videography services
  • Professional photography services
  • Digital design services
  • Professional publicity and promotional services

Q: Can I Cancel my registration?

A: We hope you don’t need to, but if you must cancel, our policy is you must cancel more than one week before Camp. We will only keep a $25 fee (per person) and refund the rest. Please give us 1-2 weeks to refund you.  If you cancel within one week of the beginning of camp, or after camp starts, we cannot refund you. This is because we have to pay the camp in full before everyone arrives so they can make all their preparations.  Please let us know more than one week in advance by emailing

Q: In General, What Do I bring?

A: There is a packing list in the Retreater's Handbook. The accommodations are rustic - it's like camping in a cabin, but with hot showers. Please bring your own linens/sleeping bag, pillows, towels, soap, toothpaste and positive attitude. The main thing you need to know is that the cabins are not heated. It gets chilly when the sun goes down, so please bring some clothes for warm days and cool evenings/mornings. An electric blanket is a good idea - there are outlets near every bed. This is the last weekend of summer, so we just don't know if it's going to be hot or cold. Keep yourself posted on the weather, and come prepared for either so you can be comfortable. You can bring a space heater if you wish, but the camp will want to check them out to make sure they are fire-safe.

Please bring instruments - we provide as many instruments as possible, and we provide rentals for certain items, but it is always better if you bring your own djembe, conga, cajon, frame drum, Brazilian percussion, etc. so that we have have more instruments for folks who don't own any.

Q: What is the weather like out there?

A: The past couple of years have been a beautiful 75 degrees and sunny during the day, and in the 40s, 50s, and 60s at night. Please look at the weather online for examples in that area around the time of camp. Use "Reeders, PA" for the most accurate weather, since we are in the mountains. We have put in a request for the best weather possible as always, but you never know. Because we are due west of NYC it should be the same weather as there, except evenings and mornings are cooler.  Please see the last Q: "In General, What do I bring?" for more on this.

Q: Which airport should I fly into?

A: The Retreat is only a couple hours from New York City, and we have Wula Bus transportation available from New York City to and from the Retreat. If you are planning on renting a car or getting picked up somewhere, EWR airport in Newark, NJ is much closer and you can skip the whole NYC traffic, etc. Most folks flying in should fly into any New York City Airport and then take the Wula bus.

The airport closest to the Wula Bus in Harlem is LGA (LaGuardia).
Other airports in the area are JFK International and EWR (Newark, NJ).

You can take public transportation (NYC Subway, Long Island Railroad, other trains) from ANY of these airports to the exact block where the Wula Bus stops in Harlem (149th + 7th Ave. or 2580 7th Ave New York, NY 10039).

Q: What Class Level am I? Where do I go?

A: You will notice when the schedule comes out that classes are organized by level (beginner, advanced, etc.) We don't do auditions or placements but the basic idea is: please don't go to an "Advanced" class if you are not an "Advanced" drummer. The beginner classes have plenty of action, and Advanced does not necessarily mean "faster" or "more exciting". Please be modest and start small - there is plenty of opportunity to grow over the course of the weekend. You are always welcome to watch! 

Q: Can I bring my kids?

Yes.  All tickets include a pull-down option for a kids rate. Youth Rates are published on the Tickets and Rates page. Kids 6 and under are FREE.

Q: Are the cabins heated?

No.  Sorry.  Although there are hot showers and beds in every cabin, they are not heated and you will need to prepare for this like a Fall camping trip.  Bring a good sleeping bag and/or extra blankets and warm clothes for sleeping.

Q: I forgot to get a bus ticket, what should I do?

Please go back to the Registration store and checkout with a bus ticket so we have you on the list!  That way you will be sure to receive all information pertaining to the bus.

Q: Do you have bottled water?

No. There are plenty water fountains at the camp so please bring your water bottle! (see "List of what to bring")

How to pick your class level

“Michael, What Level am I? Where do I go?”
Each year I am asked this question dozens of times. It is a tricky question to answer. It can be relative. People judge themselves mostly by who is around them. So, in communities where there are more novices, the intermediate drummer may seem advanced. Every teacher’s definition of this is different too. 

Our retreat weekend is self guided. 
There is no audition or placement, like at other drum and dance camps. However, in order for this to work, we need everybody to be honest with themselves and to realize this fundamental truth:

Participating in classes at or below your honest, self-assessed level will help you build a strong foundation, open you up to properly absorb rhythms, and guarantees your growth as a drummer. Diving into classes that are beyond your level can be disorienting and can throw complications into your foundation that can stunt your growth as a player.  It is natural to think that going to a more advanced class will help you become more advanced, but if it's over your head it will bring the level of the class down to you, which is not a good feeling and is not fair for the more experienced players in the room.

Please read the drum classes guide below and find yourself a level! Our Wula drum and dance teachers are all excellent and will pick up on the level of the people in the class. Please help us keep the Retreat challenging and fun for all participants!

Check your egos at the door and bask in the beauty of African music and be happy with who you are and where you’re at. Ain’t that what’s it all about?

Drum Classes Guide

 "If you cannot name 5 West African rhythms you can play well, please stay in the beginner class."

Beginning Drum:

This level is for absolute beginners through those who can separate bass, slap, and tone, and who have had some classes before. Class will be at beginner pace, and students will learn a rhythm set with break, accompaniment, dundun, sangban and kenkeni parts. Teachers will break down parts slowly and explain how each drum part fits together. Students who already know a few West African rhythms are still considered a "Beginner." Just because you know a few rhythms does not yet mean you are "Intermediate."

Intermediate Drum:
This class will move at a little faster pace,  and include some simple solo or short arrangements to the rhythms learned. Intermediate is for students who have a good 4-5 complete rhythms under their belt. They should know the breaks, all accompaniments and short introduction or solo. If you can not name 4-5 West African rhythms you can play well, please stay in the beginner class. 

Advanced Drum
Please respect the word "Advanced." What is advanced? This does not mean "professional", and it also does not mean "I’m cool." Please do not step into this class unless you can play all sounds clearly (either hand), improvise a solo over the rhythms you have learned, play fast, retain longer phrase sequences, and pick up material quickly. Warning: if you are found in this class and you are not truly advanced, you will be ejected from the camp with no refund, and left on the side of the road with only a goat skin to keep you warm, and hot pepper to eat. 

Dundun Class
This is for all levels. However if you are a beginner, start on the kenkeni. This is how it is done in Africa.  The kenkeni keeps the timing of the music and allows you to listen to all the other parts and get familiar with the rhythms. The two bigger drums hold the melody of the rhythm and are more difficult to play.

List of what to Bring


  • Warm clothing for evenings
  • Cool clothing for day-times
  • Loose, comfortable clothing for dance classes

Sleeping Gear

  • All linens - The cabins include a simple mattress (see image), but you need to bring everything you want to sleep on:
    • A cold-weather sleeping bag or equivalent with a pillow and extra blanket
    • Extra blankets for folks who forget to bring blankets! (Bring blankets)
    • (Safe, Fire-Resistant) Electric blanket or Space Heater

Bathroom Gear

  • All bathroom supplies you might need - soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.
  • Towels (good to have 2 in case one doesn't dry in time)
  • Shower shoes
  • Extra toiletries to help with lots of drumming and dancing, e.g. shae butter, salves, ointments, bandaids, athletic tape, rehydration packets, ibuprofin, etc. 


  • If you have drums, please bring them with you
  • Please bring instruments for others to use, if possible
  • Anything you want to show off for student performances
  • Instruments to play around the campfire


  • Water bottle
  • Swimming suit for the swimming pool
  • Comfortable walking shoes to get around camp
  • Audio recording device & camera
  • Wifi device for wifi (available near the camp office only)
  • Money for the marketplace (drums, CDs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.)

Check in for Retreat

When you arrive at the Retreat, please:

  1. Check in at Registration in the dining Hall (see map).  You will receive your room assignment, a copy of the schedule, a map of the grounds, etc.
  2. Sign up for open mic night (optional)
  3. Sign up for massage (optional)
  4. Buy tickets for Saturday night raffle- We are giving away some NICE prizes! 
  5. Secure your drum rental(s) if you have rented a drum
  6. Ask any questions/settle up any payments

Driving Directions, Mileage, MARTZ bus

Directions to Pocono Valley Retreat Center

Pocono Valley is located in the heart of the Pocono Mountains, conveniently located within 2 hours of both New York City and Philadelphia. 

The Official Address for GPS is:

300 Camp Akiba Rd, Stroudsburg, PA 18360

Driving Directions

From East: (NYC) Take Interstate 80 (I-80), then follow directions below:

After Stroudsburg:

  1. Take exit 302 toward State Route 611/Bartonsville 0.4 mi
  2. Merge onto PA-33 N 203 ft
  3. Turn left onto PA-611 N 1.0 mi
  4. Turn left onto Golden Slipper Rd 1.6 mi
  5. Continue onto Bartonsville Wood Rd 1.3 mi
  6. Continue onto State Route 3028/Bartonsville Woods Rd 1.1 mi
  7. Turn left onto Neola Rd 0.7 mi
  8. Take the 1st right onto Camp Akiba Rd/Smith Hill Rd
  9. Continue to follow Camp Akiba Rd

From the west: (Pittsburgh) Take Interstate 80 (I-80), then follow directions below

  1. Take exit 284 toward PA-115 S 0.4 mi
  2. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for Lake Harmony/Brodheadsville and merge onto PA-115 S 10.2 mi
  3. Turn left onto State Rd 1.1 mi
  4. Continue onto Sugar Hollow Rd 1.8 mi
  5. Sharp right onto PA-715 S/Sugar Hollow Rd
  6. Continue to follow PA-715 S
  7. Turn left onto Akiba Rd
  8. Destination will be on the right

Miles To Camp from: 

From NYC: 90 miles

Philadelphia, PA: 90 miles

Morristown, NJ: 67 Miles

Rochester, NY: 257 Miles

Chicago, IL: 707 Miles

Albany, NY: 174 Miles

Hartford, CT: 185 miles

Ottawa , Canada: 586 KM

Toronto, Canada: 634 KM

Ashville, NC: 637 Miles

Pittsburg: 286 miles

Atlanta, GA: 828 Miles

Nashville, TN: 832 Miles

Boston, MA: 294 Miles

Washington, DC.: 224 miles

Ann Arbor, MI: 528 miles

Peurto Rico: 1,693 miles

Conakry, Guinea: 4,336 Miles

Bamako, Mali: 4,493 MIles

The Moon: 238,900 MIles

Public Transportation

Take MARTZ TRAILWAYS Bus to the BRODHEADSVILLE Stop (past Stroudsburg)

This bus stop is about 5 miles to the camp!

One way is about $35 (round trip $72.75, including tax)