ccharles wrote:Can lay people join these winter retreats in order to learn and practice dhamma and meditation, or are they strictly for monastics?
The Lay support team are there to support the community there so there is work but there is time for personal/group practice. however this isn't a lay teaching period and it is a time for the community to practice and retreat away from interaction (although there maybe some interaction and teaching for lay people on certain occasions it is not like a retreat for the lay support crew in the same way a retreat is a retreat.
Joining is through approval and a previous stay is needed, although exceptions for people known to community members may happen, each monastery may have its own policy here.
This period is not for any stop over guests and the support team is chosen months in advance in some instances although last minuet changes happen you are not likely to be accepted at this stage.