But if you are responsible for planning and implementing a youth retreat, there are many more concerns than just having fun. You will be caring for other peoples’ children, ensuring their safety and wellbeing. It is also your job to create a retreat that will be meaningful to the kids and achieve the goals you have for your group.
At Shalimar Retreat, we have hosted scores of youth retreats, including many Fuge Camps, and we would like to help you plan yours.
As you look forward to your next youth retreat, please use these tips to make it the best one your group has ever experienced.
1) Start early: Retreats require money and volunteer power. If you are conducting fund raisers, they will need to be started early enough that, if you don’t achieve your funding goals the first go round, you have time to do another one. Also, supporters may want to donate more than once; give their bank accounts time to recover so they can give again.
Also, volunteers. Your youth retreat volunteers are likely not going to be retired and at their leisure. They will have regular jobs, and will need time to coordinate their work schedules with your trip. Give them plenty of leeway and a head start.
2) Find a user friendly location: It might sound like a great idea to take your group to the wilderness for some reflection and solitude, but in reality, this connected generation of kids needs something to do. Many of the difficulties encountered on a youth retreat have to do with planning and execution of activities, and preventing boredom. There are so many issues to consider when planning a retreat, it will save you much heartache and time if you find a venue that is set up for and experienced at your type of retreat. Of course, Shalimar retreat is a full service retreat location, and would be thrilled to help you plan. We can take a lot of the pressure off.
3) Over-communicate with parents: When they are sending their children away on group retreat, parents are nervous and need lots of reassurance. So, communicate with them about the trip more than you think you need to. Ignorance breeds anxiety, so make sure parents know every single detail of your trip and planning process. Ask them to be a part; hold question-asking meetings so they can feel completely confident in your trip. Also, put everything in print for their reference. Do this, and parents will be on board. They will also be much more likely to support and promote the retreat to others.
Planning a youth retreat is a big job, but you can do it. There are many other resources and ideas out there to equip you as you put this together. Just always know we are here to help anytime.