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4 Things Every Leader Forgets When Planning A Church Retreat

*Christian summer camp and retreat center, Shepherd’s Fold Ranch host numerous groups throughout the years and has a little insight on forgotten things.

Got a church retreat coming up? Well maybe this is your first attempt at planning something and if so you should read these articles on Planning A Youth Retreat. This short piece will try and cover four things that are typically overlooked when leaders try and plan a weekend retreat. As a summer camp Shepherd’s Fold Ranch has been hosting Church Groups since 1972 and has loads of experience working with a large variety of groups. Our favorite types of groups to work with are Youth Groups, Home school groups, Ministry groups, School Clubs, Sports Teams, Trail Life USA, American Heritage Girls, and various other groups.

Lost and Found

After nearly every retreat, our staff will discover loads of leftover clothes, books, sunglasses and almost every kind of electronic. It seems when people (kids especially) come on a retreat they are dead set on donating all their belongings to Goodwill. All joking aside, when you are planning a Church Retreat you want to make sure that before everyone leaves or gets picked up you take 15 minutes and have everyone sweep through the camp gathering all items not packed and show them off one by one for the group. If you have group larger than 50 it works best to lay all the lost and found out on some tables and have everyone walk through checking if any of the items are theirs. After a group has left most Retreat Centers in Oklahoma will hold onto lost and found for 30 days and then donate them to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. That is what we do, at least.

A/V Hookups

Are you planning on hooking up your computer, dvd player or ipad to show any content? If so you will want to make sure you know what cables your retreat facility has on hand and plan on what you need to bring. You need to make sure you have both video cables and audio cables for the appropriate set up. Also, if you end up borrowing adapters or what not from the camp, ensure that you give the items back before you depart. It is sometimes so easy to accidentally pack their items as your own. ** One pro tip is to label all your equipment, adapter, cables, etc. with your church’s name so they are distinguishable.**

Pick up and Drop off Times

It never fails there will always be those one or two kids who do not get picked up until 3 hrs later because their mom did not know when to pick them up. Do not let that be an issue with your event. OVERCOMMUNICATE the details. I’m talking facebook, email, text, flyers, screen slide, even pay for them to get the info tattooed on themselves! Use everything at your disposal to guarantee your guests know all the details. The other benefit of overcommuniating the details is you will know every logistical detail concerning your event and will not have to reference your notes all the time.

Plan a Lot Play A Little

The last thing that most leaders seem to miss in their preparation is the underplanning for events. It is a good practice to plan activities to fill 1.5 of the allotted time. If you do not have enough planned, the weekend can lose its power and impact but if you are over-prepared then all you need to do is cut out the things you don’t have time for.  Plan a lot and play a little is a reminder of how little time it feels like you have on a retreat, but the preparation required to make it an incredible weekend.

Most importantly and the best piece of advice is to actively prepare for your retreat by praying. The Lord is in control and is interested in what you are doing. Surrender to Him and listen for His voice and all will be at peace.

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