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Tips for Planning a Bang Up Youth Retreat Part 3

Tips for Planning a Bang Up Youth Retreat Part 1 Part 2


Make sure you have read part one and two that are linked above. They have some good stuff in them. I  know because I wrote them. 🙂

But, just because you are nice and I like you I can sum up what we talked about here for you. 1) Make sure you have an Awesome Retreat Location, some stellar volunteers and staff, the most Memorable Camp Program and an engaging guest speaker/worship band. There— that is your recap.

There are two more important aspects for Youth Retreat Planning that need to be addressed: programming games and ensuring there is delicious food.

Program Some Great Games

Fail to plan and you plan to fail. This can not be more true in the context of youth programming. Outside of the worship, sessions and meals you will primarily be spending your time as a group playing games and having “hangout time”. A well prepared leader can have some memorable activities planned so the group leaves feeling close, content and excited for future events. When I am planning events I look to weave them intricately into whatever the program theme will be. That integration provides some great traction for the overall atmosphere for the retreats and is just plain fun. There are multiple online resources for game ideas. I will provide some links at the bottom of this article for game ideas. Games are just part of the equation though. Within the game planning you need to consider, “How does this fit into the overall program theme?” “Is there a way to craft the language to fit specifically?” “What supplies do I need for this?” “Do I understand how difficult this will be for my group?”

As an overview of sequencing games and activities I recommend following the Fun> Challenge> Relationship model. Within this you can evaluate where you groups is- where is needs to be and where the game/activity you are doing will challenge them. The very best activities all have walkon skit intros. This is where you need to have a comprehensive plan for the programming aspect of the retreat. You can just play dodge ball OR you can “save the princess from the Dragonlord by eliminating his army with technology from the stars…. balls.” The right intro sets the stage for fun and involvement. Here is where you can live a little ;).

Meal Planning

EAT GOOD FOOD. I can not emphasize the importance of delicious food enough. A wise mentor of mine in the camping industry once said, “Good food covers a multitude of sins.” This is 100% true. You can half plan activities and not have all the answers but you better serve a stellar dinner. Food is one of those things that if it is not good not only will you hear about it, but it will magnify the other negatives associated with the event. On the other hand people can say, “this was bad and that was bad, BUT MAN the food was amazing!” Make sure you are working with the Retreat Location you have chosen closely to make meal times seamless. You have two options in regards to meal planning: 1) Do it yourself. If you can rent the kitchen area, recruit volunteers to cook and serve, plan the meals, buy the food, run the whole shindig yourself. 2)Pay someone to do it. The Retreat Location should be able to provide meals and when you pay them to do that you need to ask what the meals will look like, second offerings, meal times and food allergy adjustments. Here at Shepherd’s Fold we have the privilege of having Kathie Johnson who owns her own catering company to cook for all our retreats.


Hope this helps you plan. If you want more info about retreat planning or want to book your stay at Oklahoma’s Best Retreat Center, call us today.



Youth Group Games

Retreat Games

Younglife Programming Ideas

Menu Planning

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