Blog Details

Tips for Planning a Bang Up Youth Retreat Part 2

If you are reading this blog chances are you are looking for help planning a Youth Retreat.  Also if you are reading this, make sure you have read the first part of it that covers some initial questions.

youth retreat planning tips

Plan A Theme

When you have your location, date and volunteers lined out for your retreat it is time to get to planning the theme for ministry and programming. Historically if there is a flow between the two, students will have a better chance to remember the meat of the retreat and the characters used to tell the stories. This can provide some cohesion for later references. Some simple ideas for theme planning come from playing off of popular characters in pop culture and or obscure comediec groups. I personally love alot of the content from Rhett and Link and Blimey Cow. For an upcoming retreat we are playing off the hilarity of “Neature Walks” and making our own characters. Do not cheapen your event by having weak characters or straight ripping off other things. When we played off the “I’m Hungry Games” our host was a girl named “Catnip Evergreen”, cousin of the famous Katniss Everdeen. Other great ideas are to build off of old movie characters/tv shows. Great examples of this come from playing off the Three Amigos and Lord of the Rings. Really, your source could be anything. It is important to craft the characters and theme into something that can be fun, memorable and appropriate. I usually suggest the characters have a line or two that becomes their motto that the kids will remember because it was said multiple times throughout the event. Whatever you decide to be the source for your theme, just ensure you can generate enough content and character development to last the entire event.

Book a Guest Speaker/ Band

To be vulnerable, one thing we don’t utilize well enough here at Shepherd’s Fold Ranch is our existing relationships with the churches and groups that use us as a Retreat Center and Summer Camp.  By that I mean, when we are planning our events and summer camps it would be incredibly powerful to lineup some special musical performances and guest speakers to pour into the students. I understand most organizations desire to save money and to be the filter for who/what is discussed at their events and I also feel this draw to want to learn from others. For plannings sake, bringing a band to play for worships services and bringing a guest speaker to teach throughout the retreat allows those parties to only focus on those specific things and frees you from otherwise daunting tasks. Within your church ask around for any local college/post college bands who your students love. Try to get in touch with them and find their availability and any expected pay. If they offer to do it for free, I recommend being generous and give them a small honorarium. You may very well have a student band that is already coming and if so, great! 

Booking a speaker can sometimes be a bit more troublesome. Now, you can always manage this yourself and there is nothing wrong with that, but if you are wanting to bring in an outside voice it is imperative you act as the Shepherd by filtering out the ideas/doctrines/attitudes that may lead your students astray. There are resources within your church to find volunteers who may be interested in teaching for a weekend, or you can use websites such as GigMasters to find an appropriate speaker. Most speakers on the online sites will come at a substantial price tag. If affordability is your goal– look through your relationships to find an appropriate person. A standard honorarium for a guest speaker is most likely $100- $500 per session dependant on experience.

Click here to read the conclusion to Planning A Bang Up Youth Retreat.

For more information from the book of the internet:

Christian Guest Preachers

Classic Comedies

Oklahoma City Church Retreat Center

How to teach a Bible Lesson


Leave a Comment