The Ultimate Retreat Planning Guide

retreat-checklistPlanning a Retreat?

Okay, so perhaps “Ultimate” is audaciously presumptive!  However, based on over 30 years and more than 4000 hosted retreats, we have learned a thing or two. Retreat planning takes a fair amount of work, and there are many details to consider and organize. Refreshing Mountain is here to help! One important decision, if not the most important, is where to have your retreat.  You want to consider things like accommodations, meal provisions, and meeting room(s) when looking for your best value.  Also consider what activities the location has to offer during free time, what hidden costs will there be like travel, meals that need to be eaten on the road, and taxes.  Additionally, look for what discounts the various locations have to offer – discounts for larger groups (can you work together with another church/group to qualify?), free group leaders, rebooking discount for future years, etc.

To help you think through all the details we’ve developed this Retreat Planning Checklist that will take you step by step through the process.  To print, scroll to bottom of this post and click the printer icon.

Retreat Planning Checklist

Ideally you will be able to allow a year to plan for a retreat.  If you have less time simply start at the top of the list and move through as quickly as you can.

1 year from retreat date

  • Pick location – Consider things like accommodations, meal provisions, meeting room(s), what activities the location has to offer and hidden costs (travel, meals eaten on the road, and taxes).

9 months out

  • Announce date to group to start generating excitement
  • Pick a theme/goal  for the retreat
  • Secure guest speaker
  • Look into and make travel arrangements if using bus service

6 months

  • Set a skeleton schedule including activities staffed by host facility
  • Remind participants of the date

3 months

  • Confirm schedule with host site
  • Check with host site when final numbers due and mark on checklist
  • Start making more consistent announcements to group about date/location/theme

2 months

  • Prepare registration packet (packing list, rules/guidelines, schedule, etc)
  • Announce registration deadline and then start taking registrations and handing out packets
  • Have participants/parents sign release forms if needed by your organization or host site
  • Provide host facility with Insurance certificates and sales tax documents as needed

4 weeks

  • Update estimated numbers with host facility if different than contracted for
  • Menu forms filled out if host requests it
  • Dietary restrictions worked out with host facility

2 weeks

  • Lodging assignments worked out
  • Purchase thank you gifts for speaker(s), facilitators, etc
  • If taking youth provide parents with emergency contact numbers

1 week

  • Prepare final payment

Upon arrival

  • Check at main office for payment, keys, etc
  • Make participants aware of rules for facility, your group
  • Post schedules or make sure copies are available

Post Retreat

  • Rebook on time if host site offers rebooking discount
  • Participant evaluation

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