One of the most powerful appeals of the “Retreat Concept” is the concept of refreshment. We live our lives full of demands, things-to-do, and deadlines, so the opportunity to disengage from all the demands for a short time can have a significant impact on our emotional health. It gives us the opportunity to catch our breath a bit, re-focus on what is most important in life, square our shoulders, and regain motivation to re-engage with life.
But just saying “let’s plan a retreat” doesn’t automatically lead to a REFRESHING event. There are some important components to planning an event that will actually be refreshing for your guests. Here are some practical ways you can build refreshment into your next retreat.
1. Have a Solid Schedule
Have a solid schedule, but don’t overschedule. Whether your group is 10 people or 400 people, you need to have a good plan for what everyone will be doing from start to finish. Disorganization leads to chaos, and that will frustrate your guests. At the same time, build in “cushion time”. If you expect that an activity will take an hour, schedule 1.25 hours for it. A little downtime at the end of an activity block is a nice breather, plus it gives you cushion if things get started late, or run a little long.
2. Stick to the Schedule
Unless it is ABSOLUTELY impossible, stick to the retreat schedule. The bigger the group, the more important this is. Re-writing a schedule “on the fly” increases the chaos factor exponentially. Some people will check out mentally and others will get stressed.
3. Delegate Responsibilities
With a solid schedule in place, now delegate the responsibility of different blocks to trustworthy people in your group. Let them know the parameters of what you are looking for, the start and end times, the facilities they can use, etc., but give them the freedom and responsibility to own the details for that block. For example, if you have a speaker scheduled, make sure they know the start and end times of the meeting blocks in the schedule, what the meeting room will look like, any Audio/Visual resources they have access to and so on. For game times, again, make sure your point person knows what location is blocked (i.e. a gym, the sports field, etc), how many people they should plan for, the start and end times, and any other crucial details, but make them own the responsibility of bringing along needed equipment, and/or other details that go with what they plan for that time.
4. Outsource the Food Needs
The logistics of preparing food for a large group of people are truly gargantuan. Even if you can get past the difficulty of picking a menu that will suit everyone, the work is just beginning at that point. Everything from purchasing the food, transporting it, preparing, serving, and clean up all require massive amounts of time and help. Outsourcing this to a retreat center or catering service will free up significant time for you (and/or your volunteers) to enjoy the retreat more.
5. Schedule Down Time
Schedule some time for “rest”. That might just mean free time, but allow for guests to have ample opportunity to choose what they want to do, whether that is play basketball, go for a hike, or take a nap.
6. Plan for Both Social Times & Solitary Time
Plan for both social times (i.e. games, small group discussions, etc) and solitary times (solo hikes, silent prayer walks, quiet time in the lodging areas, etc). Refreshment can come from strengthening relationships, and it can also come from personal time. Having an ebb and flow of social and solitary times will refresh both aspects of the human emotional spectrum.
7. Limit Electronics
Part of the power of a retreat is the break from the routine. Electronics are so much of our routine at this point, taking a break from them can be an effective way to rest and refresh. Encourage your guests to turn off their phones, not login to email, and leave the TV turned off. These simple steps will make a big impact in fostering a refreshing environment for your event.
8. Create Everlasting Memories
Plan 1 or 2 things during the event that will be highly unique and memorable. This could be anything from a bizarre game (i.e. cow-tongue football) to a unique activity (i.e. a High Ropes Course or Zipline Experience). This will stand out in the memory of your guests for years to come. It will be a highlight of the event and will help them treasure the full retreat experience, well after the event is over.
Consider the Refreshing Mountain Retreat Experience. Our stated mission is to help you plan a “Refreshing” retreat. We will take care of the cumbersome background details like the food preparation and the cleaning. We will help you plan your schedule from start to finish, making sure that you have the right facilities planned for the right parts of your schedule. We offer highly unique and memorable on-site activities. From horseback riding to ziplines, to teambuilding, we have lots of variety to offer to your group, as well as the trained staff to keep you safe and engaged. Our facilities are clean and well maintained so that you can have confidence that your guests will enjoy their stay here. We have the key pieces you will need to plan a “refreshing” experience. Let us know how we can help you with your next event.