11 Things to Consider Before Selecting a Location for Your Next Youth Retreat

Phil True
February 6, 2015

Planning a youth retreat is a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding for youth groups and youth leaders. These types of retreats create memories children will remember for a lifetime as they form strong bonds with one another around their shared experiences. Because there is so much involved in holding a youth retreat, we put together a list of things to consider as you evaluate potential retreat venues.

Choosing a location for your next youth retreat is an important decision for your group. Finding a place where kids can have fun outdoors is top priority. It is also important to make sure you choose a facility that is in a safe, accessible location. Consider climate, weather, and season as you weigh your options. Natural landscapes are wonderful settings for retreats. Mountains are one of the most popular choices.

Types of Accommodations
While different retreat facilities have different types of accommodations, you want to be sure the retreat center you choose has clean, comfortable accommodations where everyone feels at ease. You also want to make sure there is a large enough meeting space for group worship. You may also want to find out if sound and video equipment is available, especially if your group wants to include music in their program.

If the group prefers to stick to the outdoors during retreats, you’ll also want to ask about outdoor meeting spaces like pavilions. Are there a variety of accommodation types to choose from? How many people does each room hold? Are there cabins? Is tent camping allowed? These questions should help your group decide what type of experience it prefers.

Does the facility provide meals, or will the group have to provide their own food? Some retreat facilities provide buffet-style meals that mean picky eaters get to choose exactly what they want. This also makes planning easier. Be sure to ask about salad bars and vegetarian options if any of your group members are vegan or vegetarian. Because some members of your group may have allergies, remember to alert the staff of any facility you choose.

Indoor activities
Are there plenty of indoor activities that kids can participate in if it rains all day? Bad weather doesn’t have to mean having a bad time. Make sure the retreat center you choose offers lots of activities both indoors and out. Is there a gym where kids can play basketball or other indoor games? Having things to do means getting the most out of your retreat.

Outdoor activities
A youth retreat needs to have lots of outdoor activities for children of different ages. Youth groups love outdoor activities, and retreats that offer a variety of things to do means no one ever gets bored. Look for things like sports fields, zip lines, archery, slingshots, and paintball. Are there teambuilding activities? These types of activities are always a hit with youth groups of all ages.

Does the retreat center have its own program already planned, or are you allowed to create your own program? If making your own program is important to your group, make sure that the retreat you choose allows you to do so. Many groups want to create their own program, so Refreshing Mountain may be the right choice if that’s what your group wants to do.

Cost effective pricing is important to ensure that all the kids who want to go on a youth retreat can go. Affordability is an important factor for lots of families who are financially strained, and making sure pricing is reasonable helps to make it possible for the whole youth group to be involved.

Handicap Accessibility
Do any members of your group have a physical handicap that requires special accessibility? Find out if the retreat you are considering has ramps and accommodations that are handicap accessible.

Are the dates you’ve set aside for a youth retreat available? If not, is your group willing to reschedule? Making sure your chosen retreat center is available is one of the first things you need to do if you’ve already decided on a certain set of dates. Otherwise, plan your trip around dates the center currently has available.

Is there a place to buy snacks and forgotten items like toothbrushes? A youth retreat that has a camp store will mean no one has to go to the nearest town because they forgot to pack an essential. This helps keep the whole group together through the entire retreat.

Is your group full of kids who love nature? Make sure the retreat center you choose lets them immerse themselves in the great outdoors. Refreshing Mountain is located in beautiful Lancaster County, PA and provides a relaxing and refreshing atmosphere for groups that want to recharge.

This list covers some important things to keep in mind when planning a youth retreat. Selecting the right location can make a huge difference in overall group satisfaction. We want your group to have a great time at their next retreat. Whether you choose to book at Refreshing Mountain or at a different retreat center, these tips will help you ask the right questions while looking for the perfect location for your next youth retreat.