Have you been thinking about throwing a retreat? Have no idea where to start? After years in the retreat business, here are 5 ways you can prepare for your next retreat!
- Vision – It’s important to have a clear direction when you start the retreat planning process. This is a good time to ask who (adults, women, youth) the retreat is for, what (develop group dynamics, relax, learn) is the purpose of the retreat, where (someplace serene, activities, amenities) you would like to have the retreat, and why (because of problems, fatigue or something else) you decided you needed to have a retreat.
- Reservation – This is all about nailing down the venue, food service and any other outside-contracted pieces. Retreat centers can book up to a year in advance, and annual groups can hold onto a particular week in a busy season for years at a time. As soon as you know you want to have a retreat in a particular season, start shopping around to see what venues have availability – this piece alone may dictate what amenities and activities are available for your event.
- Market your event! – The key to a successful event is getting the word out so people attend! You want to start getting the word out 6 months in advance so people can take time off from work, and get it on their family calendars. Consider sending out a “save the date” or other advance notice of your event. Then, as the event grows closer, use social media to create an informal RSVP for your event and spread the word to your attendees’ friends! Don’t forget the value of a flyer/poster or powerpoint slide at events like Sunday church services, or monthly meeting gatherings.
- Facilitate attendance – Sometimes the biggest issue for retreats is getting people to the venue. Gas is expensive, and it can be a hassle for each person to spend time driving. Create a carpool sign-up, charter a bus, or use the church vans. Make it easy for the people who want to attend to make it – sometimes the ones who would opt out because of transportation are the ones who need your retreat most!
- It’s all in the DETAILS! – So many times I hear that decor and printed materials aren’t worth the extra $$ and that couldn’t be more inaccurate! Added touches like lighting and drapery can really create an atmosphere for your event. Consider creating a meditation or prayer space with a rug, pillows and soft lighting; pump up your sessions by starting each one with a themed intro tune (15-30 seconds) to grab the audience’s attention; personalize the retreat by adding name signs to the doors of your lodging (and make those signs look good)! It’s the little things that can take a retreat from great to INCREDIBLE!
Are you pumped up for your retreat yet?! Keep these five planning tools in mind and you’re sure to elevate your retreat.