|Camp Blue Diamond|
Planning a Retreat
The sooner you know your retreat's Objective the quicker you can decide:
2. The Length of your retreat. If your retreat has a reunion flavor, focuses on a crafts (quilting, scrapbooking), is heavy on education, or its participants traveled far, a longer retreat of at least two or three days works best. If your retreat is largely recreational, participants are more local and know each other (same church, organization), then a one or two day may be better.
The Five Elements of a Great Retreat:
1. Introductions: There should always be an intial group building activity, regardless of how well participants know each other. Camp may be a new environment for some, and most will be anxious about finding new friends, new sleeping and eating arrangements, and whether they will have a good time. A couple well planned "Get Acquainted Activites" will bring participants together, letting them know everyone is in the same boat, and that the ride will be enjoyable. Remember to keep it light, friendly and fun. Name tags are helpful too.
2. Educational Objective: If the retreat has a resource person, he/she should give a keynote address, laying out the objective of the retreat. Sessions led by the resource person should have a variety of learning experiences including: lecture, discussion, small and large group activity and hands on learning. Potty Breaks and refreshments help participants keep their focus. No single session, no matter how varied, should exceed 90 minutes.
3. Physical Activity: This element is essential, and more often ignored than any other. Typically participants will eat more and exercise less in a retreat setting. Activities can be organized or informal. At Camp Blue Diamond there is a basketball and volleyball court, a foursquare diamond, disc golf, trails for hiking, a meditation area, a lake for canoeing, fishing and swimming, and a Group Building Course with a dozen initiatives. Bring board games and other activities that can be played inside in case the weather is nasty.
4. Rest: You may have the best organized retreat and still have unhappy participants, if you don't give them some unstructured time to rest, visit and relax. Set aside time for idle talk, unscheduled recreation and relaxation. This works especially well after meals.
5. Evaluation: During the first session it is a good idea to establish the objectives of the retreat. Place these in a conspicuous place, so they can be reviewed during the weekend. When the retreat is ready to conclude, review the objectives and evaluate the retreat. If this is done after a recreation or break time, participants will feel good and will give a fair evaluation. If this is done after a long session, the evaluation may be unfairly negative. Placemen of the evaluation is important, for it sets the tone for what many will remember about the retreat. If the evaluation is favorable, folks will take home a good impression, talk positively about the retreat and plan to attend next year.
Making a Reservation:
Publicity - Getting the Word Out:
Educational and Spiritual retreats bring earnest people, but usually smaller groups. Recreational events produce more people than expected, so plan larger.
The group leader, or his/her designee, should arrive first, so participants are warmly welcomed.
When everyone has arrived and moved in, spend a few minutes welcoming everyone, establishing expectations for the group and going over Camp Blue Diamond policies. This activity works well right before or after your "Get Acquainted Activities".
Rarely will a well planned and publicized retreat fail. Thorough planning is hard, but worth the results. We respect you for taking on the job of planning a retreat and will work with you at every possible turn. Keep in contact with us and let us help you succeed.