START PLANNING EARLY! We recommend making reservations between six months and one year in advance. Involve some of the proposed participants in setting goals and planning activities. Youth, families, officers, teachers, singles, couples, etc. know their own needs and can be your best recruiters. Select your first, second, and perhaps third choice of dates.
IDENTIFY YOUR PURPOSE! What issues or subjects will be addressed during the retreat? What will be gained by attending the retreat?
PLANNING ACTIVITIES! Make sure planned activities fit the purpose. If time for personal reflection is needed, schedule accordingly. If improving cooperation and communication are objectives, you may want to arrange some time on our challenge course.
KNOWING THE FACILITIES! Visit the site with some of the planning team. The setting will suggest many ideas. One of the Calvin Center staff will be happy to give you a tour and brainstorm program ideas with you.
EXPECTATIONS! Set a realistic goal for number of participants.
BUDGETING! Budget carefully. Your budget should include such items as:Overnight cost, food, and other services.Honorarium, expenses for outside leadership and program supplies.Give-a-ways. (Some groups give special caps, bandannas, or tee shirts as mementos of the retreat.)Add 10% for unexpected expenses or for seed money for the next retreat.Set fees accordingly. Determine and communicate your policies about refunds and cancellations. Determine your policy about scholarships.
PROMOTION! Promote the event by direct communication with the people who will benefit from attending. Well in advance:Line up people to call and invite potential participants.Hand out and mail out invitations with application forms.Recruit marginal members or non-members to draw them into the full life of the church.Prepare a fun promotional skit for an assembly, church supper, or worship.Announce the retreat each Sunday until all spaces are full.Do not cancel because of low registrations. Have the retreat with the “remnant” and make sure they have the time of their lives. They will come back so excited everyone will wish they had been there.
RESOURCES! Start gathering resources early and continue right up to the event. There will likely be surprises during the retreat so plan to be flexible but don’t lose sight of the goals.
CREATIVITY! Be creative with your programs but maintain some traditions which are meaningful to all participants.
EVALUATION! Prepare an evaluation process. How well were goals met? What was especially meaningful? What could be done better next time? Start planning for the next retreat for this group, perhaps even make reservations before you leave.
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