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Youth Retreats: Everything Youth Leaders Need to Know

Youth Retreats: Everything Youth Leaders Need to Know

Monday, 05 December 2022 11:58

As a youth leader, one of your responsibilities may be planning a retreat for your youth group. Retreats are important for young people because they provide an opportunity for students to put away their smartphones and focus their attention on connecting with like-minded peers and on developing a stronger relationship with Christ.

The word “retreat” means “To withdraw to a quiet or secluded place.” Today’s youth are busier than ever before, participating in multiple sports or extracurricular activities, spending many hours a week studying and completing schoolwork, and keeping up with their social calendars or family demands. As a result, taking time away from the stressors of everyday life is necessary.

Some additional benefits of a youth retreat for participants may include the following:

  • Developing community with other believers who are dealing with similar circumstances in life
  • Refocusing on and growing in relationship with God
  • Intentional time for prayer and meditating on Scripture
  • Learning from and being mentored by godly adults
  • Spending time surrounded by God’s creation
  • Having fun

Your role as the retreat organizer is to ensure the environment is conducive for youth to reap the benefits mentioned above. 

Youth Leaders’ Retreat Planning Guide

There are several decisions that need to be made in the early stages of the planning process, including a budget, location, and date. Once these details have been pinned down, subsequent decisions will fall into place with ease.

1. Budget

Your retreat budget will guide you in every aspect of your planning. For example, if you choose to host your retreat at a camp or retreat center, the cost will be higher than staying at the church, and you will have to consider transportation needs. On the plus side, most camps have activities on-site, which are available to guests.

You will need to determine if retreat attendees will be charged a fee and if you will provide any scholarships. Some churches have funds to cover a portion of or all retreat costs, while others depend on families to pay. If your church does not have any funds designated for a youth retreat, you may also consider hosting a fundraiser.

2. Location

When picking a retreat venue, you need to be aware of the size of your group, programmatic needs (like whether you need a meeting space or what activities you would like to do), and which amenities you would like your accommodations to have (for example, if your retreat is in the winter, then you may need heated lodging, or if you want to cook meals for your group, then you will need a stocked kitchen).

3. Date

With all the demands on young people, it can be difficult to find a date that works for everyone to get away for a few days. It is best to plan as far in advance as possible, allowing families to mark the dates on their calendars and plan around those dates. 

When picking a date, be sure to consider the school schedules of your youth group members, the season and typical weather for that time of year, and any community or church events that may interfere with certain dates.

4. Theme

A Biblical theme is necessary to any youth retreat because it helps focus the attention of leaders and participants on a specified topic. As you are deciding on a theme, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the overarching goal of the retreat?
  • What do I want students to remember after they go home?
  • What is a topic or passage of Scripture that is particularly applicable to the group?

No matter what theme you select, be sure it advances the retreat’s objectives.

5. Scheduling

For a youth retreat, your schedule should consist of a balance of structured activities and downtime. Many youth choose to attend retreats because of the appeal of spending time with their friends, so you should plan accordingly. 

If you have chosen a camp or retreat center as your location, consider which of their activity offerings might appeal most to your audience. Keep in mind that some camps require program staff to run certain activities, and these will need to be organized in advance.

6. Volunteers and Leaders

The sooner you start recruiting volunteers, the better! In order to set yourself and your volunteers up for success, be sure to provide them with as much information as possible. Delegating some of the planning to your volunteers can be a great way to ensure their buy-in and take some things off your plate. Clear communication with volunteers is vital, and doing so will make future volunteer recruitment easier.

If you are inviting a speaker and/or musicians to lead your retreat worship times, doing so early will be advantageous so they can begin preparations. Share the theme, Scripture passages, and schedule with them so they can choose messages and songs that align with these details.

Book Tekoa Foothills for Your Next Retreat

Tekoa Foothills is located in Casar, NC, and offers an array of lodging facilities, activities, natural features, and adventure elements on its one hundred seventeen acres. Tekoa Foothills operates year-round and is the perfect place for a youth retreat!

There are three lodges available to rent at Tekoa Foothills, each of which can accommodate between twenty-five and sixty guests. Each of the lodges boasts large living rooms/gathering spaces, porches with seating, indoor fireplaces/outdoor fire pits, fully stocked kitchens, and indoor bathrooms.

Tekoa Foothills has a number of activities available to guests, including the following:

  • Target Sports: ax throwing and archery
  • Swimming Pool and Lake: open seasonally
  • Hiking Trails: miles of on-campus trails 
  • Low Elements Challenge Course: perfect for team building
  • Athletics: basketball, gaga ball, and field games
  • Orienteering: embark on the Tekoa Foothills treasure hunt

For more information, to book your youth retreat at Tekoa Foothills, contact us or visit our website.