Before a retreat, contact parents a couple weeks ahead of time to notify them to write a letter to their son or daughter, which will be read by their kid at the retreat. The kids should have no idea that this is being done. The letter can include encouragement, love, and other things people usually don’t find the time to say in their busy lives. We’ve found that the best time to do this is the morning that we are headed back home, because the kids are generally in a tired but calm and reflective mood. Hand out the letters and instruct the kids to find a space of their own to read the letter to themselves (doing this outside is nice). These letters can really open up communication with adolescents and their parents, and let them know that they really care. This is a great activity for high schoolers, where tension with their parents can run very high.