This idea is planned for this spring and has already sparked a lot of interest.
The youth will be instructed to meet at our church ballfield with only a blanket, the clothes they have on and a Bible. They will also be instructed to come barefooted.
We will make cardboard and twine shoes.
The first day will be spent going to church members’ houses to get cardboard or anything to build a shelter with, this will be their weekend lodging. We will have food hid in various locations to be found by the youth.
Illustrations will be used such as Paul’s missionary travels. This retreat will be twofold: #1 to teach the youth how others live not just in other countries but also in the USA. #2 to let the youth know that they can have fun in fellowship without worldly commodities. As a new youth minister I look for new ways to enlighten the youth and build on the foundation of Christ centered fellowship.
Well, this is based on the book and story of Jonah.
You go into a place, can be in the church building or in a house, depending on the size of your group.
You get the kids to bring flashlights, sleeping bags, pillows, food and drinks, and most importantly, their Bible.
You turn out the lights, and you spend 24 hours in the dark. You spend this time studying Jonah, playing games related to that book, and doing other things you can in the dark. Allowing the kids to sleep any time they need to and awaking when they feel like it.
Do NOT allow watches or clocks in the building. Choose a room close to a bathroom.
Get someone to agree to get the group when the 24 hours are finished.
This is a good way to get a slight idea of how Jonah might have felt.
This retreat is based upon the TV series “Survivor”. Arrange for two large campsites at a state park or local camping site. Depending upon what type of terrain you are closest to will determine the theme of the retreat. Divide your group into two “tribes” and designate a name for each. Ensure the participants have a minimal amount of gear and only one luxury item each.
Have the tribes compete in a series of both physical and spiritual challenges. Such as relay races or Bible drills. The winning tribe receives some luxury, such as, air matresses, tiki torches w/ bug repellent oil, candy bars, you name it! At the end of each evening you can hold a “tribal council” devotional around a bon-fire, unlike the TV series, no one is voted out and everyone wins. This works when you have a diversity in ages as well. Even parents can get into it. Maybe even put them in opposite tribes.
Find a retreat facility that is in need of some volunteer work. I know of some that will lower their rates if you will come and donate the labor. This is something that can help build your group and add a sense of ownership to a facility. If you live anywhere near Arkansas, check out www.gbgm-umc.org/outdoorministries for access to 3 campgrounds and a retreat facility. I did a work retreat at Mt Eagle last spring and we got to cut a new hiking trail that was a prayer walk. Those of us that went really bonded as we got down and dirty moving downed trees, raking, building steps and benches, etc. This can be great for a small group. Make sure that you find out what equipment you need to bring for the project and let your participants know what will be expected of them.