Retreats

Soul Survivor Retreat

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.

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Elbow Grease Retreat

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.

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Road Rules

Much like the MTV show by the same name, but it is a spiritual retreat put on wheels, with stops along the way for food, sleep, and bathrooms (of course)- BUT also for devotional times (connected with a location), challenges, mini-events, and other craziness.
Combine “Discipleship Now”, “Survivor”, a lock-in, and then put it on wheels. Your destination can be someplace particular or it can be absolutely no where (the trip is the event). Lots of bonding, Lots of fun, Lots of spiritual growth!!!

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Titantic

We saw this idea on T.V. for a whole other reason, but we took the general idea and put a Christian twist on it. We used this idea on our winter retreat. After all the youth had ate and we had done our nightly devotion we set the mood. We set out a lot of lit candles in the room and played music in the background, (we repeatly played “Friends are Friends Forever”). We asked the youth to all stand in a circle and hold hands. Then we set the scene….”We’re all aboard the Titantic and it’s going down! But there is only one lifeboat big enough to hold one person….who’s it gonna be?” Now explain to the youth that they are going to decide by choosing one person to live. Each member of the youth group must go to each person in the circle and say “You LIVE” or “You DIE” they can only choose one person to live.

This will be a tender moment for the youth as they realize how precious life is and what kind of testimony they will be living behind. After each one has gone see who had the most “You LIVE”‘s and pull them to the front of the group.
Then say ” O.K. guys the water is coming up on the deck, we’ve gotta get Liz into the lifeboat, but before she goes, you have one last chance to tell her something to carry back to your family and friends… remember keep it quick the water is almost here”

Our youth took this time to reflect on their lives and shared things like, tell my uncle if he wants to see me again he needs to get saved, and others said tell my parents I love them and I’m sorry for all the times I did wrong.

It was a hard thing for the kids but it brought them closer together and mostly closer to the Lord! After taking Liz from the room we played the song one more time and let those left behind take that time for themselves. Then after the song we told them…”LOOK! what’s that? Off In the distance it was the Carpathia, you have been rescued! Now take back your messages yourself and commit each day be a stonger Christan and witness for Christ!

This exercise is such a spiritual one, if done right and in the right way, We saw God move in a unbelieveable way and I preached on how Christ was my Carpaitha! Our youth grew in Christ because he was present!!

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Girls’ Retreat

A few years ago we were dealing with some issues among the young ladies of our group. I felt the Lord lay it on my heart to have a weekend retreat just for them. It didn’t actually take place until a year later, but it turned out great. We’ve had a total of three retreats so far and the girls are already looking forward to this year’s retreat.

There are three goals for the retreat: strengthen relationships between the girls, strengthen relationships between the girls and the female members of the student staff, teach and talk openly about issues that young ladies deal with.

I’ve tried something different on each retreat. Here’s what seems to work best with our group.

1. Stay in a lodge large enough to house your entire group. If you have to limit the number of participants then do so. It’s difficult to achieve unity and develop relationships when everyone is divided into hotel rooms and there is not a central place to hang out.

2. If you have a problem with cliques within the group plan an activity that splits them up and encourages them to meet others. It can be an icebreaker or a game that focuses on teamwork. If you stay in hotels or a lodge that has several bedrooms, put the members of a clique in separate rooms with people they don’t know very well. (But don’t reveal the rooming list until you arrive at your destination – it will save a lot of headaches!)

4. Don’t try to cram too much into the weekend. The format that seems to work best for us is 3 teaching sessions (or 2 sessions and a devotional prior to departure), one fun activity outside of the lodge and adequate free-time to play cards, games, etc.

5. Unless the girls are out of school on Friday, try to stay within two hours of home. This is precious time – you don’t want to eat it up with a long drive.

6. Use chaperones that you can trust and that the students feel comfortable with. You may have young ladies that share very personal and confidential things. Be sure your chaperones are trustworthy. I have used parents as chaperones, but only in cases that I knew their daughters and the other teens would not be hindered by their presence.

We try to choose topics that the girls seem to be dealing with at the time. Two years ago the topics were relationships (dating and friendships), modesty, and self-image. Last year’s topics were having a strong foundation and finding God’s purpose for your life.

With the right planning and preparation and lots of prayer you can have a powerful weekend that truly impacts the lives of the participants.

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Waiting in the Wings Retreat

Last year we had this retreat and everyone had a great time!

“Waiting in the Wings” referred to waiting off stage for our time or our purpose. So, we did all the extra things with a Hollywood Theme.

First, the study for the weekend talked about preparing for the part of a lifetime and waiting for God’s cue to be utilized. For a great story to use with this, email me.

Everything we sent out for registration, was a “casting call” theme. When people arrived we had a “Guard” at the entrance of the retreat location, checking folks in and handing them “VIP – Back Stage Passes” (Name Tags)and then letting them out of the cars at a red carpet entrance (Really a taped down red plastic table cloth).

The red carpet was occasionally had cardboard cut out celebrities and beind them we had hidden Paparazzi who popped out and took photos of them. Quickly, everyone caught on and started playing the part of celebrity.

Later during the retreat they would find their assigned beds each contained an “personalized and autographed” celebrity headshot on their bed. Each room was named for a different movie, ie Kitchen – Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Bathroom – Gone with the Wind, All girls room – Steel Magnolia’s, etc. . . Each prayer group was also named for a TV Show (Gilligan’s Island, Friends, The Beverly Hill Billies, etc.) and on Saturday Night each group sang their “Theme Song” for a Kareoke Contest.

We also had a hallway that was converted to Hollywood’s famous “Walk of Fame” where each person could find their name on a star. Folded down each bed at night with a chocolate mint on their pillow, gave everyone sunglasses and the girls had feather boa’s.

By the end of the weekend, not only did everyone feel pampered and treated to “Star” treatment but they were confident about who Christ had created them to become and were content with “Waiting in the Wings” until God directed them to take the stage.

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Strength Test

On a recent youth retreat, each kid was given three large nails (about 8″). They were to stand with one in each hand with their arms straight out and one between their feet for 33 minutes (one minute for each year of Jesus’s life). It was dark outside, we were at the lake and there was praise and worship music in the background. Many of the kids said they got tired and wanted to drop their arms but then they’d think about the agony He went through for us and it really put it into perspective.
This was the highlight of the weekend for many.

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Coffee House At Camp

Good activity for the final night at a camp/retreat is to have a coffee house program. At the beginning of the camp, divide the kids into groups of about 7 each. Ask each group to develop a coffee house presentation such as drama, singing, reading, etc. During the coffee house, each group will have the opportunity to make its presentation. Set up for the coffee house by covering the tables with white paper. If the tables can be folded, place them on the floor in the shape of a circle. Have the campers bring their sleeping bags, and blankets to sit or lie upon in front of the tables. Use candles on the tables for light. Have juice and donuts, and popcorn for refreshment. Begin with singing and guitar music. Let each group make its presentation. Close with a time of sharing and prayer.

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Creative Weekend Retreats

Some interesting ideas:
1.) Times of silence (after an evening meeting for a couple of hours)
2.) Weekend of study: fellowship and everyone gets their homework done. Everyone brings homework, terms papers etc.
3.) Minority Weekend: Give group a glimpse of prejudice. Divide the group into 2 sub-groups. Each sub-group plays the role of a minority for half of the weekend.

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Free Time Retreat

Kids seem to love free time at retreats. Try giving them a full free day. Let them know the day before that they can do exactly as they like. When everyone gets up in the morning, they’ll discover that the cooks were also free and there’s no breakfast. They’ll hopefully form groups to get things done. Everything will be a group decision. They’ll learn that discipline is essential, especially in youth groups. *** I think a youth leader may be needed to help get things off the ground just in case chaos develops. Plan in advance for such an occasion.

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