Retreats

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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