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7 Tips for Planning a Great Youth Retreat

If you are a student pastor or youth leader in a church or organization, there are many reasons you might be considering planning a retreat:

  • To help youth relax from the stress of school and social pressure. 
  • To help youth take a break from intense athletic and extracurricular schedules. 
  • To give youth a planned break from phones and social media.
  • To facilitate opportunities for students to make meaningful connections with other youth. 
  • To provide a chance for youth to enjoy nature. 
  • To help remind students of the love of God through Jesus.

A youth retreat is a great way to get middle and high school students out of their comfort zones and away from their phones so they can connect with God and others.

High Peak Camp has hosted many youth retreats in our many years of operation. We want to help make sure you and your students have the best time and accomplish all your goals. 

Here are seven tips for planning a great youth retreat:

Seven Ways to Ensure You Have a Great Youth Retreat

1) Don’t Wait to Plan Your Retreat

Your teenagers might be chronic procrastinators, but you can’t afford to put off planning your retreat until later. There are numerous time-sensitive steps to take for an effective retreat, so you need to start planning ASAP:

  • Location: You need to start planning early so you can book the facility you want. As you might imagine, good retreat facilities get booked quickly. 
  • Transportation: Most of your retreat attendees will not be driving themselves, so you will need to plan for transporting them. That may mean renting vans or a bus. Those vehicles get booked far in advance. You will also need to find drivers and make sure they can put your retreat on their schedules. 
  • Recruiting: A youth retreat will require an appropriate adult-to-student ratio. You will need to recruit vetted volunteers, possibly drivers, cooks, and others, to ensure a smooth retreat. That will take time. 
  • Theme and Activities: You need time to plan a theme, potentially book a speaker, and plan your schedule. The sooner you put your retreat on the calendar, the better. 

2) Choose a Location with Natural Beauty

If you want your students to look up from their phones for a weekend, host your retreat somewhere with an abundance of natural beauty. Estes Park is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and borders RNP. High Peak Camp’s setting is stunning, and youth can’t help but marvel at the glory of God revealed in nature. 

3) Balance Downtime and Activities 

There are two potential scheduling pitfalls to avoid: 

  1. Too Much Downtime: Your students need to rest and relax, but too much downtime leads to boredom. Boredom can tempt teens to get back on their phones or start being mean to one another. 
  2. Too Many Activities: In a quest to make sure your students are having plenty of fun, you might think planning an airtight schedule is a solution. However, too many activities can add stress to the retreat and prevent your youth from enjoying their time in nature and building better relationships.

Striking the right balance between downtime and activities is key to creating a good schedule. 

4) Choose a Theme That Will Help Students Grow

A quality youth retreat will include time spent focusing on God. Pray with your leaders about a theme on which to center your retreat’s individual quiet times and group times. You want to nail down a theme as soon as possible, so you can begin communicating it to your leaders and, if necessary, speakers. 

5) Plan Team-Building, Confidence-Building Activities

Your youth retreat gives your students a chance to step out of their comfort zones, so they might already be inclined to try something new. At High Peak Camp, we offer several options to help kids embrace adventure and accomplish feats they would not otherwise get to do, including:

  • A climbing wall
  • High ropes and low ropes courses
  • Hiking trails on and off-campus
  • Ziplining
  • Ice skating and snowshoeing (during winter)
  • Trout fishing
  • Archery

These activities will help instill much-needed confidence in your students, and you’ll be surprised how much participation in them will lead to open and honest conversations. 

6) Get Your Retreat on the Calendar and Advertise It

Teenagers have incredibly busy schedules. Their weekends are often booked many months in advance. Between athletics, extracurricular activities, and work, there are very few free weekends for students. It is vital to plan your retreat far enough in advance to give your students the chance to sign up. 

However, it’s not enough just to put it on the calendar; you have to communicate it to them and, more importantly, their parents, with enough time to let them put it on their calendars. While you don’t want to leave anyone out for financial reasons, it could be a good idea to charge a small deposit upon signing up. 

7) Pray for Your Retreat and Students 

One of the most important steps you can take in planning your retreat is praying with your leaders for the students and the retreat itself. Begin praying as soon as you know you will plan a youth retreat.

Are you ready to schedule your youth retreat in Estes Park, CO? The team at High Peak Camp is here to answer your questions and serve your students. Contact us for more information about hosting your youth retreat at High Peak Camp.