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How to Budget for Your Church Retreat

If you are responsible for planning a church retreat, whether it’s a youth retreat, women’s retreat, or senior citizens retreat, it is important to set a budget and stick with it. In every decision that you make, keeping your budget in mind will make the planning process smoother.


Many churches have funds set aside for church retreats. Usually, this does not cover all the costs associated with a retreat, but it is a great starting point for you as you pin down the details of your retreat. The most substantial expenses for most Christian retreats are the venue, food, transportation, and speakers, so it is a good idea to address these needs early on in the planning process.

10 Considerations When Budgeting for Your Church Retreat

As you budget for your church retreat, here are some important factors to consider:

1. Population

First, who will be attending the retreat? Obviously, a youth retreat will look quite different from a getaway for married couples. Every aspect of your retreat, from accommodations to meals, to activities, would change depending on the population you are targeting.

2. Retreat Goals

By setting goals for your retreat, you can stay on track as you make other decisions. For example, if one of your goals is for attendees to get to know one another better, you would want to plan activities and build discussion times into your schedule accordingly.

3. Location and Transportation

If you choose a camp or retreat center as your location, this will likely be your largest expense. Fortunately, many camps have staff members to help you create a schedule that fits the needs of your group. Most camps also have on-site food service options and activities which are available to all their guests.

For those who are on a tighter budget, it may be best to have events scheduled during the day (at your church or somewhere nearby), and participants can stay in their own homes at night. For youth or college retreats, consider asking different church members to host small groups or have a lock-in at the church.

Depending on the location you choose and the number of participants, you may also need to provide transportation to and from the retreat. Options for transportation could include renting a charter bus or fifteen-passenger vans, utilizing church vehicles (if available), carpooling, or asking attendees to provide their own transportation. 

4. Date

With everyone’s busy schedules, it can be difficult to pick a date for your retreat. Making this decision as far in advance as possible allows potential participants to mark their calendars and plan around these dates. 

Setting a date early is the best way to ensure your event meets your attendance goals. It also gives you a better chance of securing your top choices of venues, speakers and musicians when you book early. Some retreat centers begin taking reservations a year in advance!

Some questions to ask yourself when choosing a retreat date include the following:

  • What are the retreat goals?
  • Are there certain activities in which I want my group to participate?
  • What kind of weather would be ideal for my retreat?
  • Are there any events, holidays or other scheduling conflicts to avoid?

5. Food

Food costs can add up quickly, but here are a few tips for saving money in this area:

  • Minimize the number of meals included by adjusting the start and end times of the retreat. For example, instead of starting your program at 5pm on Friday evening, push the start time to 7pm and serve a snack instead of supper that night.
  • Look for accommodations with fully equipped kitchens and ask some of your volunteers to cook meals.
  • If you are using a conference center that provides food service, work with the staff to cut meal costs down.

6. Music

You may have talented musicians within your church who are willing to play at your retreat, but, if not, you will need to find someone to lead worship. In addition to the band’s fee, you will likely need to cover any travel expenses for the musicians you hire, so you may want to find someone local to the retreat location.

7. Speakers

As with the music, you need to decide if one of your pastors or church leaders will be speaking to your group or if you will bring in an external speaker. 

8. Activities

If your location is a camp or conference center, there are likely activities included with your reservation. Some activities (such as hiking, fishing, and use of athletic facilities) may be free, while others (especially those that require staff or supervision from the retreat center) may cost an additional fee. 

9. Cost for Participants and Scholarships

Once you have determined what your expenses will be, you can figure out what you need to charge for your retreat. You can also decide if you want to offer any scholarships.

10. Marketing

Calculating your break-even will tell you how many participants you need in order to cover your costs. You may need to plan for marketing costs such as flyers, yard signs, and more, especially if your event is for those outside your church body.

Choose High Peak Camp for Your Next Retreat

If you are looking for a location in Colorado for your church retreat, High Peak Camp is located in Estes Park, just a short drive from Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins. We pride ourselves on providing exceptional customer service to our guests. Our various lodges, facilities, and group meeting spaces allow us to host groups of all sizes and programmatic needs.

Activities available to retreat and rental groups include our zip line, mini golf course, athletic facilities, climbing tower, and on-site hiking trails. In addition, we have easy access to nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. Reach out to us to learn more, and to discuss if we’d be a good fit for your upcoming church retreat.