Planning your retreat for a youth group, church or organization can be a challenging process. Whether you are planning a getaway weekend for relaxation and reflection or a session-filled spiritual retreat for your church group, there are a lot of factors to consider. Covenant Pines has put together a few steps to help you choose the best facility for your group’s retreat.
When planning your retreat, start by determining your purpose. This will help when choosing a facility to host your group’s retreat. Think about your group’s needs, what goals you want the retreat to achieve, and things you want to include in the experience. Once you have determined your plan and purpose for the retreat, there are several key factors to consider when selecting a facility.
Where is the facility located? You will want to find a facility within a driving range that is reasonable for your group. However, it should be far enough away to avoid the temptation to go home or to the office during free time. The distance to the facility has the possibility of deterring participants if they are driving by themselves. If you are transporting participants, distance won’t matter as much but be sure to take transportation into consideration. Covenant Pines Bible Camp and Silver Beach are about 2.5 hours North of the Twin Cities. Adventurous Christians is about 5 hours North of the Twin Cities.
What type of facility best accommodates your housing preferences? There are numerous different types of facilities where you could host your group’s retreat. Are you looking for something unplugged, relaxed, and rustic? Or are you looking for Blacklight Dodgeball and a lots of space for huge games? Or maybe your group needs hotel-like accommodations and lots of space for breakout sessions. There are camps/retreat centers out there for all tastes. At Covenant Pines, we have a wide variety of housing accommodations. Adventurous Christians offers rustic lodging that is heated by wood-burning stove. Silver Beach offers luxurious and comfortable housing for families and small groups. Covenant Pines Bible Camp offers comfortable, year-round lodges and cabins at an all-inclusive rate.
Be sure to ask about food as part of your research. Does the camp include food in their rates, or is that an extra fee? Some camps/conference centers serve food cafeteria style, others buffet style. Still others might have a server deliver your food to the table like you’re at a restaurant. Ask about their dining facilities.
Be sure to ask about their experience with special diets. Odds are, you will have someone in your group with an allergy or other dietary need. At Covenant Pines, we pride ourselves on accommodating dietary needs by providing high-quality alternatives. We try to learn the faces and names of those with special diets so that, when they come through the line, we have their plate ready for them.
Another important part of a potential facility is the staff. Staff members are there to help you out. Your first impression of the facility starts when you call them to get details. How they treat you on the phone and in your initial interactions as you acquire information is a good indicator of how you will be treated once you arrive at the facility. Once you have selected the facility, begin the process of communicating information to the staff in a timely manner. Speaking from our experience, the earlier a facility is able to have your information, the better they are able to accommodate your needs and desires.
These questions and ideas are just a few items to consider when planning your retreat; we hope you are able to use these tips to make your retreat planning process a bit less stressful. As you consider different facilities for your group’s retreat, check out what Covenant Pines has to offer by emailing our Guest Service Director, Angie, or by giving us a call at 218.768.2610.