If you haven’t had your winter retreat already, many of you are planning or in the middle of preparing for a youth winter retreat.
Here’s a few tips to get yourself ready and make the most of the days & weeks leading up to your event:
SHARE YOUR THEME WITH LEADERSHIP
It’s helpful that your staff and pastor(s) know what your focus will be for your winter retreat. Sure, you may get a ton of suggestions and ideas that you won’t be able to incorporate- but you might actually hear something that you know will make a “good retreat” great. The important thing here is that others feel included and important enough to be made aware of what you are doing. The same is true for your youth leaders and volunteers.
REMEMBER TO BE RELATIONAL
From a student’s perspective, winter retreat is a fun getaway to enjoy friends and have a good time. Of course as leaders, we want to deliver a message that will help them grow closer to God; but let’s not overlook the importance of building relationships. This is a great opportunity for students to bond and grow deeper in their friendships. It’s also a chance for your youth workers to connect with students. Plus, there’s a good chance your students invite friends- how you make them feel welcome and cared for will likely determine whether they return to join your group for other activities.
COVER IT WITH PRAYER
We have all heard it before, “there’s power in prayer”- but we don’t always act on it or know how. Consider trying one, some, or all of these prayer ideas for your winter retreat. Offer your church body a chance to take a name of a student attending winter retreat and pray for them before, during, and after the event. Share with parents what your teaching and schedule looks like so they can pray specifically for their child. Give each student a name of a youth attending the retreat and challenge them to pray for that person throughout the retreat.
MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE
Since many of the locations for your retreats are true getaways, you know the challenges that presents when it comes to picking up something you may have forgotten. Make a list of the essentials and then double check that you have it as you pack and load up for a great weekend. Coffee and aspirin are definitely near the top of my list (after Bible and First Aid kit, of course)!
Gene DeKeno is the Director of Children, Youth & Family Ministries in Albuquerque, NM in the church he grew up in. He takes his experience as a child of a broken & blended family to inspire kids and parents to have a life and home centered on Christ. He serves his church and community with the help of his amazing wife of 15yrs and their two incredible kids. He loves all things Chicago, especially its great food and World Championship Cubs! Connect with him on Twitter or Instagram (@genedekeno)