PROCEDURES FOR RETREATS
Putting on a retreat is a great experience. It is even better if you can get things taken care of ahead of time, so that the retreat is enjoyable for you as well as participants. This checklist of decisions to make and things to do is designed to save you headaches and help you get everything taken care of in plenty of time. Feel free to use it as a Guide only: adding or altering to fit your unique situation. Make notes to pass on to others, if you wish.
(You may also find it helpful to browse through the Conference Procedures section: many ideas are interchangeable between Retreats and Conferences.)*
SIX OR MORE MONTHS AHEAD
- Decide on retreat dates.
- Decide on retreat site and reserve it. (Note: most sites require an advance deposit to guarantee the space.) (See Appendix A for sample retreat center brochure.)
- Consider these issues in choosing a site:
- Is its location central? Convenient?
- Does it offer the space you need for full group activities, for smaller workshops, for recreation?
- Does it offer the sleeping arrangements you need, including both camping facilities and nearby hotel/motel, as well as on-site rooms?
- Can accommodations be made "handicapped accessible?"
- Does it have an attentive staff on call?
- Does it provide meals and have the flexibility to accommodate vegetarians and others with special dietary needs? (See Appendix I for ideas.)
- Does it offer the privacy and security necessary to make participants comfortable?
- Is the space adaptable for offering child care? For infants/very young child "baby-sitting" and for older children in a "youth camp" type program?
*References made throughout this handbook to local "society/societies" denotes any UU church/fellowship/congregation/society, etc.
4. Review W&R (and/or District) policies on retreats, re:
- Child care requirements.
- Financial arrangements.
- Vendors and sales.
- Use of wine/"spirits"
5. Decide whether to have a co-facilitator(s).
Consider the advantages:
- Share the work.
- Test ideas.
- Share the fun.
- Provide more variety in presenting activities at the retreat.
- Troubleshoot more effectively.
Consider these issues in choosing a co-facilitator(s):
- Are your working styles compatible?
- Do you have different skills and interests that will complement and balance each other? For example, it can work well if one of you is the "big picture" person and other the "detail" person. If one of you has never facilitated a retreat before, it helps if the other one has.
- Are you in the same town? If not, can you get together easily and often, at least by phone? e-mail?
- Are you both interested in the same retreat theme?
6. Decide on a specific theme and a title for the retreat that expresses it.
7. Begin to line up needed support persons:
- Registrar. (See Appendix D: Retreat Registrar's Job Description) This is the person to whom participants will send their registration forms and payment. This person will also be assigning bed space; therefore, it is good to choose
- Child Care Workers: Decide on appropriate age categories: you need separate workers and different programs for (1) infants and toddlers, than for (2) elementary to early teens. (Consider at what age boys are no longer welcome at a women's retreat and at what age you want to include older teen girls as program participants or as child care workers.)
8. Check on deadlines for articles in district or other appropriate newsletters.