Tip #5: Give freedom.
It’s important to trust people. These are college-age people, not junior high students. They have freedoms in every day life that you don’t want to impede on. For instance, they don’t have a bedtime at home so don’t give them one on the trip. They live with some standards, but their parents aren’t likely asking them where they’re going every time they leave. It’s important to watch the amount of things we require of them. For example, on our Utah trip the only things we asked people to be at was the dinner and the evening meeting. That was it. They had a schedule for the next day so they knew what was available and they had freedom to do what they wished. Buses left for the resort at different times so if they wanted to sleep in, they did so. If they wanted to wake up early and be the first on the lift they could do that. They had freedom and this is very important on these retreats. At the end of the night meeting I would announce some night options available to them and then simply say, “We’ll see you tomorrow night at dinner, if not before!”
Tip #6: Minimize and maximize meetings.
Many times we feel like we need to fill the schedule with a ton of meetings and seminars for it to be meaningful and worthwhile. I couldn’t disagree more! Of course there might be certain retreats you do for a certain type of person that can be designed around meetings and imparting a bunch of information, but if it’s open to everyone you want to avoid this tendency at all costs. My recommendation is to minimize the amount of meetings, but maximize what you do in them. I’m not saying make them long and do a bunch of different things. I’m talking about making them meaningful, in-depth, and worshipful. Do a few meetings and do them well. Again, using our Utah trip as an example, we only had one meeting a day. It was after dinner and it was about an hour and a half long. We had a worship band and we had someone teach on the theme. We wanted our students to think through one thing all weekend, process it with others, and think about how to embrace that idea in their life. That was it. We minimized the amount of meetings, but sought to maximize the impact by concentrating on one theme. The last thing you want to do is exhaust their time with giving them a bunch of information. Give them some, but make sure they have time and space to process what you give them. Most people don’t drink from a fire hose. Drinking from fountains works much better.