Last Friday we held a Life Group Retreat. "Life Groups" are our version of small groups for high school students named to emphasize the importance of sharing life together.
The retreat was simple. Leaders register their group and each leader really planned the overnighter for their own students (transport, games, dinner, activities, Etc). I provided hotel accommodation that is located close to places to eat and things to do. We ran a very short program at the beginning of the evening to give away a few prizes and to help those newer leaders feel supported and not on their own.
Purpose: To provide an environment for Life Group Leaders to spend quality relational time with their students. Primarily aimed at Freshman or newly formed groups to give them a good head start in relationship building.
Cost: $49 per student (Leader cost covered by student fees)
Accommodation: 4 people to a room, I chose a RedLion hotel where 95% of all the rooms are identical with 2 Queen beds. Pool, fire pits, lounge/lobby area.
Meeting space: Complimentary use of meeting room (I brought my own PA system)
Catering: Groups arranged to meet for dinner on their way to the hotel Friday night, this was not included in the $49. Hot Buffet breakfast included in rooms rate.
Transportation: Groups arranged their own transportation to and from the hotel (30mins drive)
A few thoughts...
1. If we do it again I would rename it "Life Group Overnighter" or "Life Group Hangout" or something that gives a better indication of the low-key nature of the event and doesn't encroach upon our programmed events (like Winter Camp and Summer Camp)
2. It is worth shopping around for hotels and a personal visit will help.
3. Check if the hotel has a rewards program.
4. When you submit the room list, request that girls and guys are on different floors.
5. As trip leader arrive hours earlier than the students/leaders, you will have to reorganize a few rooms around and fix a few errors.
6. Be proactive. I usually check with the front desk during the evening/night to see of there have been any problems. This gives a good impression and helps you head off any potential problems early.
7. Keep the programmed part of the event short. We met together and played a quiz that gave everyone the chance to in something for their group (ranging from a giant bag of popcorn to a deck of cards). Students will be hyped up to stay in a hotel so anything more than that will be tough. It's just a chance to check everyone is ok.
8. Keep your guidelines to minimum. If you are asking leaders to run the show for their group...let them. My only rule was to respect the hotel and follow their leaders direction.
9. Give leaders contact cards. I have a cell phone designated for events so that I can leave the ringtone on LOUD all night.