It was a privilege to be the speaker for the Aldersgate UMC Sr. High Students this past weekend at their retreat in Hardin, KY. It’s been a while since I had been on a one church youth ministry retreat. Back in the early 1990’s, it seemed that every group did their own retreat each year (or twice a year). But a few years later, it seemed the thing to do was take your group to an event where the program was already planned and scheduled. There are benefits to both, but I’d like to see the pendulum swing back a little more toward groups spending time together for a weekend once in a while.
The schedule for the retreat was really laid back. It’s almost like, there is so much going on in the lives of students that they need a vacation or a break from it. One of the leadership goals for this weekend was to create a easy going, low stress atmosphere. This was the basic schedule:
6:30 – arrive at the retreat center
7:30 – supper
8:30 – worship and speaking
10:00 – free time before going to bed.
9:00 – breakfast
10:00 – worship and speaking
11:00 – free time before lunch
12:30 – lunch
1:30 – free time
6:00 – supper
7:30 – worship at the campfire
9:30 – games, snacks, etc
11:00 – bed
8:00 – breakfast
9:00 – worship and communion
10:00 – pack up and head home
This schedule, even with the large amount of unstructured time, worked extremely well for a close knit group of high school students and some of their friends. It was a great
balance of connection, worship and time to be together. The students spent time
hiking, playing basketball, apples to apples, wii and a different team of five students helped prepare each meal (with the help of the lead cook). There were about thirty people in attendance for the retreat.
Another interesting thing for me about this retreat was that the youth pastor and his wife were both high school campers when I first met them 15 or 16 years ago. Harvest was leading music at the camp they attended. I remember them well as students and I praise the Lord for the way that raises up leaders to serve in the church.
[I’m in the process of collecting all the schedules from past retreat and compiling them. If you’d like to talk about ideas for a retreat for your church, contact me. I’d be happy to share them with you. email@example.com / 618-667-6241 ext 14]