Retreats and time away for student ministries are a delicate balance, because you are supposed to get away from your normal surroundings but provide wow factor and maintain the standards your group is used to. I was thinking that only medium and large sized church struggle with this but the truth is I have experienced this in small churches myself.
Many student ministries look at the balance of getting their group out of their environment, maintaining excellence, providing wow factor in programming, and take their groups to events like Dare to Share or Acquire the Fire. The reason I don’t like this is because you lose the local church feel of your time away, your traditions, your students up front, and your stories. You can have group time at these big events but in my experience while it is profitable it is something different than a retreat.
This winter for the 3rd year in a row Grace Church’s student ministries (HSM and The Zone) will be taking part in the Kalahari Retreat. You can get more information on kalahariretreat.com if you care. This retreat is something I have come to love because of its local church feel and what it offers my group.
We get to partner with some similar minded leaders and ministries, keep this event locally controlled for our desired outcome, but have critical mass for budget, numbers, and resources. What could be better. I think more student ministries who are already doing their own retreats away should look to partner with 2-5 other groups and see what you can pull off that would be great for your group. We pull in better speakers, technology, facilities (the world’s largest indoor waterpark), speakers, bands, and more while still maintaing involvement and input into what this weekend looks like.
It might be my desired goal for time away/retreats, and where my group is at, and the guys I am blessed to partner with, but I wouldn’t change one thing about what we have going. We have a meeting coming up to firm up some more thematic/direction things for this year with all the involved youth workers and groups at the end of September. I am pumped for this year’s retreat to take place. If you are in Ohio and want to be involved shoot me a comment or check out the website. I would love to see others as happy as I am.
I actually didn’t hatch the idea for this retreat and just jumped on the coattails of some smart guys. That is why I can wholeheartedly ask you to do it too:)