What is a Retreat?
For purposes of this discussion, we’ve taken the liberty of rearranging the order of our six essential questions. Let’s approach the task of planning a retreat by first addressing the issue of “What?” The other five questions would be difficult to answer if we haven’t established precisely WHAT it is that we want to begin planning. OK, yes, it’s a retreat. But let’s drill down a little more.
A retreat is the act of withdrawing or backing away from responsibilities, a situation, or merely a day-to-day routine. This type of get-away allows those attending to avoid distraction and interruption, to be refreshed and to relax. It can facilitate a deeper understanding of self, of the retreat focus and of fellow participants. A change of scenery, a different environment and the sometimes-difficult act of letting go of everyday concerns—even for a day or two—can enable a healthy change in perspective. Retreating from the usual daily concerns grants the opportunity to free up the participant’s mind to think about other things.
As a retreat planner, if you’re looking to provide an escape from the office for the management team as they brainstorm about a new multi-million-dollar project, for example, then your retreat focus will be much different from that of the intrepid soul who sets out to offer a get-away for abused women, a Bible study group or a gaggle of quilt-makers.
So before going any further, it’s vital to do some serious thinking and determine the answer to the “What?” question: What will your participants expect? What do they need? What will be the retreat’s primary focus:
Instruction?…Work?…Inspiration?… A craft or skill?…Spiritual renewal?
There is no wrong answer; but there is precisely one RIGHT answer for each event. For your planning to be successful, choose your “What”—your focus—and move forward, concentrating on that single goal.