By Matt Brubaker |

Four Keys to a Dynamic School Retreat

Do you want a chance to cut through the student cliques in your hallways?

Have you wondered how to get your students more focused on the things that matter rather than the “he said she said” chatter or the latest gossip that has hit the lockers this week? The real question is this…

How you can strip away the fog to get to the heart of the issues facing your students?

For years camps have offered outdoor education as a great fun and educational excuse for getting students out of the classroom, out of the halls and away from some of that fog that guards their heart issues. Outdoor education, camp activities and team building simply aren’t enough to make lasting change. What students need is to meet Jesus while they’re outside the walls and windows of the classroom. Here are some suggestions to make sure your next retreat strips away the fog and allows your students to refocus on the only one who can make dynamic change.

Choose a program not an amusement ride.

There are a lot of facilities out there that will try to get you in the door on their zip line, canopy tour or laser tag activities. They also offer lodging and meals as well but none of these things are tied together with a purpose and they leave you still administrating the details of where, what and when. It comes down to whether or not you want to center your trip on an activity or the spiritual needs of the students.

Choose a program that has a unified philosophy for all they do for you.

Your school’s retreat shouldn’t be just a bunch of activities, meals, and classes that just happen and then everyone shrugs their shoulders and goes home. Just like in your classes at school your teachers are supposed to integrate a Christian worldview into their classes. A philosophically driven Outdoor Education program also integrates a Christian worldview into classes, activities and even meals!

Make sure there’s a take-home manual.

A printed piece your students can reflect on, answer questions in or even doodle on can act as a reminder to them about what they learned during their retreat. It also shows that the program you’ve chosen isn’t just something that’s been thrown together by the camp or facility but has been planned diligently with great forethought and intentionality.

Free yourself up to be with your students.

If you’re paying for a program you should get a program. Choose a program that you can step away from. Let the program providers run the announcements, meals and even chapel times. Obviously you may still need to bring parent chaperones or staff to supervise the students but what’s coming next on the schedule shouldn’t be your burden.

What about you? Do you have retreat planning strategies that have helped you in the past? I would love to hear them and share them.

If so feel free to email me.

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