10 Steps to Planning a Retreat

Craig Emerson | Pali Mountain

Planning a retreat is hard work with many challenges, doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve compiled an easy 10 step list to make the planning and execution as easy as possible.

1. Why Have a Retreat?

Organizing and hosting a group retreat can be on e of the most meaningful ways to create long term value for your organization. Groups come for a variety of reasons, but the experiences usually have some things in common:making memories, meeting friends, strengthening relationships, learning and growth.

2. Where do we go?

Choosing the right location is vital to the success of your retreat. It is important to determine what you want from your retreat before booking a site. Considerations include accommodations, food service, meetings space, activities, price, interaction with other groups, and available staff. It is always a good idea to take a tour prior to booking the retreat. Also, be aware of the facility’s reservation policies.

3. Who is in the Group?

Make sure that you are aware of the dynamics of your group. Individuals develop throughout their lives,: physically, spiritually, and emotionally. When planning a retreat program or activity for a group, keep in mind the levels of development within your group. This will affect how group members respond to your programming and how they interact with each other.

4. Group Goals

It is important to identify goals for your retreat during the planning process. What is it that you want your group members to achieve, experience or aspire to during the retreat?  Remember to consider the group dynamics in setting your goals. You may also want to address educational topics for your group.

5. Retreat Theme

Coming up with a theme that incorporates your goals will give you a master design to follow with the rest of your planning steps. A simple approach to choosing a theme could be a topic that your group needs to address. Have the theme be a focal point of all programs and activities allows it to be more relevant and memorable.  Be sure to stick to the theme throughout the entire retreat.

6. Group Activities

Activities are integral to a successful retreat. Activities allow you to break up lectures, study time, workshops and presentations, and get folks moving. Activities can be as simple as a hike in the woods or as complex as a high challenge ropes course. Be sure to ask about restrictions, waivers, equipment needs, appropriate dress, and other requirements when booking activities., and share those needs in your group’s packing list.

7. Staffing

What supervision do you need for your group? How many volunteers, chaperones, or other leaders will you need for your event? Also, ask the facility what staff they provide.

8. Accommodations/Food

Remember to consider your meetings space and technology needs, sleeping areas and arrangements, eating space, and any requirements for your planned activities. Will the food be provided at the location you have chosen?  What dietary needs do your group members require and can your retreat facility accommodate those requirements?  Be sure to discuss your needs ahead of time with your retreat facility.

9. Take Care of You

Delegate, delegate, delegate! Trying to plan an entire retreat on your own is an exhausting prospect. Start your planning early in order to account for unforeseen challenges along the way. Find volunteers and form a committee who are willing to commit to helping with the planning and/or running the event.

10. Conclusion

Be sure to ask; “What is the total cost of my event at the location of your choice?” Are there any additional costs or unforeseen charges? Taking the time to plan your event ahead of time will ensure that you and your staff will spend less time worrying about details during the event itself. When expectations are met, everyone has a much more positive experience!


About Pali Retreat –

More than just a beautiful location, Pali Retreat is dedicated to creating a personalized retreat for your group. Our expert-led outdoor adventures are planned by qualified, attentive staff and tailored to meet your needs. Our conference center is perfect for groups of all types, from small group gatherings of a few dozen people to full corporate retreats.  We have over a decade of retreat planning experience and are ready to assist you in creating the perfect retreat.