Plan a retreat that works for you. Whether for hobby or business, a retreat should be planned specifically with your group in mind. No retreat is exactly the same and while there are general guidelines to follow when planning a successful retreat, the end outcome needs to be something that is as unique as the group you are bringing. There are plenty of helpful resources out there and professionals who will try to “guide” you to exactly what you need. However, the right professional will sit down and listen to what your hopes, goals, and aspirations are for hosting your retreat. In this discussion you should also be asked what your groups personality is, how are they as individuals and what activities will best suit them as a whole.
You cannot simply look at the big picture. Going into this you may have an end goal of building team working skills or creating bonds, or to learn more about your group and what they need…and that’s great! However, you first need to consider what kind of retreat will help you reach that goal, successfully and to a degree that everyone truly got what they came to the retreat for. You may be inclined to follow the trends and without considering your groups morale, book an adventured packed retreat; or just the opposite, assume no one would want those activities and schedule endless seminar exercises that provide no break in sight. Why not take a survey among your group? Bring up the exciting idea of hosting a retreat and and what you want to accomplish out of it. Ask them how they would like to learn, participate or engage in the retreat. Get a mutual understanding of the individual likes and dislikes and plan your retreat from there.
Don’t “force” your group to engage in extreme activities if they won’t respond well and will put up a block because of it. At the same time, don’t “force” them into more conferences and seminars that make them feel they are in the same everyday atmosphere only in different surroundings. Allow them to stretch, be creative and let their true selves shine. Sit down with a professional planner, like us, and determine the best schedule for your retreat and a plan of action for seeing it through. Research and studies have shown a high percentage of positive retreat outcomes from those who have put the time into customizing their retreat needs and listening to those participating. Providing options for learning and team building allowed for higher spirits from the participants. They provide a combination of indoor and outdoor, calming and high energy activities. They compiled an acceptable amount of “learning” time with “free” time to allow them to absorb the info needed while also expressing themselves apart from the standard environment. You can’t fill every second of your retreat with mandatory to-dos and expect your attendees to leave feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next thing. Establish a healthy balance of what’s required of them and when they are free to be.
When left to rhome, people will have the tendency to find others and engage in natural conversation apart from their usual environment. Studies have shown they actually build stronger relationships and some teaming building skills when left to their own devices. When you have the opportunity to speak with someone, stress free, with no deadlines, and unrelated to any common factors you have an open mind to learn more about them (as a person). This can result in unexpected relationships and a better understanding of a persons skills that the everyday communication may not have presented otherwise.
In the end, what makes a retreat successful is the individuals who participated and what they walked away with. Take another survey when you’ve returned and get honest feedback of what they liked, disliked, would have wanted to do, and suggestions. Take those into deep consideration when planning your next retreat to make it work for you!