It was a beautiful June afternoon a BBQ was planned.  Except only church leaders showed up and no regular church members.  If this was your church BBQ, you as a leader would be freaking out, discouraged, wondering what went wrong.  But this is a HAVEN BBQ and it was awesome!  

We ate and shared and laughed about all of the terrible retreat actives we planned in the past.  We also gave each other some decent ideas as well. 

this is by far the best BBQ I’ve been to today!
— unknown

Here are the notes from our discussions.

Memorable Retreat Experiences:


- A good foundation was formed for building the group dynamics

- People came together

- No one was left unattended, everyone was included and there was clear result from that intention.


- Everyone took time out of their busy lives to actually think about Christianity

- Students met Jesus


- People who attended the retreat carried out what was experienced there beyond the retreat time

- Goal and purpose of the retreat was achieved

- Seeing worship leader being passionate

- Not having phones, not knowing the time, and not worrying about the outside world

Negative Retreat Experiences:

- Retreat was based on emotion only and there was no true intimacy with Christ

- The program and schedule was perfect but Jesus was absent throughout

- Kids running out in the woods/sneaking out

- Location had no AC because research on venue was inadequate

- After a good message someone killed the mood

- Students got hurt during games


Importance and Benefits of Events:


- Forces people to be together and nobody has an excuse to do things by themselves

- Group dynamics start forming that carry over outside of the retreat


- Events can be leveraged to be used as catalyst to experience God

- Gathering together gives students time to pray and have intimacy with God


Good Retreat Activities:

- Quiet Time: Allows for a time of silence so students can reflect and think

- Journaling and Fasting

- Write letters to themselves and send it to them later

- Outreach: There are usually great testimonies that come out of outreach activities that will last the student a life time. What's important for outreach is making sure that you take time to train people before you send them out. What to say to people and how to approach people would be something you want to train those participating in the outreach in.

- Worst activity that you could have is one that boxes students in and they are unable to think for themselves

General Tips and Advice:


- Make waiver forms

- Form security teams to patrol


- Thoroughly research the retreat venue beforehand to make sure they have appropriate accommodations

- Too much time can be spent on the small details (games, events, materials). Make sure the focus of the retreat is never lost.

- Make sure prayer for the retreat during preparation is a priority


Recommended Retreat Venues:

- Woodland Christian :

- WhiteWater Express :

- Ocoee Retreat Center :

- Camp Bethel :

- Camp Glisson :

- Lake Junaluska :

- Ocean/Beach Florida