We are having a retreat this weekend and I thought about all of the mistakes I have made and thought I would share from my mishaps.
Mistake #1: Poor Planning
This is where I am at right now so I am having to catch–up a little. But lucky for me I have wonderful parents who do the bulk of the planning so a lot of times I simply show up. But seriously, be a details oriented guy. Have you handed out schedules? Have you informed parents of times, money and items to bring? Have you made sure to study for the lessons? Is the bus filled up? Did you remember to pay for the retreat facilities?
Whoops… be right back!
Did you plan the games for the kids? Cover the details but…
Mistake #2: Too Much Planning
I am not sure what your idea of a retreat is supposed to be but I have met youth ministers who spend so much time planning, implementing, and packing the schedule full that they can hardly enjoy the weekend. I wasted endless amounts of time finding the right PowerPoint background, the right video illustration, the best game or whatever. A kid is not going to come up to you a week after the retreat and say, “Dude, that poster you made three weeks before the retreat really hooked me. I love that graphic design and the helvetica font.” A caution about scheduling, less is more at a retreat. I know you think teenagers need something to do every hour but they don’t. Let them sleep in a little, take a nap if they want, go for a walk if they need or make up a dumb game if they choose. It is a retreat.
Mistake #3: Not letting someone go who wants to go at the last minute.
“Sorry our bus is full!”
“Sorry the sign-ups were clearly posted and the deadline was in bold, italics and even in helvetica font !!!”
If the bus is full get a parent to drive. If they can’t come down until late then find someone to drive late. If they need to leave early then make it happen as long as they are there. I used to be a grumbler about this and lament about how this messes the schedule up. As long as people are there it will be ok.
Mistake #4: Doing it all yourself
Don’t do this. You’re dumb if you do. Seriously. Quit being an idiot and involve your students to take leadership and plan parts of the retreat. Get off your high-horse, holier-than-thou attitude and empower the parents to take ownership. Don’t believe me? That’s fine but expect a crappy retreat where you are grumpy and the kids and the parents will hate it. Plus you will burn out and quit anyways. Don’t do that.
Mistake #5: Not following up
Remember that girl who poured her life out to you at retreat but you never saw her again? That’s because you didn’t follow up. Call students. Ask parents how things went. Talk with your group about how to make things better. Find new ways to recruit people for the next retreat. Please follow-up.
What would you add?