Planning Guides for Your Retreat
Persons and groups retreat for many reasons—to rest, to heal, to learn, and to grow. Time apart in beautiful, welcoming landscapes restores and renews us. Experiencing solitude; taking time to meditate, reflect, and write; re-connecting with coworkers, friends, and family in a relaxing atmosphere: these experiences happen at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center. As you plan your retreat, we encourage you to take time to set intentions, craft your schedule, and choose retreat activities with care.
Setting Your Intentions
Set clear intentions for your retreat ahead of time and then review those intentions at the start of your retreat. Ask yourself and your group members these types of questions:
What do we most need during this retreat?
What are we longing for?
What are our hopes for this retreat?
What do we want to learn?
At the end of your retreat, take time to return to the intentions you set:
Which ones did we keep?
Which ones did we alter?
Did something new or unexpected arise for us individually or as a group?
Crafting Your Schedule
Retreats have a certain rhythm marked by time alone and time together and by a flow of inward (reflective) activities, interactive (collective) activities, and rest. The type of retreat (e.g., contemplative, silent, themed, or team-building) as well as personal and communal intentions for the retreat ought to shape your retreat agenda and determine the type of balance needed among various activities. Including time to “do nothing” helps restore us in body, mind, and spirit.
Retreats are frequently structured in relation to the natural rhythms of day and night as well. When creating an agenda for your retreat, pay particular attention to waking and sleeping. Schedule time for quiet connection to self, to the divine, to nature upon waking. Consider what kinds of reflection will help you and others unwind at the end of a full day as well as what might facilitate a restful night’s sleep.
Choosing Retreat Activities
We recommend that you include a variety of activities during your retreat that, taken together, both align with your intentions and contribute to wholistic wellbeing (care of body, heart, mind; care of others; and care of the earth, for instance). Consider practices such as worship, prayer, contemplation, meditation, silence, journaling, reading, crafting, hiking, and relaxing in the whirlpool. Most of these can be included on your own; other activities might best be facilitated by a trainer, for example, a yoga class or spiritual direction session. Who might you want to invite to support your retreat?
You might ponder questions like these when choosing your retreat activities:
What are our most significant needs right now?
What practices/activities will contribute our spiritual needs? Emotional needs? Intellectual needs? Physical needs? Relational needs?
Which retreat center amenities appeal to our hopes for this time away?
What kind of offerings are available from retreat center staff?
What other outside resources are available for our group?
What can individual group members offer to one another? Or, what gifts do we bring to share with each other?