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How To Plan An Event

10 Quick and Effective Keys to Successful Retreats for Leaders

1. Start Planning Early: We recommend making reservations between six months and one year in advance. Involve some of the proposed participants in setting goals and planning activities. Youth, families, officers, teachers, singles, couples, etc. know their own needs and can be the best recruiters. Select your first, second and perhaps third choice of dates.

2. Knowing the Facilities: Visit the site with some or all of your planning team. The setting will suggest many ideas. One of the Rockfish staff will be happy to give you a tour and brainstorm program ideas with you.

3. Identify Your Purpose or Goal: What is the purpose of your retreat/event or what do you what your participants to take home with them? What issues or subjects will be addressed during the retreat/ event? What will be gained by attending your retreat/ event?

4. Planning Activities: Make sure planned activities fit your purpose or goal. If time for personal reflection is needed, schedule accordingly. If improving cooperation and communication are the objectives, you may want to arrange some time on our Group Challenge Course.

5. Expectations: What expectations do you have of your participants? Rockfish has a set of expectations (Agreements and Policies) for all of our guests. Please go over our expectations of guests with your leaders and participants before your arrival and don't forget to communicate your expectations. Upon arrival at the Center, a staff person will go over some of the agreements with your group, please have a time in your schedule for that purpose.

6. Budgeting: Budget carefully. Your budget should include such items as:

a. Overnight costs, food, snacks and other services. Please remember to call the center four (4) weeks prior to your reservation date to confirm the reservation and to give the number that will be attending your retreat/event, please be as accurate a possible. Please notify us at this time of any special requests such as dietary or program needs. No changes should be made less than four (4) weeks prior to your arrival.

b. Honorarium, expenses for outside leadership and program suppliers.

c. Give-a-ways (Some groups give special caps, bandannas, or tee shirts as mementos of the retreat.)

d. Add 10% for unexpected expenses or for seed money for the next retreat.

e. Set fees accordingly.

f. Determine and communicate your policies about refunds and cancellations.

7. Promotion: Promote the event by direct communication with the people who will benefit from attending the retreat. Well in advance:

a. Line up people to call and invite potential participants.

b. Handout and mail out invitations with reservation forms with a cutoff date of acceptance. You may want your cutoff date prior to the center's two-week confirmation of your reservation and numbers.

c. Announce the retreat until all spaces are full.

d. Prepare a fun promotional skit for an assembly, church supper or worship.

8. Resources: Start gathering resources early and continue right up to the event. There will likely be surprises (like bad weather for example) during the retreat so plan to be flexible but don't lose sight of the purpose or goal.

9. Creativity: Be creative with your programs but maintain some traditions that are meaningful to all participants.

10. Evaluation: Prepare an evaluation process. How well was the purpose or goal met? What was especially meaningful? Start planning for the next retreat for this group, perhaps even make reservations before you leave.

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