How to Get the Most Out of a Retreat

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The Chi Alpha at UVA Fall Retreat is this weekend at beautiful Eagle Eyrie. Whenever a retreat rolls around, I go through a mental checklist to prepare my introverted self for everything that is about to happen. Here are some helpful hints and preparation pieces to get the most out of your retreat experience.

I just want you to enjoy the retreat as much as Emma enjoyed that Sno-Cone.

1. Embrace the Community. I mean micro and macro community. More than likely you came on the retreat with your Core Group. Embrace them. Love them. Get to know them. But also get to know the entire community. Make new friends. Submit yourself to the community. I believe the community of God can do a beautiful work in a person’s life if they’ll submit to it. Yeah, they maybe wouldn’t be the friends you’d pick, but they’re probably better.

2. Go to Sessions. I’m always surprised by people who sign up for retreats, pay money for retreats, and then don’t attend any of the sessions. This is silly and interesting stewardship. Attend the sessions not only to get your money’s worth but to be with the community and to learn throughout the weekend.

3. Don’t Over Promise Yourself on the Content. Yes, go to the sessions. No, don’t think that every session is going to change your life every time. It’s just not possible nor is it healthy. I often go on a retreat or to a conference and hope for one takeaway or one thing to think about. If I get more than that, that’s great, but there’s definitely at least one thing I can learn every time I hear from someone new.

4. Pack the Right Stuff. If you need bedding, pack bedding. If there is a field to play sports on, bring sports equipment. There’s nothing worse than sleeping with a T shirt as your blanket or sitting around doing nothing when there’s free time. Plan accordingly.

5. Do Out of the Normal Stuff. Yes, stupid stuff counts. A retreat is a chance to get away from everything of the normal life and to have some fun. Do things you wouldn’t normally do. Buy a costume. Prank a neighbor. Worship in a way you may not be comfortable yet. Talk to someone who isn’t like you.

6. Go With the Flow. Don’t get so uptight about schedules and times and everything. Go with the flow. If there’s a change, roll with it. It’s not that big of a deal and planning and entire weekend isn’t as easy as you may think it is. 

Are there any tips that I’m missing? What say you?

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