How to Make Your Winter Retreat Deeper than a “Fun Weekend”

Who doesn’t love a good winter retreat? It’s that mid-year pick-me-up for ministries across the country. Just like summer camp, winter retreats are stellar ways to bring new people into your ministry, encourage your group and group leaders, and be more intentional with students. However, in the quest to have The Best Winter Retreat Your Kids Will Love EVER, we understand that it can spiral out of hand quickly. 

Here are a few reminders that less is more when it comes to intentionally leading this year’s retreat:

Keep the ‘main thing’ the main thing

With both winter retreats and summer camps, it’s tempting to shove in 20 different biblical principles into one weekend. Sometimes that’s due to the pressure of investing in these events so you want to maximize what you say. Other times, it gets chaotic because you’re trying to address a variety of real-world issues at once. 

Take a step back. Breathe. Get together with the area churches joining your DNow or winter retreat. Find a singular theme, and then spend the whole weekend unpacking that truth and how it’s applied to your students’ lives. They’ll remember it with improved clarity. 

Use activities more strategically

When planning a winter retreat, remember this acronym: DF2DB — Don’t forget to debrief. 

(We didn’t totally just make that up…)

Retreats are a fantastic place to play your biggest and best games, but giving students time to reflect will likely be more fruitful than the biggest hide-and-seek game in history. Students can get so caught up in the gameplay that they lose sight of the actual meaning behind them. Create the right space and environment by ensuring that group leaders know to debrief. Ideally, these debriefs tie back into the overall theme of the week. 

Keep small group time at a focus

Listen, we’re not knocking large sessions. Those main sessions with a guest speaker are incredible and can expose students to new ideas about scripture and ministry. But the real power from the weekend comes in small group sessions. Speakers don’t inherently change lives; small groups investing in each other and holding each other accountable do. Spend time in small groups diving deeper into what was shared by a guest speaker and tie those lessons to what’s going on within your ministry or in your students’ lives. 

“Now Uth Stuph, there y’all go talking about ministry again.” Yeah, yeah, we’re aware. But student ministry is a huge part of who we are as a t-shirt company. While we can’t magically create a curriculum for your event, we can give y’all some incredible quality custom group shirts and an understanding of what y’all are doing. Give us a call at 800-242-9166 or fill out this form to learn more about how we can help!