Planning a Retreat?

IMG_8739Planning a retreat sounds like a lot of fun. It might even be something that you're interested in. There are some things to keep in mind when planning and facilitating a retreat that will help the process run as smoothly as possible. I recently co-facilitated my first retreat ever. We walked, talked, flew, stretched, biked, SUPed, snorkeled, laughed, cried, meditated, ate turkey and drank wine. Here are some tips from my experience to help any of  you in the process of planning your own. Be willing. “You’ve got to be willing to show up and suck before you can show up and shine,” says Baron Baptiste in 40 Days to Personal Revolution. Be courageous and start looking up places and spaces. Be willing to expose your vulnerabilities, and create a space for others to do the same. Show up fully for your participants because after all, the retreat is for them. Co-host.IMG_8875 I had the great fortune to sit beside Laine D’Souza during Level II in Tulum. We hit it off instantly, and when the idea to host a retreat came up, we just knew it was meant to be. Planning, facilitating and debriefing with a partner gives you more insight and flavor than if you go in alone. Be flexible. Being type A, I had created spreadsheets, schedules, even color coded tables. But on the first day of the retreat, it rained. Hard. The schedule washed away with the rainwater - for real - and the retreat went on. I am not suggesting getting rid of a schedule altogether. But, you have to be ready for anything. We facilitated what we thought the group wanted, but later discovered, that there were some pieces missing. We took out some parts of the plan completely. The parts of our plan that we sensed the group actually needed, we kept. Be spontaneous.IMG_8615 Leave room for spontaneity. We had planned for a bike ride to the pyramids, but left it until right before to rent bikes. We ended up with two breakless bikes, two with baby seats, and one that we rented off a construction worker on the way to the pyramids. It made for hilarious adventure. Be aware. Research your location/accommodation well in advance. If there are testimonials, even better. We hosted in beautiful - and expensive - Tulum.  Although the location was pristine and full of soul, it was pricey and our house wasn’t exactly as we imagined. Some additional research would have allowed us to communicate more accurately with our crew. Be clear. Since it’s your retreat, you get to help create the atmosphere. If wine is a no-no, let your participants know up front. On the other hand, if wine is a yes-yes, let them know. Explain any house rules and guidelines ahead of time so that moments of vulnerability and possible tensions are avoided altogether. IMG_8855 Be FUN. I remember reading once, somewhere, that the things we liked to do as children are the same things we enjoy as adults. So do handstands on the beach, rent kayaks or bikes, explore, play games, sing songs loudly, and leave love for your participants. Have a sense of humor, look for fun and you will indeed find it.    
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