A retreat usually consists of a collection of activities, experiences, performances, teaching, prayers, sacraments, games, and so forth. In order to hold all the pieces together, retreat themes are helpful, but the theme of a retreat is not designed to guide the flow of a retreat. A good retreat will follow a flow that moves from presenting to engaging, to experiencing, to imagining something renewed. Below are just four of the nine ways a good retreat will flow. The complete and detailed work, How to Build a Retreat, will arrive in the months ahead.
Presenting involves the introduction of a story, theme, teaching, or topic, and takes place throughout a retreat, as you introduce new topics and stories. Presenting consists of three components: what you want to present, how you want to present it, and the invitation for the retreatants to respond.
Naming allows young people to name their experiences and realities related to what is being presented. Like presenting, how young people name is very important. Naming may be expressed through writing, physical action, artwork, acting, small group sharing, and so forth. Naturally, naming involves personal reflection and private moments to ponder, write and/or create, but then naming also involves a sharing or displaying (if it’s a creative project) in public space.
Experiencing involves the creation of an interactive and engaging activity, designed to facilitate a felt connection between young people and a scripture story or theme. Experiencing can be a fun/active activity (like an obstacle course), the recreation of a scripture story (inserting young people into the story), or a deep reflective experience (like a reconciliation service).
Celebrating involves a joyful experience that celebrates the fact that our youth have endured and engaged a salvific process. Celebrating is the natural conclusion to having completed a task, endured an obstacle course, or completed an inspiring retreat.
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