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Complex Thoughts

Planning an Organizational Retreat

IDENTIFY WHY YOUR ORGANIZATION SHOULD HAVE A RETREAT/WORKSHOP

Organization retreats and workshops enable student organizations to briefly get away from the distractions of school and work and to focus on the needs of the organization and the needs of the individual members of the organization. Planning for the future will enable an organization to operate more efficiently. By setting goals and planning together, members of an organization can operate more effectively as a team.

ASSESS THE NEEDS OF THE GROUP

What are the goal for those attending the retreat? Participants should know why they are there and what they are expected to accomplish. Possible goals might include team-building, problem solving, socializing, training, planning, transition, communication, learning, revitalizing, goal setting, and developing a sense of community.

DETERMINE THE COST OF HOLDING A RETREAT AND
HOW IT WILL BE FUNDED

Prepare a budget that covers such costs as: facility rental, meals, refreshments, supplies, lodging, and transportation. How is the retreat going to be funded? Does your organization have funds designated for retreats? Do you need to fundraise or ask members to pay a fee to help cover costs? Maybe seek sponsorship?

TAKE CARE IN SELECTING THE RETREAT SITE

How long is the retreat going to last? Do you need to arrange overnight lodging? Do you want it on campus (where it is potentially less expensive and more convenient) or off campus (where it is more isolated and easier to get everybody's full attention)? Possible locations are local camps (Camp Manitou, Beaver Creak Reserve), hotels, parks, a member's house (permanent or local), Davies Center or other campus facilities.

DEVELOP MEMBER OWNERSHIP IN THE RETREAT

People are naturally inclined to support what they help create. Establish Committees to work on various aspects of the retreat. Form committees to handle transportation, food, recreation, site logistics, agenda, speaker, and clean-up. By involving members in the planning and implementation of a retreat, you are more likely to ensure its success.

PLAN THE AGENDA

To ensure a smooth retreat, make sure every aspect of your agenda is planned ahead of time, even free time. What workshops and/or exercises are you going to include? Determine order and length of time for all events. This should be given to people before the retreat so people know what to expect.

TAKE CARE IN CHOOSING FACILITATORS

Who could best facilitate at your retreat? Who has the qualifications to share the information you want covered? Facilitators can be advisors, officers, members, or outside people. In addition to specific expertise, a facilitator should have the ability to assess a situation, be able to listen carefully, be respected by the group, and be concerned about the group.

EVALUATE THE RETREAT

You should always conduct an evaluation at the conclusion of a retreat. Ask members what they thought of the experience. What would they change? What would they keep the same? Include closure activities as part of your wrap-up and to help participants review what they have learned or accomplished.

HELPFUL HINTS

  • Use candy or other treats to help encourage participation and to reward participants for accomplishments.
  • Build in free time for participants so they can have opportunities to have fun and relax.
  • Build in times for small group discussions.
  • Create teams to take care of room set-ups, meal preparations, and clean-up.
  • Be prepared to be flexible. The agenda won't always go as planned — you may need to add a break or an energizer to refresh participants. Also, some activities may take more or less time than planned.
  • Consider alternatives to cookies, chips, and soda when providing refreshments, such as juice, fruit, bagels, etc.
  • Provide participants with information on what they should bring to the retreat (notebooks, sleeping bags, toiletries, etc.) and what to wear.

 

SAMPLE RETREAT SCHEDULE

UW-Eau Claire Underwater Basketweaving Club: Organization Retreat

What to Bring

  • Sleeping bag & pillow
  • Towels & personal toiletries
  • Clothes that can get dirty
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • A hat of any kind
  • Your imagination!
       

Travel Information

We will meet in front of Davies Center on Saturday at 8 a.m. We will return to campus at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Agenda


DAY ONE

8:00 am  >  Depart Davies Center
8:45 am
  >  Arrive at Beaver Creek Reserve and unpack
9:00 am
  >  Ropes Course — team building
Noon
  >  Build your own sandwich lunch
1:00 pm
  >  Icebreaker
1:15 pm
  >  Creativity Exercise
3:00 pm
  >  Free time
4:30 pm
  >  Pizza Bake
5:30 pm
  >  Sing for your supper — wear your hat
6:15 pm
  >  Free time (except for clean-up crew)
6:45 pm
  >  Energizer
7:00 pm
  >  Team Win Lose or Draw and Pictionary
8:30 pm
  >  Free time, campfire, goodnight

DAY TWO

8:30 am  >  Breakfast
9:00 am
  >  Nature walk
10:00 am
  >  Communication Exercise
11:00 am
  >  “The Basketweaving Tradition” by Woody Birch, local artist
Noon
  >  Lunch
1:30 pm
  >  Goal setting and action planning for the year
4:00 pm
  >  Thank yous, pack-up to leave

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.