If you’ve never planned a retreat for college age people, or just want to search for some ‘fresh’ ideas (which may or may not be the case for you here), I will be doing a series of blog posts on that will hopefully help out a bit. Â So, I thought I would start with 2 sort of obvious things first…with a bit ofÂ wisdomÂ [that term is used loosely] I’ve learned from making some major mistakes:
Tip #1: Do few and do them well.Â
Iâ€™m a firm believer in doing a few things in our ministries and doing those things well. Trying to do too many events will inevitably cause all to lose their impact. In my opinion, just putting a bunch of things on a calendar can, and often is, detrimental to the ministry. Â Pick a couple things you do annually and make these the trips. Â Make them big and things nobody could refuse!
Tip #2: Keep the cost down.Â
College-age people arenâ€™t exactly known to have a ton of extra money laying around. Everything has a cost, but there are some things that can help. For instance, for our Utah trip we offered different packages. We offered a base package that included transportation, lodging, meals and some activities ($210). We had a separate package that included a one-day lift ticket, another for two days, and a third package for a three-day lift ticket. The base amount was pretty low which allowed people that couldnâ€™t afford much to still be a part of the trip. There are all kinds of things you can do to try to keep the cost down, but offering different packages is a great and simple way to do that. You can also:
â€¢ Plan your trip during weekdays if at all possible. We did our Utah trip during the winter break of school, so this was possible. This helped save a lot of money with the hotel and really helped keeping costs down.
â€¢ Ask the hotel about complimentary rooms for leaders. Most of the time they will give you free rooms and usually suites – which can be utilized for a number of different things.
â€¢ Offer payment plans. As soon as we started promoting the trip we let people know that we could place them on a payment plan. Of course this took some administrative work, but working out a monthly payment plan with people can be a great help. Some people, unfortunately, didnâ€™t end up paying their full amount. But this allowed for a lot of teachable moments tooâ€”that were priceless. Here are a few recommendations for this approach: (1) only offer them for the base amount, not things like lift tickets or other extraâ€™s, (2) have a minimum amount they have to pay before they go on the tripâ€”at least the cost of the deposit and preferably at least half the total price (3) develop a very short contract detailing the payment due dates and amounts between the church and the student.
â€¢Â Do fundraisers. If your church allows this, these can of course help.
â€¢ Seek sponsors. If there are older adults in your church that are already involved with college-age people consider asking them to sponsor a student or three. You can divide these amounts any way you want, but having people donate toward this cause can really help.
â€¢ Be wise. Some things arenâ€™t necessary to spend money onâ€”like fliers. With all the technology you can invite people, even have sign ups, in ways that donâ€™t cost money. Fliers arenâ€™t the issue, the issue is just thinking through ways you can do things that donâ€™t cost money. These small costs add up over time and many of them arenâ€™t necessary.
â€¢ Shop around. If you are checking out places to stay, make sure those places know youâ€™re also seeking pricing from others as well. If you find a better deal at one place go back to the other and let them know what they offered you. You might be surprised at how flexible they become.