One of the best parts of attending a men’s retreat is the teambuilding that can be accomplished as a result of the event. So let me encourage you to get the most out of the event, by giving you seven hints for teambuilding as you attend the retreat.
The truth is, there are wrong people to bring. Anyone who will isolate themselves or skip the sessions is the wrong person to bring. Someone whose health cannot take the elevation of Williams, is the wrong person to bring. Bringing kids who will not participate with the men is also a bad idea. It’s not so much about their age as their attitude. In general, a kid who goes intending to be close to his father will be fine, but a kid who thinks being with adult men is lame and refuses to participate will hinder everyone else. Even worse a child that spends the weekend crying for momma, will rob the whole cabin of their camp experience.
A good guideline to use when bringing people, kids or adults, is this. If they will hold the attitude that they are going as a man, participating with men, and can tolerate men’s topics then they will be fine.
- Carpool and loosely caravan to and from the event
By carpooling you will make the trip more economical and will save some stress parking. The camp has limited spaces. But more importantly you will also begin the camaraderie in the car. To make this possible consider your drivers carefully. Pick men who are friendly, conversant, and also try to pick those with big roomy vehicles. Then don’t pack the cars full. Several hours shoulder to shoulder is not relaxing. A long drive, with the room to spread out and the attitude that it’s okay to have snacks, is much more relaxing and conducive to fellowship.
You are likely to have somebody who refuse to go, unless they can take their own car. As long as they fit the description in the first point above, let them go in their own vehicle if they wish. If their timing allows, have them meet you in Williams. If they have to arrive later, let them, but be sure to have the group welcome them when they do arrive.
- Schedule a relaxing afternoon around Williams
This time in the pines is how we intentionally get out of ‘valley mode’ and to get into ‘mountain mode’. For our retreats we generally leave about 9:00 am. We stop at a truck stop in Kingman and stock up on coffee, donuts, and stretch. This means arriving in Williams right around noon. We always go to Pine Country Inn for lunch because they are famous for their wide variety of pies. Then we go to a local lake for several hours, generally picking the one most recently trout stocked. Only a few of the men will fish, the remaining ones will walk, talk, nap, and generally unwind.
Registration opens at 4:00 pm. We pick our bunks and put the luggage in the room before going back to Williams for dinner. Generally back to the same restaurant and everyone that skipped pie earlier gets a piece now. Then back to camp by 7:00 pm for the first session. Remember there is a snack at 10:00 that night, but if you want dinner you have to eat it before first session.
On the way home, we eat lunch together, sometimes in Williams, other times in Seligman. At this point we are still in carpools, but we loosen up on the caravan idea. Some of the men will be anxious to get home and less interested in stopping.
- Intentionally sit together at meal times and in worship
We laugh about the way that Baptists eat, but the truth is that sharing meals together creates a bond, that is why potlucks are so valuable to a church. The same is true of worshipping together. If you bring a group to the retreat and they don’t do these two most basic unity building activities together, you are missing your greatest potential for teambuilding moments. The fact that both are open seating means you will have to strategize some to make it work out. Generally your best bet is if the group is already growing in unity and therefore walk to these events together.
- Consider adding something just for your group
At every retreat we did something that was just us. With my guys, it is often food related like a Dairy Queen run on Saturday night. For other groups it might be a morning devotional under the pines, or a rock skipping contest on the lake. That time to do something with just your guys is valuable, it will allow the men to feel like your church had a customized experience.
Cabin time is a planned part of the retreat when the men gather in small groups to digest and discuss what they are learning and experiencing. Every year, every man that went with us, lists cabin time as their favorite part of the event. They talk about it more than the zip line, the hot tub, the speakers, and the fancy coffee. I notice some of the churches rush through cabin time, or skip it all together, perhaps because men can be very uncomfortable with this communication. But when it is well done, it is the chance for the men to get honest, make decisions and grow. Cabin time is so important that the next video I hope to produce will be about how to make the most of cabin time.
Also depending on your group, you might want to cheat a little. If your group is not too large make it a time for all the guys for your church to be together. Perhaps that will mean gathering together your guys in one room although they filled two. Or it might mean stepping outside with a smaller group so that your conversation will be with just your men. If you have a larger group, plan who will lead each cabin in their cabin time and don’t let the individual groups be more than about twenty men.
- Plan a reporting time after the event
My church has an evening service and is small enough that we can be somewhat informal. Because of these factors we have a pattern that on Sunday night after returning from camp the men who are available each take turns talking about their experiences. This helps solidify them as a group, helps them to digest the lessons learned, and it helps the entire church body be more excited about the camp experience. In fact it is a great tool to make more men want to go the next year. Doing this reporting as soon as possible makes it more effective because the excitement and memories are still strong.