We all need encouragement. Retreats often provide a great opportunity for spiritual renewal and foster an environment for encouragement. Not every event lends itself to set times for encouragement, but if yours does, consider incorporating an activity that allows participants to encourage and be encouraged.Here are a few ideas for encouragement activities you can do at your next retreat:
- A Pat on the Back: Tape a piece of paper on each participant’s back. Have all the participants write an encouraging word describing that person on the paper with a marker. When everyone has written on each person’s back, they can take the paper off and spend a few moments reading what others wrote. (Note: this activity requires a little bit of space and light activity as participants walk around to write on each back.)
- Snapshot of Encouragement: This activity is similar to the one described above with a few twists. One-by-one, have each participant sit with his/her back to a dry-erase board. The other participants write a word describing that person on the board. When everyone has finished, take a photo of the person sitting in front of the dry-erase board and then erase it. After the retreat, print and mail or email these pictures to each participant. (Note: this activity takes a bit longer since each person goes one-by-one. You may need to divide your group into smaller numbers depending on your size.)
- Secret Messages: Before your retreat, write each participant’s name on a manila envelope. Hang these on a wall or bulletin board in a common area. Throughout your event, have participants write encouraging notes to each other on provided slips of paper, and place each of these notes in the corresponding envelopes. At the end of your retreat, give each participant his/her envelope. (Note: Announce this activity at the opening of your retreat so the participants will have ample time to write notes. Encourage each participant to write a note for everyone attending.)
These are just a few encouragement activities you can try at your next retreat. While these are designed for smaller events, you can adjust how these are implemented to accommodate larger groups. The easiest way to do this is to divide your group into smaller numbers. As an added bonus, these activities provide a tangible take-home for participants to remember the retreat. Make sure to include yourself (as the event planner) in this activity too! Even you can use a word of encouragement, especially in the hustle and bustle of your retreat.