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How to Build an Awesome Custom Retreat for Your Group

With over 80 years of camping experience, we have put together some helpful tips that are sure to make your next custom retreat a success!

The Basics

We know planning a retreat can be a lot of work, but we're here to help. Take a look at these 3 essential steps to help prepare your retreat.

​These steps will help communicate your vision to our Guest Relations staff as they help coordinate all the necessary details to make your retreat successful. Thoughtfully go through the steps, and by the end, you'll be ready to make a reservation with the confidence that your group will experience everything you hoped would take place.

Step One: The Big Picture

The first question to ask yourself or your leadership team is, "What is the purpose of this retreat?"

Do you intend to do some activities to build group unity? Do you plan to lead an intense, introspective, solitary experience for your people? Or do you want a fun, activity-filled escape from daily life where you can reach non-believers in your group with the message of the gospel?

Knowing the demographic of the people you work with will be crucial here. Answering this question will influence how you determine what you want to accomplish with your retreat. Once you have your answer, you can move on to the next step.

Step Two: The Impact

The next step is to consider your theme and curriculum. This step takes a bit of time to develop, but for now, you just need to know the basics:

  • What is the main "message" of your retreat experience?

  • What is the primary goal you want all your participants to meet?

  • How would you define a successful retreat?​

​Once you figure out the theme, core curriculum, and main topics, you can move on to the next step.

Step Three: The Schedule

Once you know your purpose for the retreat and the subject matter, you can plan your schedule.

When it comes to building your schedule, there are essential questions EVERY GROUP at Thousand Pines needs to consider:

  • How long is your event? Will you need overnight housing?

  • How many meals will your group need?

  • How often will you meet, and what size of meeting space does your group require?

  • What activities do you want to include?


When planning an overnight event, you must consider what kind of housing you want.

We have several accommodations available for housing, from rustic tent-style camping to modest mid-grade cabin options. We also have Leadership Housing available for those VIPs you want to treat to a special room.

Look at our Guest Group Information Sheet or our lodging page, so you can best pick which housing options will suit your needs. Call us to see what housing we have available for your specific dates.


Even if your stay with us is only a few hours, you will most likely want to eat a meal. While you may make alternative arrangements, you can always enjoy a delicious meal with us!

Thousand Pines has a reputation for serving great food at extremely reasonable rates. We serve nutritious and well-rounded meals with drink stations, dietary options, and delicious desserts.

Your package will likely include a few meals depending on the length of your stay. Our meal times are subject to change, but we typically serve Breakfast at 8:00, Lunch at 12:00, and Dinner at 5:30.

Custom options are available, and with proper coordination with our Guest Relations staff, almost anything is possible! Click here to learn more about our dining hall.

Meeting Spaces

You'll likely be planning several meeting times for your group and possibly even break-out/workshop sessions. For those, you will need meeting spaces.

We have several meeting spaces available to meet the needs of your group. We have everything from large group meeting areas like Jensen Chapel (400 max) and our main Outdoor Amphitheater (500 max) to medium (100-150 max) and small (20-50 max) group spaces available.

Priority to the larger venues is based on the size of your group. Almost all of our meeting places have the option of amplified sound and multimedia presentation.

Whether you need a large area for general sessions, smaller spaces for break-out times, or just a place to have a fire and some intimate conversation, we'll work to suit your needs.

Please consider the mountain 10:00 PM sound curfew when scheduling your evening meetings.​

Learn more about our meeting spaces here.


Once you get the fundamentals of your schedule down (Meeting times, Mealtimes, and Housing needs), you can start to add activities.

Now is an excellent time to consider the demographic you're bringing up to camp:

  • If you're working with children, you'll likely want many activities with lots of structure. Reserving the recreation fields for specific times might be a good addition here.

  • If you're working with teens, you will likely want venues and hangout options like the pool, skatepark, paintball, ropes course, Malt Shop, and Underground Rec Den.

  • If you're working with adults, you'll likely want to plan for many options available to foster relationship building. So you may want to open the Malt Shop and Coffee Shops as often as possible.

Go back to Step One, think about what your group desires to experience the most, and then add activities that work best with your program. When you talk to our Guest Relations staff, see what options are available.

Also, check out the Activities section to get a feel for our offerings. As you put your group's schedule together, plan activities that work with the rest of your program.

Additional Details

After getting through all the steps provided and putting your basic schedule together, there are some final details you will need to consider.

Additional add-ons you may want to consider are Communion, Baptisms, and venues like the McKee Prayer Chapel. You can include options like these for spiritual exercises that add a special touch to your custom program.

You may also consider the little details, such as drink stations, snacks between meals, special needs amenities, break-out rooms, health care facilities, and late-night activities.

We desire to meet all your needs to make your custom retreat an extraordinary experience. One of our Core Values is to "Say 'Yes' Whenever Feasible." So go ahead, put us to the test. When you talk to our Guest Relations staff, feel free to request whatever you need to make your retreat a memorable success.

Start Building Your Custom Retreat Today!

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