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Planning a winter ski retreat this year? Ski retreats can be the perfect getaway for families, couples, singles or youth. Other than the actual skiing logistics, these can be low-key events in terms of planning since most of your day is spent on the slopes. During down time, other than organized worship times, guests often just want to relax as they are tired from a day filled with skiing (and possibly sore from a day filled with falling!).
Here are some ideas to consider as you prepare for the skiing part of your winter retreat:
- Typically, ski retreats are scheduled around extended holiday weekends (possibly New Years, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President’s Day, etc.). Keep in mind these are very busy times on ski slopes, so prepare accordingly. Some groups prefer Spring Break ski retreats. There is always the possibility some ski slopes will have closed by this time due to warmer weather, so make sure to have an alternative plan if needed.
- Most guests will not have personal ski equipment with them, so rentals will be necessary. Host locations often have relationships with ski slopes and ski rental equipment companies. Make sure you make proper reservations (if possible) for these things. It is also a good idea to pick up rental equipment a day prior as there are often long lines during peak ski times. This way you can have everything ready for your first day on the slopes.
- When traveling to the ski area, make sure you have reliable vehicles and drivers who are comfortable in potentially snowy/icy conditions. Typically, ski resorts make it a priority to keep their roads clear, but there is always a chance of fresh snow while you are on the mountain. An extra vehicle, other than the van or bus your group might be traveling in, is a great thing to have in case of a medical emergency.
- Consider asking your host location if they provide sack lunches as a meal option. If so, these can reduce costs at the ski slopes, as well as provide a convenient way to have lunch.
- As with any group trip you take, authorized medical forms are necessary as defined by your organization’s protocol.
- Packing lists are important if many of your guests are first time skiers. Include things such as ski bibs or waterproof pants, clothes to layer, a waterproof jacket, wool socks, a hat, sunglasses or ski goggles and chapstick.
While skiing is often the highlight of this type of event, there are also things you will need to prepare for when you are not on the slopes.
You’ve reserved the ski equipment. You’ve got transportation to and from the ski mountain covered. You’ve made lodging reservations, and you’re praying for the weather conditions to be favorable for your ski retreat. Now what?
Though most planning for winter ski retreats is based on the actual skiing details, there are still things you need to prepare for your trip. Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this trip?” Is it just for fun? Do you want to have a worship element? Are you trying to build group dynamics? Is this more of an outreach event? As you think about these questions, here are things to consider as you prepare for the non-skiing aspects of your winter retreat:
- Ski retreats can be a great outreach tool for your group. Keep in mind you may have people attending who are unfamiliar with your group’s purpose. This is a great opportunity to share Christ with them, as well as help them get more acquainted with those in your group.
- Ski retreats are also a valuable tool in building relationships. These relationships can be between your attendees, your leadership or a combination of both. Scheduling down time in the evenings provides an outlet for relationship building to naturally fall into place.
- If your purpose involves worship, there are a few ways to go about this. It is best to plan worship times in the evening, as most ski groups leave early in the day to maximize their ski sessions. Your guests will be tired when they return. Depending on the atmosphere and your group dynamics, you may plan a very upbeat worship session. You might consider a more laid back, acoustic session if this better fits the mood of your retreat. There could also be a time for simply having small group discussions divided by age groups.
- For late evenings, provide time for fireside chats, games (such as cards or board games) and hot chocolate, coffee and snacks. Having a place to meet such as a lobby, conference room or common space is a great way for your group to relax together and foster an environment of relationship building.
- If you are having giveaways at your retreat, think in terms of winter items such as long-sleeve t-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants or chapstick.
- For the non-skiers in your group, consider asking your host location if there are areas to sled, snow shoe, tube or go ice-skating.