At one point or another in your life, you’ve either known a teenager, been related to a teenager, raised a teenager, taught a teenager or been a teenager. Because of that, you know how tough the teen years can be. That’s exactly why – in the 13-18 years more than ever – those who have been there before need to find ways to be present for those going through it now.

One of the top ways to make an impact in those teenage years is through a retreat. Whether it’s your teen and a few of their friends, your local church’s youth group or a large-scale high school leadership summit, retreats are worth the work. That’s why we’ve put together a 5-step quick-start guide to help you plan a retreat that teens will love at Edenwood Ranch, a private event venue in Wisconsin.


1) Get Organized Early

As with any event, the earlier you start, the more prepared you are for the inevitable hiccup or two. Plus, a whole second set of responsibilities lie in the execution of the event, so get as much as you can settled early. Some of the big tasks will include:

  • Set dates & book location
  • Set a budget
  • Organize transportation
  • Get volunteers/chaperones (and background check ‘em)
  • Pick a theme
  • Book speakers/presenters
  • Plan menu and snacks

Don’t make the mistake of taking on all this planning alone, either. Get a committee together who are invested in connecting with teens. Try to include not only adults but also teens who can speak directly to the needs/wants of the generation you are looking to serve.


2) Location, Location, Location

Aside from food and transportation, location is the most important ingredient in the youth retreat planning recipe. Ideally, you will find a site that offers you everything you need at one place so that you can minimize transportation needs. That means meals, lodging, activities and everything in between.

At Edenwood Ranch and Preserve, a nature resort in Wisconsin, we do all that and more! When you book your retreat with us, you have access to:

  • 500 acres of private nature preserve
  • 4 cabins with a total of 30 beds
  • Full chef kitchen in most cabins AND outdoor grills
  • Indoor and outdoor games
  • Swimming
  • Boating/Kayaking/Paddleboarding
  • Ziplining
  • Archery Range
  • Biking & hiking trails
  • Campfires
  • Stargazing
  • Much, much more!


3) Find Support

When we say “support,” we mean two things: people and resources.

  • People: Relationships can make or break the success of a retreat. It’s essential to find a team of leaders and chaperones who truly have a heart for our future generation. It can be more than parents, too. Ideal, your support squad should be as unique and diverse as the group you will be leading. Look for people who live out qualities like authenticity, humor, freedom and flexibility. (This applies to the speakers/presenters just as much as the chaperones, too.)
  • Resources: You will need a variety of resources to support this undertaking. This can mean things like financial support, healthy food prep, vehicles for transportation, administrative assistance, and more. Keep an ongoing “wish list” of resources that would make this retreat a success and be unapologetic about asking folks to help make these wishes come true.



4) Create a Flexible Agenda

We can summarize this item in two words: FEW and WELL. Most of the spontaneous growth that happens at a retreat like this occurs in the margin. What that means is – even with expert level research and planning – if there’s no space for processing, the full impact of an event like this is limited. Try to create events in three categories: Full group, small group and free time.

Our favorite resource for finding awesome activities is Pinterest. Use your retreat theme as part of a targeted search along with words like “icebreakers” or “discussion questions.” And don’t be afraid to pick the brains of local experts, too, like youth pastors, high school gym teachers, and coaches.


5) Food Goes with Fun

Finally, let’s talk food! Other than the certainty that there should be a LOT of it, determining the details of what and how are not small tasks. Once you’ve gathered details about each of the attendees’ food allergies/sensitivities, you can get to work organizing the menu. When you go the DIY route, simple is best. Don’t create more work for yourself than necessary. You might be surprised how much people enjoy things like:

  • cold breakfast options (bagels, cereal, fruit, etc.)
  • brown-bag style lunches
  • buffet-style dinners

Whatever you choose to serve, remember that nearly any activity can be an opportunity for encouraging a growth mindset in your kids. And what better place to do that than in this gorgeous nature resort in Wisconsin with the future leaders of our world.


Private Event Venue WI

We know how much time, energy and dedication it takes to put together an event like this. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for taking the time to serve the teens in your life in whatever capacity you do. Rest assured, Edenwood Ranch and Preserve will do everything we can to ensure that your event is everything you dream it will be!


Call 920-574-4641 today to make your reservation!