Why Plan a Retreat for your Church or Group......

Posted by Jess Schload

Jun 14, 2015 9:17:36 AM

Planning a retreat is a tough job. You need to decide to do it, choose a leader, plan marketing to get folks hope_and_rogerto come, set a budget, and price for the retreat, pick a site, take registrations, plan a schedule and more. As one who works at a retreat center, I am always amazed at the folks who take this task on, usually with no training, and pull it off very well.

But, why? Why do you want to even go through all this work? Most retreat leaders I talk to plan retreats for two basic reasons.

  1. They had wonderful experiences at a retreat and want to share that with others.
  2. They want to make a difference in people’s lives. They want to help their church grow in faith.

It is a lot of work to plan a retreat, but it is worth the effort. Think of a time when you saw a change in a person’s life at a camp or retreat. Or a time when you sat in a worship service with a group of folks you just spent a wonderful couple of days with, and knew you were a stronger person, that you would be different when you went home. Remember that time when someone told you how tired they were, burned out on life, work, or God, and a time away in a beautiful space turned them around.

Retreats are what the word implies. They are a time to get away. To remove yourself from the everyday toClick this box to  begin planning your  next retreat or conference be with a group of other like minded people and center on a special topic or theme. To think of nothing but your life with God, or your spouse, or the group you are with. Retreats have many purposes, from training, to spiritual growth, to rest and renewal. However, no matter the purpose, the time apart is valuable and needed by many. In today’s “connected” world, we all need to disconnect once and a while if we are going to be whole.

Why plan a retreat? Because you can make a difference in your and other people’s lives. You can help people grow. You can help your organization or church be stronger. You can have fun with the group who attends. When a military leader yells “retreat!”, the troops leave the heat of the battle for safety. When you offer a retreat, you offer a time to get away from the heat of life. That is why planning a retreat is time well spent. Let us at LEC know if we can help. Check other blogs in this series for ideas. Look for books and websites on retreat planning. Begin today to make a difference. You will not regret it.

Rev. Jess Schload, Director,

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Topics: Spiritual Growth, Retreat and Conference Planning, retreat in Florida, retreat, retreat alone, planning women's retreat

To Volunteer at the Life Enrichment Retreat Center

Posted by Jess Schload

May 22, 2015 12:46:00 PM

There are many ways to give your time to a vital ministry that helps change people's lives. We are happy to work in any of the following ways with you (or your group). Want to give some time? Consider:

1. If you are here with a group retreat and would like to offer your help during some free time, just check at the front desk. Or better yet, let us know before you arrive. We always have small projects on the grounds, in the office, or many other possibilities. Just ask!

2.Come for a day: We need folks willing to give a day, or a day a month, week, etc. Call or email (352-787-0313 or to see how you can be a part of helping this ministry grow.

3. Bring a group from a church. We recently had a great group of folks from North Carolina. Another group2015-04-15_16.08.31 has come twice from Iowa. Sometimes a local church gets a group together to come for a day, or to help do a project. Think about a group coming from your chruch.

4. Drop in: Do you have an RV and like to serve. Consider dropping in to give a few days to several weeks of service. We are happy to provide a full hook-up site for your time. Just give us a call or write, and we will set it up (352-787-0313 or

5. Workamper: We have a wonderful group of folks who come for a winter season (3 months or more) to serve in our ministry. We ask 24 hours of service a week for a full hook-up site in our RV campground. Sorry, we do not have any other housing options. Interested in this opportunity. Let us know and we will get you an application. 

Our volunteers help with programs, dining, maintenance, grounds, hospitality and more. 

We recently talked with Jan and Phyllis Wilson, who have been workamping here for several years. Read on to learn about their experience.


Jan and Phyllis Wilson have volunteering in their hearts. Since retirement they have served at no less than 6 volunteer positions including Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International and local opportunities (Ft. Dodge, IA). A few years back, they discovered the Life Enrichment Center online (praise God for Google) and decided to check with us about volunteer options. Since coming to LEC it is clear this has been a wonderful match for LEC and for the Wilsons. They are quick to tell others that “LEC is an awesome place to have an opportunity to serve. It is a wonderful Christian atmosphere, where each day starts with devotions. The other volunteers are very special people and we are privileged to have them as friends”.

Picture1Jan points out that the location is a special place. “I sometimes go out with my camera on a Sunday and that helps me be more observant”. He sees God in a hawk or a wonderful tree that fell years ago, but still survived. Phyllis adds that the blessing of volunteering here goes two ways. They are a blessing to LEC, and the place and people are a blessing to them. Jan and Phyllis have been responsible for much of the improvements to the grounds, including the  front entrance, flowers by the front office, and cleaning up of the labyrinth. All of us at LEC are so grateful for Phyllis and Jan and all our workampers.




Topics: Retreat and Conference Planning, retreat in Florida, United Methodist Church, volunteer, work Camping, workamping, volunteer retreat center, RV volunteer programs

I Am Planning A Retreat - How Much Will It Cost?

Posted by Jess Schload

Aug 22, 2014 6:00:00 AM

One of the first questions people ask when checking with us (or any site) about doing a retreat is “what will it cost?” I have noticed in recent years, with the downturn in the economy we experienced, people not only ask that question, but often ask about any way to reduce the fees. I fully understand this concern.


People today are concerned more than ever where their hard earned income goes. If someone is going to spend what it cost to attend an event or conference, they want to make sure it will be money well spent. The old question “what is in it for me?” is many people’s guide to saying yes or no.

When deciding the fee you will charge for a retreat, you need to take a number of things into account.

  1. Cost of food and lodging at the site.
  2. Other site costs
  3. Costs for a leader(s) to guide the time.
  4. Cost for materials needed for the event.
  5. Transportation costs (if you are providing a bus or other means of transportation).
  6. Marketing costs.
  7. Miscellaneous costs (always build a bit of this in for all the things you can not anticipate early in the process).

Both the site used and you need to work together to make sure the event is worth the hard earned money the attendees will spend to attend. The site will provide the services and space. As a site, our mission is to make this place ideal for people to come and grow in faith or other ways depending on your goals. We seek to have beautiful and peaceful grounds, activities for free time, outstanding meals, and comfortable lodging. We seek to match your event to the best meeting space possible to meet your needs. All we want you to be concerned with is the program. We will have your back on all the other services.

So, how much does it cost? Every site is different. There are very low cost options, and those that will be higher. You could choose a summer camp as your site, but be ready for bunk beds (up to 8 in a room), the need to bring your own bedding, and the use of a public bathroom (plus they may have a more kid friendly menu for their food service). For many groups, this is no problem.

Other sites offer private and semi private rooms, each with a bathroom and linens provided. This will, of course, cost a bit more. Many adults insist on these comforts. When getting a price from a center, make sure you know what it includes (or does not include). Most centers will price per person. Find out the following for starters.

  1. Is this a price for the entire event or the daily price?
  2. Are the meals included?
  3. Are linens included?
  4. Is the meeting space included?
  5. Are audio visual items available and what do they cost?
  6. What are extra charges we might have? (An example from our site would be catering beyond the meals, or canoeing, both which are not included in the rates).

Growing In Faith With Life Enrichment Center


Also, never book a site without a site visit. A place that looks wonderful on the website may have a totally different look and feel in person. Most sites are happy to have you come and see the place. If you are unable to do this, recruit someone to do it for you. You will be glad you did.

Cost of an event like this is important. It is a major factor in planning. But it is not the only factor, and the cheapest may not always be the best option (but it may be as well). As you consider planning a retreat, you will also need to consider other questions like:

  1. What am I trying to accomplish or what is my goal for this event?
  2. What will be the theme?
  3. What am I looking for in a site?
  4. Who will be invited?
  5. How will this be financed?
  6. Who can be the leader?
  7. What is the best date?
  8. How many days(nights) should this be?

Watch here for more articles on this subject. We, as are other conference centers, are here to help you. Most sites have a dedicated person who is assigned to work with you throughout the planning.  For us it is Connie, and she can be reached at 352-787-0313 or Want to know what it costs? That depends on your needs. Contact Connie and she can give you a quote from LEC.

Let us know if you have any question. 

Check out the following for more information:



Topics: Retreat and Conference Planning, retreat

What is a Retreat?

Posted by Rev. Jess Schload, CCCP

Jul 19, 2014 7:30:00 AM

I remember, as a Jr. High age youth, going with my youth group from our small church to a retreat at a camp near Gettysburg, PA. As a young teen, I had no idea what a “retreat” was, but I knew I was going away for a weekend with my friends, and that sounded great. I had an awesome time. We played games, got to stay up late and talk, had a campfire, and I think I remember having some serious times as well. I came home fired up and excited about the weekend and my commitment to going to church grew.


I was tired, but it was a good tired. This retreat thing was fun. I wanted to do it again!

Looking back, I can now describe why it was great. I did not understand it then, but now I know a bit of what happened at beautiful Camp Nawakwa.

I had a weekend away from the everyday life and spent a wonderful and growing time with caring adult leaders and my friends.  For a weekend I was able to set aside issues from school and home, and get away. My relationship with others grew in a deep way and I grew closer to God. Maybe that is why they call it a retreat. You truly retreat from the everyday to grow in a special way. 

Whether it is an event for teens or adults, retreats can be a vital part of growth in your faith. All of us, like Jesus did, need to get away from the everyday once and a while to have an opportunity to grow in our faith. Retreats at a camp or retreat center get you out of your element and puts you in a special place apart. Retreat centers have a mission of providing that place apart. They are usually in beautiful rural locations, and you can feel the peace as you arrive on site.

Growing In Faith With Life Enrichment Center Retreats can be done alone, or with a group. They can be unstructured, for prayer and meditation, or planned out in every detail with worship, preaching, teaching, fun and fellowship. I have been serving at retreat centers for over 20 years and no two retreats were ever the same. The people involved and God makes each experience special.

I hope you have been on a retreat. If you have, you may understand what I am trying to say in this short article. If you have never been to one, I encourage you to check one out, or plan a retreat for your Sunday School class, youth, entire church, or other organization you are a part of in your life. In today’s connected world, sometimes we need to disconnect. A retreat can help you do just that.

Check out other articles in this blog for retreat planning information. More will be added soon.

Rev. Jess Schload has been the director of the Life Enrichment Retreat Center since 2007. Prior to that he was the Executive Director at Geneva Point Center in New Hampshire and served churches in Pennsylvania and Indiana. He is ordained in the Church of the Brethren and is a Certified Conference Center Professional. He can be reached at 352-787-0313 or


Topics: Retreat and Conference Planning

Planning a Women's Retreat?

Posted by Jaynie Schutlz, Co-Founder, Retreat Central

Jul 8, 2014 2:30:00 AM

Credit for this article to Retreat Central ( Retreat Central is a great resource for retreat planning including searching for centers in your area. Used with permission.

The question so often asked of women is “how do you do it all?”  There are countless articles, interviews and even movies with this theme. 

Untitled-3-1I think the question behind the question is how we do more with the same or fewer resources than our fellow humans, men.  We both share the same number of hours in a day but somehow women seem to get so many more things accomplished.  The question of how we spend our time and attention is a terrific theme for a ladies retreat.  Women’s retreats are designed to enable us to take a step back, recharge and refocus on what really matters in our lives.  There are many ways the theme of “doing it all” or “doing more with less” can be incorporated into retreats. 

Let’s look at the key ingredients of every retreat: 

  1. Lodging 
  2. Food 
  3. Program    

Choosing a facility with a lovely environment is essential to this theme.  It does not need to be fancy or expensive, but it does need to be well-thought out in design and hopefully in a beautiful environment.  To bring the theme to life through accommodations, share with participants early on why this particular site was selected.  Make sure the facility managers help you access all the features of the property.  They know all the best uses and surprises!  For example, ask to host a break out or cocktail hour under the trees or in a special enclave.  If there is a nice chapel or outdoor amphitheater, utilize it for moments of sharing and group building.  Most retreat centers are significant less expensive than hotels and in fact “do more with less”.

Meals are a really easy way to bring forward “doing it all”.  Have the chefs share some of their tips for cost-savings and kitchen efficiencies.  Great chefs never have food waste during preparation and they have amazing ideas participants can apply these secrets at home.  You can set up food-based programs for exploring creativity and/or group building with real life exercises such as building “lunches to go” with only seven ingredients or developing a weekly meal plan that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes/night. 

The theme goes straight to the heart through the program.  Through the program the women will bond with each other and build a lifelong connection to your organization (church).  The program should build in intensity beginning with sharing and ending on commitment.  For example, beginNew Call-to-Action the weekend with each woman talking about their daily lives - what are they like?  Are they similar to each other?  Then move to tips and ideas of ways they can help each other feel strong and stable in their daily lives.  Finally, end with each person choosing one thing to strengthen and one thing to drop along with a plan for checking in with each other regularly before the next retreat. 

These ideas can help the women you serve appreciate themselves and your organization for years ahead.

Join our e-newsletter and receive retreat planning tips every month!

By Jaynie Schutlz, Co-Founder, Retreat Central 
Jaynie Schultz created Garrett Creek Ranch with her mother more than 20 years ago. She served as the founding Director of Sales and Marketing and is involved in many non-profit organizations and leadership development programs.


Topics: Retreat and Conference Planning, retreat, Christian women, Women's Retreat, Christian women's retreat, planning women's retreat

Retreat Planning: How to Create a Retreat Plan for your Church

Posted by Jess Schload

May 20, 2014 1:46:00 PM

Credit for this article to Retreat Central ( Used with permission.

Planning a retreat? Here is your chance to be a hero! The more you plan in advance, the more organized you will be, and the overall outcome will be higher quality. 

Most companies and organizations will not simply hand over money for you to host a retreat – even if they asked you to plan it. Your company will want to know rough budget estimates and details about you_MG_1286r event.  Even if you are in charge of your own budget, it is still helpful to take the step of preparing a basic plan to organize and save your thoughts. So let's get started!

How to Prepare a Basic Plan

Download the Retreat Plan template to fill out as you go! <

Your plan should include at least 4 things: a summary, a goal, the audience, and the budget.

1. Summarize the Event

Your summary is a basic snapshot of your retreat in 3 sentences or less. With no additional information, anyone that reads your plan should be able to understand what the event is from a high-level perspective. It is appropriate to include a basic goal in this summary. For example: 

  • This leadership retreat will bring together the leaders of    (fill in the blank)   company/church/university for program and budget planning for the next year.
2. Determine a Timeline

When is this retreat? Are you planning it in the winter or in the spring? Include the target time frame of the event, the promotion period, and any other important milestones. Make sure you understand the timing of your participants. How much lead time do they need? Tip: start from the end (the retreat date) and work backwards. For example: 
  • Retreat planning: Jan.-May
  • Website page created: March 1
  • Promotion: March-June
  • Retreat Date: mid-June
New Call-to-Action 3. Set a Goal (or two or three)

All retreats should have at least one simple goal. Are you planning a retreat on behalf of a business, university, or other organization? If so, consider the mission of the organization and create a goal that aligns with this mission. Goals can be high-level, or they can be very specific. Set enough goals that someone reading your plan can start to picture your retreat. For example:
  • 3 days 
  • 20+ participants
  • Overnight accommodations at a camp retreat center
  • Team-building activities
  • Completed program plans and budget for next year 
  • Enhance leadership skills
  • Promote togetherness and a sense of community
4. Define Your Audience 

First, ask yourself these questions: Who are you inviting to your retreat? Are they males and females? Adults only, or are children invited? Next, dig a little deeper into your audience. What do your attendees care about? What are they interested in? This does not dictate who is allowed to come. Rather, it outlines the group for which the retreat is intended. Doing this small brainstorm and jotting down a few notes will help you later as you plan activities and promote the event. For example:
  • Males and females 
  • 35-55 years old 
  • Doctors, CEOs, administrative professionals, team leaders 
  • Many have children 
  • Volunteers 
  • Live in _____ city/state/neighborhood

5. Propose a Budget

Money is a big factor for most retreats. Research and compile estimates for the larger cost categories. The costs should be realistic – not too high, and not too low. If they are too high, you might not get approved. Too low? You might be stuck with a penny-saver budget. 

Your venue will be one of your larger expenses. A four-star retreat center will require a much higher budget than a camp retreat center. Be sure to include an estimate for overnight accommodations and meeting space. Other large budget items to consider include: travel and transportation; food and beverage; and marketing and promotion. 

Also, be sure to subtract the estimated cost per person in your budget to show how costs will be offset. If the goal of the retreat is to raise money, include estimated earnings from fundraising activities, which could be a silent auction, offering, etc. 

Your retreat plan should be able to fit on 1-2 pages. 

Now that you have finished creating your retreat plan, you have a nice guide to use moving forward. The items that you have already identified should help you get budget approval, provide direction on event promotion, help you choose a retreat theme, and overall, organize your thoughts. Having your plan ready also helps the retreat center - the staff can better support the goals of the retreat.  Often they have ideas about ways to use the facility that you never would have known. 

To download the Retreat Plan template, click here.

Happy Retreating! 

Click this link to chat with us now....https://Chat.with LEC

If you are considering planning a retreat, check out or for more information on a Florida retreat location. 


Topics: Retreat and Conference Planning

Five Questions to Consider When Planning a Retreat or Conference

Posted by Jess Schload

Feb 15, 2014 5:00:00 AM

Untitled-3Many years ago, I worked at a newspaper. I was not a reporter, but a photographer. As such, I worked daily with the news staff as they collected stories. I can clearly remember, as they interviewed folks for the story, how they would check themselves to make sure they answered the key questions all news articles need to answer. Then, after writing the piece, they would again scan the article for the same reason. “Did I answer the key questions?” 

I am sure you heard this before. The five key questions that reporters ask in one way or another to complete a news story are simple:


These are vital questions to make sure you answer if you are writing an article for the church newsletter, planning a party, and planning a retreat. I am amazed how many times I am discussing retreat plans with a potential group leader, and it is clear they did not consider all these questions. If you are thinking of doing a retreat or conference for your church or organization, you can help your planning, marketing, and execution of the event by taking time early to answer these simple but very important questions. The following is some of what you should consider for each question:

Who?  Who is this retreat intended to serve? How will we let them know this is happening? How many will there be? Is there anyone else this retreat might benefit?

What? What is the theme of this event? What is its purpose? What do we need to do to make this happen? What materials will we use or guest speaker will we invite? What will it cost to pull this retreat off?

When?  When will we do this? How far out should we plan? Are there conflicts on the church calendar? Any holidays we need to consider? How many nights?

Where?  This is the easy one – The Life Enrichment Center!! OK, you may not be able to come here, and if not, consider the location. Perhaps it should be at the church, a retreat center, another local venue or maybe at a church in another town. We need to call and get a date reserved. We need the details, like cost, meeting room needs, food, etc.

Why?  This could be the most important question. Why do we need to do this event? Do we really need it? Why is it vital we hold this event?

It is that simple. Answer those five questions, and you are well on your way to an outstanding retreat or conference.

What are other things you consider as you plan?


Topics: Retreat and Conference Planning