Community Builders: Girls Retreat

Contributed by: Charlie Baker, Diocese of Auckland

Gather together all your girls and their friends for a sleepover, a weekend away, or even get together with other youth groups in your diocese or local area for one massive girls weekend.

A girls retreat creates a space where girls can just be girls. There can be open and honest conversations about issues that can’t easily be discussed within a typical youth group setting. What’s more, you get to go all-out girly for a whole event – decorate with fairy lights, bunting, fabric, candles, get dressed up… let prettiness abound!

Aside from having a whole lot of ‘girls only’ fun, make the most of your time together to encourage, inspire and equip the girls in their faith. It’s an opportunity to complement the input they have received (through youth group and diocesan camps) by giving them tools and experiences to develop their personal spirituality and devotional life. This is can be done through speakers, workshops, small group discussions, worship, devotions, journalling, opportunities for one-on-one times with Christian women for mentoring, prayer, and more.

Teaching

Invite a female speaker to speak on issues and biblical messages that are particularly relevant to young women, such as

  • Loving God with our ‘Head, Heart & Hands’;
  • ‘Shine Bright’ – the story of Esther;
  • living ‘In Harmony’ with God and each other – lessons from Philippians;
  • ‘Life, Love & Liberty’ – discovering freedom in Christ & the Holy Spirit in us – Galatians 5,
  • ‘Girls of Grace’ – real stories of women who have experienced God’s grace and are living lives of grace;
  • ‘Handmade’ – Psalm 139.

Small Groups

A key element of these retreats is the small group times. Divide into age groups for discussion after your teaching or Bible study times. It creates a space where the girls can have open and honest conversations about their lives. It’s also an opportunity for sharing what God is saying to them through the retreat, and for prayer. Provide the leaders with discussion questions based on the teaching session. During each small group time, we would give the girls a small gift or do a craft activity to create something which they can take home as a physical reminder of what they have learned during the retreat.

Quiet Times & Devotions

Teach them how to do a quiet time and give them an opportunity to give it a try. Give them a book of devotions (we would create our own but you can purchase these if your budget allows) or simply use the Head, Heart, Hands method. Encourage them to continue doing these Quiet Times over the following weeks in order to develop the habit of regularly spending time with God.

Formal Dinner

Go all out for a formal dinner at the end of your weekend. Decorate the tables, get all dressed up, and invite your male youth leaders or dads to come and serve the meal! During the night, have an opportunity for the girls and leaders to share testimonies of how they have encountered God through their time at the retreat. It’s always an incredibly special time and a beautiful way to end the weekend.

Sample Program

Friday

7.00pm: Arrival & Registration
7.30pm: Welcome & Small Group Challenge – for team building and fun! e.g. Trash to Fashion Challenge, Toilet Paper Fashion, Cake decorating
8.30pm: Session 1 –  an icebreaker game, worship, a message/Bible study, prayer ministry.
10.00pm: Small groups & supper
11.00pm: Late night movie or bedtime

Saturday

8.00am: Breakfast
9.00am: Quiet Times
9.30am: Session 2 – an icebreaker game, worship, a message/Bible study, prayer ministry.
11.00am: Small groups & morning tea
11.30am: Activities/Creative Workshops – e.g. dance class, scavenger hunt, crafts, cupcake decorating
1.00pm: Lunch
2.30pm: Spiritual Workshops (e.g. journaling, creative prayer) or a Question panel with leaders (you could invite some special guests for this)
3.30pm: Small groups & afternoon tea
4.00pm: Afternoon activities/free time
6.00pm: Formal Dinner
8.30pm: Finish