Must Do’s After A Trip Or Retreat

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First thing I’m going to do when I get back is take a shower.”  Exclaimed one of the high school students that went on the retreat we had this past weekend.  I agreed although did not express this because so did I.  Even though we stayed in college dorms there is just something about not being in your own natural habitat that makes you feel dirty.  When you take teenagers out of their natural habitats you begin to get glimpses of what parents really go through.  As a young parent it helps me realize how blessed I am to only have a toddler.
Anyway, this past weekend I took a bus load of teenagers out to Steubenville, Ohio for their High School Conference and to say the least it was a powerful experience.  The teens were engaged, they were enthused and the whole weekend was supersaturated with God’s grace.  

While taking a shower was definitely on my lists of things to accomplish when I hit home, I also knew that there were several other musts that needed to get done, otherwise this would have just been another trip.  Those must do’s are to:

  • Give Feedback To Parents: To often we rely on the teenagers to tell the parents what they experienced; however, the conversations don’t go as smoothly as imagined.  A parent might ask, “How did it go?” only to get the response, “It was good.”  You need to give parents clues on what happened so that their questions can be specific and the details can be revealed.  Bring the parents into the experience.
  • Connect Teens To A Next Step: If the teens experience something profound, chances are they’ll want to keep it going.  Before you even go on the trip plan on several follow ups.  It doesn’t have to be complex, just a few set dates where they know when they can find you.  This way you take advantage of their momentum and openness. 
  • Spend Time In Reflection: Most times you want to crash (which is okay); however, before you move on make sure you spend time reflecting on the way you saw God work in your life, the retreat and your participants.  But, don’t just think about it, write it down and then ask God for clarity on what you saw and strength to rebound and refresh.
  • Rest: Anytime you go away for an extended period of time with more than one teenager that isn’t your own you’ll feel like you just ran a marathon.  Make sure your next day back is light on the load so that you don’t burn yourself out.  That means staying away from the mundane busy work that uses more energy than necessary.  Be creative with your day by doing creative tasks.
After any trip, successful or not, it’s important to move forward.  While a good meal, shower and sleep are important, so is making sure that your experience is a stand alone event.

What are some other must do’s after a trip or retreat?