I've worked on something like 2,112 retreats in my time. I have the retreat thing down to a science. I've tested a number of approaches to every aspect of retreat planning and execution. Over the years there are a few systems that I've developed that I use all the time. Today I want to show you one of those systems; a template for retreat schedules that should help you and your volunteers to stay on the same page throughout your event.

The Retreat Schedule

Here I have the schedule form an event I did years ago. I cleared my notes from the page so you can see it in a basic form. This is the template I use for all of my event schedules. It follows a similar form to my outlines, listing out the day hour by hour, but this schedule allows for elaboration on times and instructions for my team. 

I've experimented with more columns and more information on the page, and I've experimented with fewer columns and less information. This seems to be the perfect balance of content and cleanliness for me.

Starting from the left, you have a column for the title of your event. That is followed by the time of the event. I like to include a start and end time for more precision in the planning and execution of events. When all of your volunteers know that an event ends at 11:45, for example, you are less likely to see that event run late. In the next column I like to list the location of the event. If you are in a big retreat house or parish you may have a catechetical session in the main hall, lunch in the dining hall, games outside, Mass in the Church, etc. Listing locations can be very helpful in keeping large teams on the same page. If you delegate events to your team (you should) the next column is helpful as well as self-explanatory. The second to last column is for your notes as relates to that event. The final column is for notes that are brought up by your volunteers. 

Creating Your Own Template

Creating your own schedule is simple. Simply open your word processor (I use Pages because I work on a MacBook because I want to look cool. But the process is the same on Microsoft Word) and create a table with seven columns. I like to merge the cells on the top row of my table so I can place the day of the retreat over the schedule. This step is only really helpful if your retreat will last multiple days. 

I like to place the name of the event (in the above example, that would be the "What is Love" Lock In) in the header of my document as well as the page number. When you have a schedule that takes up a few pages your volunteers will inevitably mix up the pages. Page numbers in the header take care of this issue from the start.

Conclusion

If you aren't great with computers or you just don't want to do the work (I'm not judging), I'll be happy to send you my document so you can simply copy and paste your plans into the template. Simply send me an email on my contact page

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