The retreat registration card for our retreats gives room for women to designate their preferred roommate. We have addressed the further issues that are faced when women will share a bed in a “four-per-room” option here. As much as possible, we ask women to designate their roommates to make retreat room assignments as easy as possible.
However, on rare occasions, we end up with individual who, for one reason or another, is unable to come up with a roommate to list on her registration card. Possibly she is new to the church and doesn’t know the other women, or the women they do know have already designated their roommate preference. Possibly she is just one of those difficult people.
Look for those special women in your women’s ministry–those who are mature in the Lord, tolerant, full of grace, and who love to reach out to women and minister to them. Ask these ladies to prayerfully consider being available to be a roommate at the retreat for one of these new or hard-to-place women.
Each retreat can have its own unique retreat rooming options. Assigning rooms in a hotel to retreat attendees is easier because our retreat registration form gives space for each attendee to write down her roommate preferences; in addition, the form requires that each attendee designate the person with whom she will share a bed (if she chooses the four-to-a-room option in a hotel). This information reduces, but does not eliminate, the work involved in assigning rooms and finalizing the rooming list. This is because sometimes someone chooses the four-to-a-room option, yet designates only the one other person who will share her bed (required for that option), but lists no other roommates. Or, potential roommates are listed who do not actually register for the retreat. So it is our job to shuffle people around so that all rooms are filled correctly.
We used to give other options, such as snorer/non-snorer, quiet room/party room, etc. That made it way too confusing! As much as possible, make your ladies do their own room assignments. And with the remaining rooms, it helps to consider this a puzzle. List your rooms, with any special features (i.e. handicap room, etc.). Then use a pencil to assign rooms. Do the easy ones first–the ones where the roommates are designated. Then pray for wisdom and discernment as you assign women to the remaining rooms.
Registration for our 2010 retreat ended on Oct. 24, and women had a few more days to make their final payment on their balance due for the retreat. Our goal is now to have the rooming list done by oct. 31, ready to turn in to the hotel next week. This is a critical time to keep close communication with the hotel to make sure you have enough rooms or to release the unused rooms, based on the attrition rate on your contract.
Things always speed up at the end of registration, and there is a flurry of activity. Laura, who works with registration and rooming, has a word for this: “Shenanigans”. It is not a surprise, because it happens every year at this time.
- You have those last-minute women who have had over a month to register, and somehow they miss the last day of registration. They are begging for you to make a place for them.
- You have the women who have paid their deposit, but have trouble coming up with the remainder of the balance. If there is scholarship money available, we can possibly help them; otherwise, they may have to cancel their plans to attend the retreat, losing their non-refundable deposit.
- You have those who cancel because a conflict has suddenly come up.
- You have those who keep us busy trying to make last-minute rooming changes. As you will note on our registration form, we have a place for ladies to designate their roommate. If those who register fill in their desired roommate, it simplifies the rooming process immensely. However, as registration closes, for some reason people want to make changes–adding person to a room, changing roommates for one reason or another…and on and on…
- We have those who have been on the waiting list, or who hurriedly add their names to the waiting list at the last minute. When something opens up, these ladies need to be called individually to find out if they can still come to the retreat.
Shenanigans. They are going to happen. Accept them, work through the problems, and know that “this too shall pass.”
The registration table at the retreat is where the women come, just prior to the first session, to check in and to pick up their name tags and booklets. In past years, room keys were also picked up at this time. Because we are in a hotel, we have found that allowing each woman to check into the hotel individually is much less hassle.
To prepare for registration at the retreat, nametags are matched with retreat booklets, and arranged alphabetically on the tables. This can be set up early; however, we don’t allow women to pick up their nametags/booklets until registration has officially begun. So after setting up the registration table, we cover it until the scheduled time for registration–normally an hour to an hour and a half from when the first session begins.
As women pick up their packets, their name is checked off a master alphabetical list of those attending. Discrepancies are then noted immediately. The most common problem we encounter is when a group substitutes a new woman (who has not officially registered) for one who cancelled at the last minute. To be prepared for this, we have blank name tags and extra booklets on hand. Also, the hotel must be kept informed of any changes to rooming that are made at the last minute. If your group is larger, you can have different tables sections of the alphabet (A-L register here, M-Z register here).
Our women’s retreats are open for teenaged girls 7th grade and above. Our pastor’s wife, Denise, believes that it is good for teen girls to participate in women’s retreats and that it helps them cross the bridge from youth to young women. Both her daughter, and later my daughter attended many of our women’s retreats as young teens and now as young adults. Speaking as a mom, I highly recommend it! She was involved in youth activities at church. However, the women’s retreats gave her an opportunity to see Jesus working in women’s lives, and hear from women other than her mother. And of course, any opportunity to instill God’s Word into a young life is a good thing!
Sometimes the teens will attend the retreat and room with their moms. However, every year we offer a “teen room” option, where the teens can be together in a room with a chaperone (or two chaperones, depending on the number of teens). While we know the girls profit from the main sessions during the retreat, being together with those their own age gives them the option of sharing with other teens and participating in more teen activities. Often, we will provide a workshop specifically for the teens. If possible, we plan free time activities specifically geared to them.
We would offer a few guidelines as you open your retreat to teens:
- Of course, a parental permission slip is required for girls attending the retreat when their mother is not in attendance. If a teen attends without her mother, another woman who is attending must be designated as the responsible adult, and this is noted on the parental permission form (this could be the chaperone);
- Teens need to stay with their moms, or be with the teen group at all times;
- The teen chaparone(s) are not allowed to take the girls off the retreat property (i.e. going away for lunch or shopping during free time);
- We ask chaperones to ensure that teens are in attendance at all main sessions (usually three main teachings and the ending session with communion).