Just from the name of this website, you know I love retreats. I would never choose to do away with offering retreats.
We have done annual two-night retreats (that go from Friday evening to Sunday at noon) for over 25 years. As you are no doubt aware, the cost for overnight accommodations and retreat venue are constantly going up. In 2018, for two in a room, the cost was over $175 per person (cheaper if one was willing to share a bed and do four in a room). That cost, and the time away from home kept many of our women from participating in the retreats, even when offered a partial scholarship.
This year, we did a women’s conference at the church with one session on a Friday night, and two sessions on Saturday through late afternoon. We had a guest speaker who did three sessions. But other than her expenses, we kept the conference fairly “bare bones.” If the women wanted lunch, they paid extra. If they wanted snacks, we had snacks available to purchase. All we provided was a program, a dessert bar on Friday night, and coffee/tea and water. So our cost per woman was less than $50.
Pros and Cons? I feel sure that the lesser price made the conference more affordable for women to attend; however, there were still women I had hoped would be able to come that did not come. I do know women who were thankful to sleep in their own bed at night during the conference, and appreciated that there was some weekend left after the conference. But I spoke with others who love truly getting away at a retreat, away from family responsibilities, with time to be active during free times and having more time for fellowship, in addition to the retreat activities.