We are aware of the many challenges that face youth ministry today and how they affect your planning. Students today are busier than ever, and find themselves torn between competing desires for time and commitments. We know that this causes much hair pulling as you plan activities. It also effects the operation of Subiaco and the retreat experience. Some weekends we are overbooked and straining capacity; other weekends we are under booked, while groups are left on waiting list. It is our hope to improve scheduling through email and on-line calendar so we can accommodate as many youth as is comfortable and provide the best experience.
Over the years of we have found there is an ideal range of guests that promotes the best experience. Too few students tend to get overwhelmed by the size of the place and group activities lack a certain community spirituality. When we are overfilled the accommodations become uncomfortable and students get lost as cliques form in reaction to the large numbers. The most effective range seems to lie between 30 and 45 people. To maintain these numbers we have begun combing parishes within a weekend. Combining parishes has proven fruitful, many friendships are established and often the groups form lasting relationship, continuing community building through other shared activities.
All youth leaders have found it difficult to get commitments from students, as well as last minute cancellations, or low participation. No one should feel alone in this dilemma. In addition to affecting the retreat experience for those attending, the operation of the retreat house is impacted. We have certain fixed cost involved with maintenance, utilities, and service regardless of the size of the group. Please help us as much as possible when making reservation. We like keeping things informal and have never felt the need to write up contracts or set minimum guarantee levels.
Please stay in contact with the retreat house and keep us updated with the most reasonable numbers. More often than not group leaders tend to over estimate participation. Students seem eager to attend but then drop away as the date draws near. Many have found that if you establish some kind of deposit and payment schedule with the youth it helps in making accurate reservations. Tell the students that there is a limited number opening. It creates a sense of something special. It is easier to try and accommodate more youth than have a near empty house.