Christian retreats emphasize community and faith. Plan retreat activities to bring children into closer relationship with each other and with God. Christian children's retreat activities include icebreakers, prayer exercises and faith-focused team building. Organize activities according to your retreat theme, the length of the retreat and the participants. Gather participants throughout each day and in the evening to keep them grounded. Stretch guests' comfort zones to guide them into closer harmony with God and their fellow humans. Provide a sense of strength and wisdom throughout all of your retreat activities.
Introduce children to the retreat with an icebreaker activity. The website Christian Icebreaker Games provides a list of icebreaker ideas, including the "We are Similar" icebreaker. Write, "(Name) and I are similar because we (fill in the blank)." Give each guest an index card and a pen. Instruct children to find a person they don't know well. Give pairs 5 minutes to write down as many similarities as possible. Ask pairs to share what they discovered about each other. Suggest similarities, such as being from the same town, liking the same food and playing the same musical instrument.
Prayer and Meditation Activities
Christian retreats guide children's faith in God and bring prayer into focus. Teach retreat guests to practice the ancient Christian centering prayer. The website Contemplative Outreach offers centering prayer instructions. Gather the kids to describe and model centering prayer. Ask them to select a word or simple phrase that symbolizes God. Suggest words or phrases like "Abba"---"Daddy" in biblical Aramaic---or "Peace." Instruct children to sit with eyes closed, breathing softly. As they follow their breath, gently and silently repeat their prayer word. Allow the words to settle in. Remain in this state for 10 minutes. Use a watch to track time---you never lose contact with the world despite deep, contemplative sessions. Transition out of centering prayer by quietly reciting the "Our Father." Tell guests to find a quiet spot indoors or outside to practice centering prayer. Make this prayer time a daily part of the retreat schedule. Ask the children to keep journals. Gather for a light lunch on the last day to discuss the children's experiences with and thoughts about centering prayer.
Give Christian children a glimpse of a different religious tradition. Plan a vegetarian lunch in which children dance and chant "Hare Krishna." Explain that Hindu Krishna devotees offer food---prasad--to God, which they call Krishna. By "spiritualizing eating," devotees express their love of God and benefit from eating the proper foods, writes Adiraja Dasa, a Krishna devotee and spiritual food expert. Decorate a table with brightly colored carnations. Burn incense---ask if anyone is allergic or sensitive. Play sitar music in the background. Explain that dancing and praising God are parts of a sacred activity. Chant three or four times. Eat lunch sitting on pillows. Eat with your hands.
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