retreat activities

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Good morning Leaders,

I hope all is well. My name is L.J. and I am the Education VISTA Leader at PHENND in Philadelphia.  I am currently planning a retreat for our 18 VISTA volunteers in November. I am in need of ideas for activities that could be done throughout the retreat that will increase collaboration and interaction. At the moment, I only have a vision board on the list of acitivities. Thank you for your help! 



Hey, LJ!

One of the most popular sessions at our member trainings is open space! You probably experienced it at VISTA Leader training. Let your members come up with a list of topics they want to cover and break out into groups about. This helps provide a structured setting for some of the spontaneous conversations that always take place at events.

I always enjoyed service opportunities, or a non training activity, like a hike or mocktail hour. There are a variety of ice breakers too that aren't too bad. Never have I ever and the such where people can share information without being singled out.

Good luck!

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Good Afternoon,

I am a big fan of IMPROV games. They are both fantastic icebreaker warm ups and team building activities. here are some examples:

  • build a story 1 word at a time (whatever pops in the head) "Chickens eat velcro cuz purple flies." It can get hilarious.
  • Build a machine: people enter the stage area and become parts of a machine: "I am the lever"; I am the dial"; Iam the motor....
  • There ae dozens more but you can also play brain games in groups. "You are in a plane crash. Which items do you salvage and rank each one. (ACTUAL EXERCISE used by US military-- I will share if there is interest with answer guide.)


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Hi LJ! 

I've found that simply giving the VISTAs a chance to gather together outside of work helps them to connect and build friendships. You can also encourage bonding in any training you do by having them break out into small groups. Make sure the groups are different each time so they all get the chance to work with each other and don't just work with the same few friends every time. 

One of our most popular activities is something called a challenge lab, where we split them into groups of three. Each VISTA gets a set amount of time to discuss a challenge they've been facing at their site and the other two VISTAs give feedback. It allows people to vent in a constructive way, bond over shared experiences, and skills like conflict management, problem sovling, and active listening. Again, make sure the groups are different each time.

Of course, there are also the classic team building and trust activities that you can try.  One time we did an icebreaker where the VISTAs had to navigate a particular path across a square grid by memory and without talking. The VISTAs lined up to attempt the path one at a time. The leader would tell the VISTA when they made a wrong step, and they went to the end of the line.  We recently did an activity where everyone wrote down five identities/values that are important to them. They had to find a partner and tell them their values and why they chose them. Everyone then had to pick one value to rip up. They were told to find a new partner and the process continued until only one value was left.  It was pretty challenging for a lot of people, but it was good for introspection and getting to know the values of others. 

I hope this helps!


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