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Christian Retreats Network

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Rotating Groups

By Kayla

Do you ever pay attention to the dinner line at social events?  You have those who are so eager to eat that they jump right up and try to be the first in line.  Then there are those who would rather hit the dessert table first to avoid the dinner line and what will be the dessert line later.  Or maybe they go grab their drink first.  The final type is those who simply wait at their seat until the line gets shorter because they would rather wait while sitting than standing.  Now, if everyone went straight for the dinner line at the same time, then it would take a long time for everyone to get through.  Then there would be the same lines again at the drink and dessert tables.  It would take all night.  What they need to do is rotate.

The same applies to event planning for large groups.  Some planners simply structure their schedule and call it good.  When everyone is doing the same activity at once (which probably can’t hold everyone) then they struggle to get everyone through in a decent time.  By the end, some may simply opt out or become bored.  But there are some simple ways to split up a group to make everything run more efficiently.

You may be wondering what factors would facilitate the ways in which a group is split.  For something like a youth retreat, you could split boys and girls.  Many camps choose to do teams, in which campers arrive knowing whether  they are on team purple or orange.  The simplest way to designate groups is by a wristband color.  That way the leader, as well as the other guests, don’t have to remember who should be in what group.

Make dining intervals.  Since my example talked about food, I will start there.  Even with our buffet dining, we see groups try to put all 1,000 guests through at one time, leaving a line out the door and all the way down the sidewalk.  By spacing out intervals for dining, guests will be able to arrive in a timely manner to have minimal lines, meaning they can do something else with their time instead of standing around fighting off a growling stomach.  Even just a 15-minute gap between groups will make a difference on that line length.  This will also have them all leaving at different times so that they don’t congest the trash areas.

Workshops are a prime area to work through rotations.  Schedule a few at the same time.  Then have some people start in each workshop.  After they are through, everyone leaves and moves into the next one.  Each person doesn’t have to do every session.  Use your signup sheet to have them pick the two they want to participate in.  Offer each one twice, so that everyone can rotate through the ones they want to attend.

Recreation activities can work the same way.  For example, the human foosball arena can only hold 12 players at a time, meaning you shouldn’t send all 100 guests there at once.  Have the others split between rock climbing, mini golf, and basketball.  They do their activity for 30 minutes and then all switch. 

Not everyone has to do the activities at once.  If your event spans a few days, schedule each activity every day, but then each group will do one activity a day.  No matter how you divide things up, rotating your group will help keep things running smoothly while avoiding lines and boredom.  Just make sure to map it out for yourself to make things easier.

Christian Retreats Network /

Based at Lake Williamson / PO Box 620 / Carlinville, IL 62626