As Lake Williamson’s Program Director, I try to connect with every retreat leader about our adventure programs. We offer a wide variety of program options, from escape rooms to high ropes, and I want our group leaders to know all that we can do for them.
A much-repeated response I hear is, “We are a women’s/men’s/older group. So, we wouldn’t be interested in that kind of thing.” And I am always surprised with that response.
You see, I’m no spring chicken myself, being on the other side of 50 years. Some of my hobbies include backpacking, caving, rappelling, biking, and marathon running. I started all of those hobbies later in life. What I often find is that I am one of the “kids” in the group. I’m backpacking with retirees. I’m caving and rappelling with men and women well into their 60s. I have met 80-year-olds running marathons and biking 100 miles.
The fact is many adults, both men and women, would love a chance to climb a rock wall, go down a zip line, or solve an escape room. To date, our oldest zip liner was a 78-year-old woman, who told me afterwards that she had undergone quadruple by-pass surgery the month before her retreat.
One of my favorite high ropes programs was a group of adult women of various ages. As we finished the program with a debriefing, one of the older women began sharing how she never thought she would ever do something like this. She went on to credit the other women in the group for helping her have the courage to try. Soon, the entire group was crying and hugging each other.
Retreat leaders, are you assuming your group wouldn’t be interested in an adventure program, or have you asked them about it? Attendees wander into our program areas every week and ask, “How can I do this?” My response is always, “Talk to your group leader about including it in your next retreat.” (Your group doesn’t have to do high ropes! Most CRN properties offer team-oriented programs that keep your feet firmly on the ground.)
I would encourage you to stop assuming and start asking your attendees. You may be surprised in the amount of interest your group has in an adventure program.