We often hear from group leaders who suddenly find themselves recruiting for a church weekend away. So if that’s you and you’re looking for some hints and tips about what to do first and what never to do, here are a few of our tried and tested pointers…

So, your church leadership has decided that your church or youth group will go away. The Castle has been booked, and inadvertantly you find that you are doing all the organising for the trip away. (Note to self – listen more carefully when the pastor asks you to do something – don’t just say “yes, of course I will” automatically!)

And now you’re lumbered, and you begin to feel the pressure of having to fill the places, but people just don’t seem keen to sign up… and, of course, you don’t want the Treasurer harassing you when the books don’t balance at the end of the weekend. So what do you do?

Well, be assured that you’re not alone in feeling like this… others before and after you will experience the same sleepless nights worrying about it. We know how it can feel, we have put together a handy little list of things that you can do to help you encourage as many people as possible to sign up.

So, relax, take a deep breath, read on, then try putting some of these things into practice! We suggest you:

1) Let people know early
Announce your residential in good time, and include details in a notice sheet, magazine, on noticeboards – wherever people will see it. And don’t do it once – keep talking about it.

2) Do some church weekend promo
Maybe show a PowerPoint presentation to get people interested and excited. Include the dates, cost, name of speaker, special activities planned and so on. Or you could show one of our videos (available on our site) to get people talking and excited.

3) Come visit us with your camera
If you have clever creative people in your group, encourage them to come to The Castle to make a promotional DVD to show to everyone. The more publicity the better.

4) Ask your leaders to help
Make sure your church or youth group leader speaks positively and excitedly about the trip away – you don’t want everyone else thinking it is all just for your benefit. And if you are the church or youth group leader… make sure you speak positively and excitedly about it, obviously!

5) Make it easy to pay
Set up a payment-by-instalment scheme to help those who want to spread the cost.

6) Share the burden
Get a group together to organise your programme and get all of them involved in recruiting their friends too.

7) Be creative in your programme planning.
What could you do differently or new to encourage people to come on your weekend? Ever thought of a murder mystery evening? Or a campfire praise evening? Explore the Castle for more ideas.

8) Make full use of all the activities available on site
Get to know what’s available yourself and make sure you tell everyone about what they can do.

9) Consider asking another church or youth group to join with you for the weekend
You’ve then got a larger group of people to ask; and shared fellowship can be of great benefit.

10) Look at ways of reducing the cost to make the trip more affordable.
Organise activities yourselves, rather than buying in activities from a provider – check out our activity ideas.

Remember, all the way through your planning to keep in touch with our staff – don’t panic on your own. The sooner you tell us your numbers are a bit on the low side, the easier it is for us to make some suggestions to help you.

We hope that inspiring other people to join you for a church weekend away will go well and not feel like a burden.