I’ve never been involved in the planning of a women’s retreat, but the “Café Chocolat” retreat kit by Group Publishing seems to have everything you need to do just that. The “Read Me First” insert gives a good overview of the contents of the kit and how the retreat is supposed to work. This card also showcased a couple of the product bundles available for purchase for each retreat guest.
The kit contained the “Café Chocolat Extra Value Pack” consisting of the Café Chocolat Tote Bag, Journal, Music CD and God’s Grace Bracelet. The Tote Bag is a bit on the flimsy side. It holds the other items in the kit with room to spare, but I don’t think you could put much more in there because of the thinness of the material the bag is made of. The Journal is absolutely a MUST-HAVE for each guest! This charming book is a terrific take-away from the retreat containing all Scripture verses, song lyrics, a devotional, a Bible study sample and much more. I will personally refer to this book again and again. The Music CD is fantastic! There’s a country flavor to these beautiful worship songs that had me and my daughter singing along as we sampled it! This is a keeper, too. The God’s Grace Bracelet is a delightful keepsake of the event. The strawberry shaped charm is lovely but the elastic that holds the bracelet together is flimsy. It broke the second time I took it off my wrist. But I liked the charm so much I added it to a cross necklace that I wear.
The Leader Resources are heavy-duty tri-fold booklets containing the teaching for each of the six sessions of the retreat and a separate guide for worship. Each booklet contains all of the information you need to run each session.
The Director Resources consist of a step-by-step guide for planning and preparation of a delightful event that will draw women of all ages to encounter God’s grace. The supply list in the back was a complete shopping list for the event.
There is also a DVD for leader training and a CD with just the music for the songs as well as promotional clip art and other printables.
The chocolate theme entices all age groups to come learn about God’s grace. In fact, I brought the session books to work to look them over and every co-worker who came into my cubicle had to ask me about it and look at the delicious photographs on the materials.
So, after reading through the materials, I planned a mini-retreat for myself at locations around my neighborhood and home to just get away with God and be refreshed by His personal teaching. The Director Resource materials came in handy for planning. I created a shopping list based on the recommendations in the guidebook. I made a centerpiece for myself based on the instructions in the book. And I will make these centerpieces again! They are lovely.
Instead of making one chocolate wrap as a service project, I made chocolate scented candles and gave them to the ladies in my Sunday School class. I celebrated the completion of my retreat by eating my centerpiece! After this experience, I can see that this retreat could be orchestrated with very few volunteers depending upon the number of attendees. This kit was a thorough way to plan a fun and life-changing retreat experience.