Going on a church retreat? Whether it’s your very first retreat or you’re a yearly attendee, this church retreat packing list will ensure that you don’t forget any important church retreat essentials for your trip.
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First, it’s important to note that your retreat’s location plays a large role in what you will need to bring. As you could imagine, if your retreat is taking place on a campground, your packing list will look a little different than if your retreat is taking place at a hotel or resort conference center. Season will also play a role.
We’ll go over all of the must-haves for both location types in this church retreat packing list, but it may be worth researching your unique retreat location before packing to make sure you bring everything you need.
Now, let’s go over the quick list of what to pack for church retreat before diving into more detail about each packing list item.
Church Retreat Packing List
- Bible highlighters.
- Retreat center appropriate clothing (hotel vs. camp).
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sweater/lightweight jacket.
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, skin care, etc.).
- Reusable water bottle.
- Bluetooth speaker.
- Earplugs/noise-canceling headphones.
- Day bag.
- Camp essentials if needed (sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight, bath towel, etc.)
What do people do at church retreats?
At church retreats, people come together for a weekend of worship sessions, speaker messages, topical seminar-style breakout sessions, fun activities, rest and community.
Usually, a weekend church retreat itinerary looks something like this:
1. Check in.
2. Main session (welcome from church staff, worship and a speaker message).
3. Free time.
2. Main session.
3. Breakout session.
5. Breakout session.
6. Free time.
8. Main session.
9. Free time.
2. Main session.
3. Pack/clean up.
4. Check out.
How do you prepare for a church retreat?
All you really have to do to prepare for a church retreat is pack. There is no need to otherwise prepare physically, mentally or spiritually. Come as you are!
If you want to feel more spiritually prepared for a church retreat, you can pray that God will prepare your heart for the retreat weekend ahead. Here’s a sample prayer you can use.
“Dear God, thank you so much for this opportunity to attend church retreat. I don’t know what you have planned for me to learn and experience on this trip, but I pray that you prepare my heart, mind, body and soul to receive whatever you have to offer. In Jesus name, amen.”
What do you wear to a church retreat?
Casual attire is appropriate for the majority of church retreats. Some churches and Christian campsites have dress codes, such as no leggings or bikinis, but, for the most part, you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable in to a church retreat.
Again, what you wear will depend heavily on whether your retreat is taking place at a hotel or campground. Take the free time activities (hotel spa and pool vs. hiking and outdoor activities) into consideration before packing.
What To Pack For A Church Retreat
Now, let’s dive a little deeper into the specifics of what to pack for a church retreat.
If you don’t own a Bible or don’t want to pack your physical Bible, the free YouVersion Bible app will work perfectly.
If you want to bring a physical Bible but aren’t sure which translation to bring, I recommend opting for the NIV or ESV translations. Those two translations are the most popular. Some church denominations prefer the KJV translation, but the NIV and ESV are generally easier to understand. Regardless, any translation will do.
I have personally used this NIV study Bible for years, and I love it.
Next, I also highly recommend bringing a notebook and/or journal to take notes during the main sessions and breakout sessions.
You definitely don’t need to take notes, but usually about half of the retreat attendees are actively taking notes, so you won’t be the only one.
Naturally, you’ll want to bring pens and/or pencils to take notes as well.
If you’re picky about your pens like I am, I recommend bringing these fine point Sharpie pens for a smooth write. These pens have lasted years for me.
However, do not write in your Bible margins with these pens. The ink will bleed through the paper.
4. Bible Highlighters
Speaking of ink bleeding through thin Bible paper, if you want to highlight verses in your Bible, bring these Bible highlighters and pens.
Bible highlighters are specifically designed for thin Bible paper. They won’t bleed through, so you are free to highlight any verses you want.
5. Hotel Conference Center Clothing
As previously mentioned, the clothing you’ll want to pack will depend on a couple factors: seasonal weather and location.
If your church retreat is taking place at a hotel or resort conference center, you’re basically safe to pack any seasonally appropriate outfits — cute or comfortable — that you wish.
6. Camp Clothing (Church Retreat Packing List)
Now, if your retreat is taking place on a church campground, on the other hand, you’ll need to take this environment into consideration when packing clothes.
If your retreat is the summer, pack shorts and T-shirts.
If your retreat is in the winter, pack plenty of extra warm pants, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters/sweatshirts, socks, snow pants, winter boots and a warm winter coat.
Finally, if your retreat is in the fall or spring, pack pants, long-sleeved shirts and layering sweaters/sweatshirts. As a general rule of thumb, error on the side of cold weather when camping.
Of course, you’ll want to pack pajamas for your overnight church retreat too.
If your retreat is at a campground, you’ll probably be sleeping on bunks in a cabin. Some campgrounds have heated cabins, but pack extra warm pajamas (sweatpants, sweatshirt and socks) just in case.
8. Swimsuit (Church Retreat Packing List)
This next church retreat packing list item is optional, but if your retreat center has a pool, sauna, lake or other swimming activities, bring a swimsuit.
Ladies, if you’re looking for a cute, affordable one-piece suit, I absolutely love my chic black one-piece from Amazon.
9. Tennis Shoes
Furthermore, many retreat activities, regardless of retreat location, require tennis shoes. Obviously, if you’re staying at a hotel, the physical activity will be limited to optional exercise classes and/or hotel fitness center use.
On the contrary, if you’re staying on a campground, there will be many more free time activities that solicit gym shoes. For example, many campgrounds offer hiking, archery, ropes courses, zip lining and more.
10. Sweater Or Lightweight Jacket
No matter what location or season, it’s always a good idea to bring a sweater, sweatshirt and/or lightweight jacket on every trip. Conference centers are cold. Summer nights get chilly. You get the idea.
11. Toiletries (Church Retreat Packing List)
Some toiletries you won’t want to forget on your retreat include the following.
- Skin care products.
- Hair care products.
- Body wash.
- Feminine hygiene products.
This is not an extensive toiletries list by any means, but it is your reminder to pack your toiletries, nonetheless.
Another toiletry worth individually noting is a package of facial tissues.
Sometimes, deep conversations at church retreats result in a few (good) tears. I always make sure to have this travel size pack of tissues in my day bag every day of the trip.
13. Reusable Water Bottle
Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle to fill and have in your day bag each day.
Your busy itinerary will leave little room for remembering to hydrate, and the best solution to this problem is to have water on you at all times.
14. Bluetooth Speaker (Church Retreat Packing List)
Like the swimsuit, this church retreat packing list essential is optional. But, if you want the ability to play music in your hotel room or cabin, or by the camp bonfire, I definitely suggest bringing a bluetooth speaker.
My family is brand loyal to this Bose travel bluetooth speaker, and for good reason. The sound quality is great in any space even outdoors.
But, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, this travel-friendly JBL blue speaker is an excellent alternative. I also love that this speaker comes with an attached clip, and it’s waterproof.
15. Earplugs/Noise-Canceling Headphones
On the other hand, if you’re sensitive to noise when you’re sleeping, bring earplugs and/or noise-canceling headphones.
You will more than likely be sharing a room with at least three other people (10+ people if you’re sleeping in a cabin), so if you need silence to sleep, you’ll regret not bringing something to cover your ears.
Again, my family is loyal to these Bose noise-canceling headphones (Bose is loved by airline pilots and travelers worldwide). Not only are these headphones great for canceling out extra noise, but they are incredible for listening to music while respecting others around you!
If you just need to tune out the chaos around you without listening to music, these cheap earplugs will do the trick, too. These are great for solo devotional time, so you can keep yourself focused.
16. Day Bag (Church Retreat Packing List)
Now, as I’ve briefly mentioned already, it’s wise to bring a smaller day bag in addition to your suitcase to carry your Bible, notebook, pens, pencils, highlighters, water bottle and any other items you might want during the main sessions and breakout sessions.
That way, you won’t have to carry everything in your arms, or walk back and forth from your room every hour.
I absolutely love my Beis work tote for church retreats, traveling in general and as my day-to-day purse at home.
17. Church Retreat Camp Essentials
Last but not least, if you are going on a church retreat that is located on a campground, you have a few additional essentials that you will need to pack.
- Sleeping bag.
- Fitted sheet (if required).
- Shampoo, conditioner and body wash (not provided like in hotels).
- Bath towel and washcloth.
- Shower shoes.
- Warm pajamas.
- Hiking boots and/or tennis shoes.
- Battery operated fan (optional — I absolutely love my lanyard battery fan from Amazon for traveling).
- S’more ingredients (for fun).
Was this church retreat packing list helpful? If you have any questions or items you would add to the list, comment in the reply section below or send me a DM on Instagram. I’m happy to help!
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