Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2020

Planning the Retreat

by Rachel Slonicki

My dear friend and mentor, Mui Ho, newsletter editor, asked me to write a description of the role of the Retreat Administrator for OWA as a record for future administrators as well as to entice other members to take on this role when I finish my term. I have been the retreat administrator 3+ years. My responsibility is to select the date for the retreat which occurs in a September weekend that is not a religious or Labor Day holiday. This weekend retreat have been held in Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma California for the past years, I worked with Heather Sprague, the retreat treasurer to reserve the venue three years in advance.

There are many bookings and arrangements to manage regarding the retreat events. In October, a budget for the next retreat is created for OWA treasurer, Judy Rowe who will present it to the membership at the annual business meeting along with the previous year’s expenditures. Most of the planning of the retreat activities occurs between January and May.

The administrator works with the retreat committee members, retreat treasurer, steering committee, the webmaster, and the treasurer to pull together the events. During these months, save the date announcements and a retreat flyer are prepared and sent to the members. June is predominately spent contacting members to remind them of the early bird special. The summer months involve outreach to members to meet the minimum quota of attendees and sending the Ranch required paperwork. The retreat administrator fields requests for scholarships. In August, the month before the retreat, the retreat coordinator communicates with the staff at Westerbeke Ranch and with the treasurer to finalize tallies for meals, cabins, campers, and day use attendees. We issue a retreat packet, schedule, questionnaire, and coordinate carpools.

At the retreat, my responsible as the administrator is the greeting of guests, Ranch staff, presenters, and managing the events as the days unfold. The retreat treasurer pays the invoices for the various parties contributing services to the event. The retreat administrator is responsible for creating comfortable environment for the guests as well as addressing unforeseen circumstances as they might arise. At the end of the retreat, the retreat committee is selected from attendees who volunteer to plan the next year’s retreat. A list of topics is suggested by the attendees. The topics are voted on, documented, and establish thematic guidelines to plan the next year's events.

Janet Crane was the retreat administrator for approximately 30 years. Janet, Judy, and Heather have been valuable resources to navigate through the intricacies of the position. Mui suggested that the position might be a rotating position, maybe turning over every five years. Because of the myriad of details, it takes a year to shadow the previous administrator and then another year for them to shadow your planning. Reciprocal to the time and energy I have invested to fulfill my obligation, has been the kind notes and comments from members who appreciated their experiences at these annual gatherings.

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