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Retreat Planning Guide

Jump to a specific step:

Step 1: Determine the purpose of your retreat
Step 2: Determine the best time to hold your retreat
Step 3: Reserve your retreat facilities
Step 4: Create the program and schedule
Step 5: Determine the facility arrangement
Step 6: Arrange meals and snacks
Step 7: Complete your contract
Step 8: Things to do before you arrive
Step 9: What to do when you arrive
Step 10: How to check out
Step 11: Making a reservation

Step 1: Determine the purpose of your retreat
Establish the purpose of your retreat and formulate your goals and objectives. Is your purpose to reflect, unify, learn, or train? Would you like to emphasize team building or worship?

Organize a planning team and assign specific tasks and responsibilities. Assign one person to act as the group’s liaison with SAMBICA and other vendors.

Estimate your budget. Consider offering scholarships to those who can’t afford the trip on their own.

Step 2: Determine the best time to hold your retreat
Check local school calendars and note holidays that may conflict with your preferred retreat dates.

Step 3: Reserve your retreat facilities
Estimate your lowest and highest number of possible attendance to help you determine size of facilities your group will need. View SAMBICA’s facilities online. Check availability and receive a customized price quote by submitting an eventy inquiry. Talk through the specifics of each room with our Guest Services Manager to help you decide which facility will provide the best environment for your group. Check to see when facilities may be available to tour. Then, reserve your retreat dates with SAMBICA.


Step 4: Program and schedule
Determine the specifics of your retreat schedule. Share your activity plans and schedule with our Guest Services Manager. Let us help you brainstorm activity ideas and ensure that you have everything you need to facilitate your plans.

Here are some things to consider as you plan your retreat’s activities:

Will you be inviting a special guest speaker? SAMBICA offers a special Speaker’s Cabin complete with a full size bed, linens, and bedding. This private room can be added to pamper your special guest.

Do you have an arts or craft project planned? Crafts offer great entertainment for younger guests and a memorable keepsake from your event. You may consider using an additional meeting room for your craft time. A second space can be set up ahead of time with tables and craft supplies to help you avoid down time associated with rearranging your meeting space. Messy projects may not be permitted in some meeting rooms. Talk through your plans with our Guest Services Manager to ensure that your projects are completed in a proper environment and that precautions are put in place to avoid damaging meeting rooms. SAMBICA may also be able to provide your group with an arts and craft facilitator and supplies if desired.

Will you be having small group discussions? Breakout rooms can be added to provide an additional place to hold small group discussions, activities, or workshops. We commonly recommend our Breakout Boardroom for small group activities. Check with our Guest Services Manager to see which facilities are available.

Will you play any games or participate in teambuilding exercises? Have fun and help your group bond as a team by including icebreaker games, a friendly game of baseball, or teambuilding elements.

Sports – SAMBICA has a basketball court, a volleyball court, and a sports field for baseball, soccer, football, etc. Sports areas may be reserved for exclusive use by your group for a planned game. When areas are unreserved they are open to all groups on the grounds. SAMBICA can provide most sports equipment free of charge.

Teambuilding elements – From games and low initiatives to personality styles training, SAMBICA offers a variety of tools to help your team work together more efficiently. With the help of a SAMBICA facilitator, your group can utilize SAMBICA’s low challenge course elements including a Lava Crossing and Spider’s Web.

Will you include some of SAMBICA’s onsite activities in your schedule? Consider using the following:

  • Game room – includes table games like foosball and air hockey
  • High ropes course
  • Miniature golf
  • Swimming, boating and kayaking (seasonal)
  • Campfire

Reserve these activities in advance to ensure availability.

Will you be exploring local area attractions? There is so much to do just minutes from SAMBICA in Seattle, Bellevue, and Snoqualmie pass. The following links will provide you with just a few ideas of local attractions to consider:

The Space Needle and Seattle Center
Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Pass – Skiing, snow tubing, and snow shoeing
Nature walks and hikes
Bellevue Botanical Gardens

SAMBICA does not offer transportation to offsite locations. However, a bus stop and transit center are nearby to provide bus service to many locations.

Did you have a special activity in mind? Movies with popcorn, a campfire with s’mores, an afternoon tea, or an evening snack or hot beverage are a few examples for the special extras that SAMBICA can facilitate for your group. Talk with our Guest Services Manager to customize a special activity for your group.

Step 5: Determine the facility arrangement
Consider your facilities set up and what equipment you will need. SAMBICA can provide a variety of furniture and equipment for your group. All items need to be arranged with the Guest Services Manager prior to your group’s arrival to ensure availability.

Meeting room set up – The set up of meeting rooms is customized for each group. Choose a seating arrangement to meet your groups’ needs. Meeting Room Set Up Chart.

Equipment – Each room is equipped with a TV/VCR/DVD system. Equipment including a sound system, LCD projector, overhead projector, whiteboard, and flipchart are available upon pre-arrival request (some amenities come at an additional charge).

Sleeping cabins – SAMBICA’s sleeping accommodations are bunk bed style. Guests are responsible for providing their own bedding. SAMBICA can rent bedding to your group if arrangements are made prior to your group’s arrival at a cost of $15.00 per bed.

Step 6: Arrange meals and snacks
Meals are served in our Dining Hall. Generally, each group on the grounds enjoys their meals at the same time. Your host will assign your group specific tables in the Dining Hall. Standard meal times are set at 8:00am breakfast, 12:00pm lunch, and 6:00pm dinner. Meals are started together as a group and served buffet style. Respecting meal times is necessary to assure the quality of your meal.

Special arrangements to provide your group with private meals, table linens, or customized meal times may be arranged while booking your stay. Availability of these kinds of special arrangements may be limited.

Vegetarian options are not regularly prepared for meals. Vegetarian requests need to be arranged prior to your group’s arrival. Unfortunately we are unable to provide vegan meals. Please notify our Guest Services Manager prior to your arrival of any special dietary needs and food allergies within your group. Guests with strict dietary needs are welcome to bring food items to supplement their meals. Your group coordinator must provide SAMBICA with an attendance count for meals, vegetarian requests, and all allergy restrictions by 10:00am, at least 7 days prior to your group’s arrival. During your stay please notify your group’s host if your meal count will significantly differ from the contracted number.

SAMBICA staff will facilitate all food preparation and clean up for meals. However, we do ask guests to clear their dirty dishes from the table following each meal.

No cooking is allowed in any of the buildings outside of the Dining Hall. Pre-packaged snack food and bottled non-alcoholic beverages are permitted in the buildings. Delivered pizza and other take-out food items are not allowed on the camp grounds. To simplify your planning, arrange for SAMBICA to provide delicious snacks or bedtime treats when booking your stay.

Coffee and tea service is included with your stay. Most of our facilities offer selfservice coffee stations stocked with a supply of regular and decaffeinated coffee, a variety of teas, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and non-dairy creamer.

Step 7: Complete your contract
Ensure that all of your needs are clearly communicated with our Guest Services Manager and that all of your activities and special food services are included in your group’s contract. Read over our Rental Policies and understand your financial responsibility. Return your contact to SAMBICA with your deposit.

Step 8: Things to do before you arrive
Seven days before your arrival, contact the Guest Services Associate with your final attendance, meal count, and food allergies information.

  • Double check your contract to ensure accuracy.
  • Inform SAMBICA of any activity or schedule changes during your stay.
  • Inform SAMBICA of any room set up or equipment changes.
  • Inform SAMBICA of any additional food allergies or vegetarian attendees.
  • Prepare all necessary materials prior to your retreat (print off all handouts, prepare overhead sheets, etc.). SAMBICA’s office is closed over weekends, and our office equipment will be unavailable for use by guest groups. SAMBICA can provide your group with basic office supplies such as paper clips, thumbtacks, and dry erase markers, if necessary. The use of tape is not allowed on any of our facility walls.
  • Pack and bring a first aid kit to attend to minor injuries. Arrange for liability insurance and primary medical coverage through your organization. SAMBICA offers no medical or accidental coverage to guest group attendees.
  • If you have youth attending your retreat, collect medical release forms signed by their parents.
  • Ensure that each attendee will be prepared for a relaxing getaway by providing them with all of the information they need including:
    • Packing list
    • Bedding – Pillow and sleeping bag or sheets and blankets (most beds are extra long twins except in the country cabins)
    • Towels and washcloths
    • Clothing and toiletries
    • Note pad and pen
    • Other retreat specific items
    • Event schedule – Inform your attendees of your contracted arrival and departure times as well as scheduled meal times.
    • Inform attendees where to park, and where to check in. SAMBICA recommends that attendees check in with the group leader in the meeting space upon arrival. SAMBICA’s office is closed on weekends but a reader board and campus map is located outside the Main Office with information regarding each group’s location and a phone number to reach the host on duty.
    • Distribute driving directions, a campus map, and guest rules to all attendees to help them find appropriate parking and your meeting facility. Help ensure a safe and enjoyable  experience for your attendees by familiarizing them with SAMBICA’s ground rules and policies prior to arrival. Download an Attendee Handout.
    • Use our easy Retreat Planning Check List to help with all the details prior to your arrival.

Step 9: What to do when you arrive
Guest group leaders must check in with the host on duty upon arrival. Check in takes place in the Main Office. If you are checking in after office hours, call your host at the number provided on the reader board in front of the office. Your host will unlock your facility.

Plan to have retreat leaders arrive before attendees to unload and unpack supplies before attendees arrive. If your group is bringing heavy items, consider bringing a dolly or wagon to transport equipment from parking areas to your facilities. Provide SAMBICA with a final attendance count.

Enjoy your retreat! Contact your host with any last minute requests or needs. We are unable to meet all unplanned requests but let us know and we will do our best to make sure that you are comfortable and well taken care of.

Step 10: How to check out
As your group is preparing to leave, please keep the following in mind: 

Check your contract for your group’s specific check out time. If your group will be departing earlier than stated, please inform your host of the change in your plans. If your group anticipates a later departure than stated on your contract, please check with your host to ensure the availability of your facility. Additional charges may be applied to accommodate a significant extended stay.

Please place trash in trash cans located throughout your facility. SAMBICA’s staff will empty trash cans and clean facilities after your group departs.

Please ensure that all of your equipment is taken with you when you leave. Double check the facilities to ensure that your attendees have not forgotten any items. Any lost items found by SAMBICA will be held in SAMBICA’s Main Office for a short duration following your group’s departure. SAMBICA is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

You must contact your host to inform them of your departure and to check out before leaving. At check out, please return any sports equipment and other items, go over the final invoice with your host, report any facility damages, and point out any items that may need to be reported to our maintenance staff.

After your retreat, we would love to hear your feedback regarding your stay. Please take a moment to complete our short online evaluation.

It’s never too early to plan for your next retreat or event. Planning early will ensure you the date of your choice. If you know of other organizations or groups that may be planning a retreat, we appreciate your referrals.

Step 11: Making a reservation
Now that you have worked through steps 1 to 10 you’re ready to take the final step by contacting SAMBICA to check availability and/or receive a customized price quote. You can complete the online event inquiry form or send email to Lily at . Either way there is no obligation. To speak with a SAMBICA representative, please call our Events department at 1-888-SAMBICA.


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