In order to prepare for recruitment, many chapters host a retreat for their active members. This is a great opportunity to get members away from their busy lives (and other distractions), keep them focused on the upcoming recruitment, and give them time to reconnect and bond. It’s also the perfect opportunity to reunite your members after their summer holidays and get everyone on the same page again. Recruitment retreats are held at various venues, depending on the chapter. Some chapters host weekend excursions in a neighboring city while others lock their members in the chapter house for eight hours a day. While other venue options may sound fun, remember that you need to tailor your retreat to your chapter’s needs. You also need to plan ahead to ensure that your venue, and more importantly, your members are available. Here are some examples of retreat venues and how they can benefit your chapter’s recruitment.
A secluded venue, such as a cabin or rental house on a big lot, is great for a recruitment retreat as it gives your chapter complete and utter privacy. Your members will spend all day and all night together as there is literally no one else around. This is a good option for chapters who want to build their brother/sisterhood, or who have members who are easily distracted. The one downside to this venue is that, because of the seclusion, it’s not easy to leave and come back. This could present a problem for members who have other obligations (work, etc.), need to come late, or need to leave early. Additionally, hosting a retreat at a secluded venue also requires a lot of advanced planning, especially for food. If you choose a secluded venue for your retreat, make sure you overestimate the amount of food and drinks you’ll need as you don’t want your retreat turning into a Greek version of the Donner party.
Beach House/Lake House
Renting a beach or lake house for your recruitment retreat is, let’s be honest, a great way to get your members to show up. Sororities have found the beach house extremely successful as many sisters are more willing to practice songs, learn chapter history, and mock recruit while getting a tan. A lake house can also be great for a fraternity or sorority as members (or the chapter if you’re feeling generous) can rent jet skis, go boating, or see who can jump the furthest from the dock. A beach or lake house is great for a chapter who has a hard time getting members to come out. Whether your members are busy with work, taking summer school or just back at home, hosting a beachfront or lakeside recruitment retreat is sure to entice your members back. The downside to a beach or lake house is the cost and the room. Most chapters don’t budget for a full-on rental house, so be sure to plan ahead for the extra cost if necessary. Also, make sure the house you rent can fit your entire chapter. Beach and lake houses are probably not the best option for 100+ member chapters… however, if your mind is set, look for side-by-side rentals (two neighboring houses, rented together).
An easy option for recruitment retreat is renting out classrooms on campus. Most universities don’t charge fraternities or sororities, so this is a great way to keep your costs down. Additionally, if the majority of your chapter is living on or around campus, the university venue is easy and convenient, giving your members few reasons to not show up. The down side to this venue is that, well, it’s just classrooms. No wilderness like the secluded cabin, option of tanning like the beach house, and definitely no 24-hour retreat as the university probably won’t let you sleep in the classrooms. With the university venue, your recruitment retreat will end up being more serious than with other venues simply because your members will want to learn everything and get out (who wants to spend their last days of a summer in a classroom?). This is a downside because your members might not bond as much as at another venue. However, the upside is that you can set a more serious tone at your retreat which is a great thing for chapters who have a hard time keeping their members’ attention.
Another cost-effective venue option is your chapter house. If your house is big enough to accommodate your members (remember, you need more space than just a regular chapter meeting), hosting retreat at the chapter house can be beneficial in more ways than one. First, members who don’t live in the house will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves. Second, since your house is private (after all, you do perform ritual in it), you’ll have no problem with outside distractions. Finally, as many chapters use their houses for the actual recruitment events, your members will be able to practice in the real venue. Like the university venue, hosting the recruitment retreat at your chapter house is a good option for chapters whose members are in town and around campus. It’s also good for chapters whose members can’t commit to an all weekend event as you probably don’t want the entire chapter sleeping in the house.
Combined Retreat (Other University or College)
If your chapter has good relations with another chapter of your fraternity or sorority, consider combining your recruitment retreats. This is beneficial to both chapters as your members not only get to meet members of another chapter, but they also get to practice recruiting with people they don’t know (making your members more likely to take things seriously). Combined recruitment retreats only really work for chapters who are located in close proximity. If you want to have a retreat with a chapter that’s 200 miles away, you might want to rethink things. Remember to consider travel time as well as lodging if the other chapter’s house is far away. If your chapter is new (recently chartered or re-chartered) or has little recruitment experience, a combined retreat may be ideal as your chapter can learn from experienced members of the same organization.
Location: Home or Away
Finally, when planning your retreat consider where your members are. While many older members may be living around campus (for summer school, work, etc.) many younger members have probably gone home for the summer. If your recruitment retreat is planned for the end of summer, before the majority of your members return, consider having your retreat in the most convenient place possible. If the majority of your members are around campus, have your retreat in town. If the majority of your members live near X city, consider having retreat there instead. The most important part about the recruitment retreat is member attendance. No matter where you plan your retreat or how well you schedule each day, nothing will matter if your members don’t show up.
This post was generously provided by ChapterBoard.