Sentlhane Retreats
Types of Retreat

Types of Retreats

Personal / Individual Retreats

Retreating by yourself (Self Retreat) and spending little or no time interacting with other people.

Small Groups Retreats

Retreating with a few other people, like 5 - 10.

Large Group Retreats

Retreating with a dozen or more people.

Social Retreat

Retreating with some social interaction with others.

Silent Retreat

Remaining silent during your entire retreat, or at least portions of it. For example, you may be silent most of the time but participate in seminars and visit over meal times. Or you may have silent meals but meet with a retreat director. There are various degrees of silence.

Solitude Retreat

Retreating in isolation like at a seculded hermitage cabin or a private area in a retreat centre. With a solitude retreat you are not only silent with other people, you are not interacting with them at all.

Directed / Guided Retreat

Retreating under the guidance of a person such as a spiritual director, counselor, pastor or retreat director. This may be helpful if a person is new at retreating or unsure how to retreat. This can also be helpful if a person is retreating for a specific purpose such as working through a particular life issue.

Structured Retreat

Retreating with the guidance of a schedule or rhythm. structure could come from yourself, a book, a retreat director or a religious tradition such as the Benedictine Rule. Retreat structures can range from rigid to flexible, intense to relaxed. An entire retreat can be scheduled or portions can be. Structured retreats may be helpful for people who don't know how to spend time retreating as it gives them a rhythm to feel comfortable with. Structured retreats can also be helpful for people trying to focus on certain spiritual disciplines such as silence, fasting or writing as the schedule ensures these things happen.

Unstructured Retreat

Retreating with little or no structure where you are free to do as you please. This type of spontaneous retreat works well for people who have no problem retreating and filling the time. Not that goal is to "fill" the time, in fact the idea of retreating is to create time and space, not fill it. But some people have no problem allowing things to naturally flow while others prefer some structure to their retreats. Unstructured retreats may be good for people who need rest and relaxation rather than the pressure of following a certain rhythm.

Agenda Retreat

Retreating with a particular agenda or objective. people retreat because they want to work through a certain issue, catch up on their writing/journaling, work through a particular book, spend time with a particular person, catch up on some sleep and many other reasons people retreat for. If you go away with a certain goal in mind it is important to be intentional about how you spend your time and where you focus your attention.

Non-agenda Retreat

Retreating for no particular reason, other than to get away and enjoy God's presence for a while. These retreats can be very fulfilling as there is no particular agenda in mind so whatever comes out of the retreat time is gift. There are no specific expectation, just the anticipation of spending time with God and the benefits which flow from that.

Fasting Retreat

Retreating while abstaining from food or activities. Some people fast completely from all foods, while some limit themselves to no sugars, no desserts, no meat etc. Some limit themselves to one meal a day or just bread and water. Some people allow themselves fruit or juice to keep their blood sugars up. It's important to keep up your water intake and consult your physician before doing a fast, especially one lasting more than a few days. Some people fast from other things such as giving up alcohol, sex, T.V., reading or whatever during their retreat time.

Nature Retreat

Getting away into nature to enjoy God's presence in His creation. This might be a retreat centre which office a natural setting or it could be going hiking or camping with the intent of focusing on retreating.

City Retreat

Retreating in the city or town you live in. While it may not feel like the same kind of get away experience you get when you drive into the country or to the mountains, there are some retreat centres, churches and parks in the city which can provide an escape from your usual surroundings.

Marriage Retreat

Retreating with your spouse with the intent of enhancing your relationship. Some couples retreat separately but at the same time and location, spending time alone praying for their spouse and reading about marriage. There are many creative ways to do marriage retreats as individual couples or in groups.

Family Retreat

Retreat with family members with the intent of strengthening family ties as you spend quality time together.

Organized or Preached Retreats

These retreats tend to be in larger group settings where seminars and activities are planned in order to help people learn and grow in certain areas. These retreat sometimes feel more like conferences or camps.

Regular Daily Life Retreats

Retreating within your regular life schedule and setting. Rather than taking time to go away to a retreat centre some people choose to intentionally build retreating into their daily routine for a a few days or weeks. For example, they may take half an hour a day or an hour a week to go to the park over lunch or read quietly at home. To fit the definition of retreat this should be a deliberate short term change in routine; if it lasts for years then it is considered a spiritual discipline which you've nurtured into a way of life -terrific!

Day Retreats

Retreating for a day; roughly an 8 - 10 hour day, like a typical work or school day, though there are no specific rules around timing.

Half Day Retreats

Retreating just for the morning, the afternoon or the evening; perhaps 3 -4 hours out of your day.

Overnight Retreats

Retreating for one or more nights in a setting conducive to rest and reflection.

Extended Retreats

Retreating for several days or weeks. People have been known to retreat for weeks or even months at a time. While retreating for a few hours or days provides great benefit, some people suggest going really deep into your heart and soul requires several days or even weeks. The longer you retreat the more of an opportunity you have to open up your heart and soul to God. Some people have planned to retreat for a week and ended their retreat a few days early because they feel all was accomplished more quickly than they imagined. Others have extended their retreats longer than the original plan because they didn't feel they were done yet. So much of this decision making process is intuitive and depends on what your heart and mind are telling you. If a person retreats for years then it would no longer be considered a retreat but a lifestyle.

Regular Retreats

Retreating on a regular basis. Some people plan retreats monthly, quarterly or yearly, and they plan well in advance so they ensure it happens. Planning regular retreats this way can help build a healthy rhythm in your life rather than just waiting to see if or when a retreat might happen someday.

Church Retreats

Retreating with people from a church, likely sponsored by and organized by that church. Some retreats involve the entire congregation, some just the men or women and some are broken down into other categories, especially in bigger churches where the idea of all 3000 people going on a retreat is impossible. This can be a terrific opportunity to get to know your church family more deeply than possible in the 10 minutes in the foyer on Sunday mornings. You get to see people in a more realistic light as you visit over meal times and hang out together.

Business Retreats

Retreating with your work colleagues for the purpose of team building and/or corporate planning. While the term retreat is used for these events some people prefer to use the words conference, seminar or workshop as these events tend to be highly structured without much real retreat time. Other than getting away to a different setting these business retreats often don't look or feel much different than the average work day.


There are literally dozens of other types of retreats you could find out there; everything from Buddhist meditation and yoga retreats to spa weekends and B&Bs. Some people may argue about how spiritual or Christian some of these retreats are and if they should even be called retreats in the first place, but the reality is you will find them online and hear people talking about them.

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