The Senior Challenge retreat allows high school seniors to reflect back on their high school years and encourages them to look forward to their next stage of life in regards to their spiritual journey. This retreat inspires participants to allow their faith to make a greater impact on themselves and their class as a whole and helps prepare students spiritually for the upcoming transition to life outside of high school. The following are descriptions of the essential sessions included in our Senior Challenge retreat, followed by additional optional sessions to enhance your retreat experience.
Welcome / Opening Prayer & Praise / Ice Breakers (15-30 minutes)
Participants meet the SPIRITUS team and are introduced to the retreat experience.
Activity: Retreat attendees participate in an icebreaker activity to feel comfortable with the team and each other.
Methods and Processing: Large group participation
Our Years in High School (60 minutes)
Challenge: Young people’s lives consist of many challenges, especially during the transition from high school to life after high school. In this session, students reflect upon their high school career thus far and the foundation of faith that has been created. By reflecting on the past, they come to realize that they have a special place in their senior class.
Activity: Retreat attendees are separated into competing teams and assigned handicaps and tasks before heading out to find hidden puzzle pieces to complete a puzzle. This activity enables students to see beyond perceived shortcomings or weaknesses and to realize the different gifts that God has given all of us.
Methods and Processing: Guided meditation, small and large group sharing and Puzzle Challenge activity
Diving In and Going Deeper (60 minutes)
Challenge: It is challenging for all of us to go beyond our comfort zone. This session allows students to realize where they are in their faith currently and encourages them to take a step further and go to the next level.
Activity: Participants identify the challenges they face in their spiritual life through a Four Corners activity that reveals where they are in their faith currently.
Methods and Processing: Four Corners activity, teaching through metaphor, witness talk and small group sharing
The Next Step (60 minutes)
Challenge: Young people often feel apprehensive about transitioning from high school to life after high school. In this session, students become aware of the stages of transition and the effects they may feel while going through these stages. They will also receive encouragement to continue growing in faith after high school.
Activity: Team members relate their experiences of transition and students may ask the team questions in a panel discussion format.
Methods and Processing: Large group discussion, teaching, and panel discussion
Making a Difference (60 minutes)
Challenge: Many times, students have trouble incorporating their faith into their high school life. This session encourages students to be open to the Holy Spirit and allow their faith to have a greater impact in their senior year, thereby making a difference in their individual lives and their class as a whole.
Activity: Participants watch an Openness to God demonstration to help them process how the Holy Spirit can help guide them and give them the grace to continue growing in faith.
Methods and Processing: Witness talk, small group sharing, large group discussion and Openness to God demonstration
Retreat Closing Prayer and Praise (15 min)
Participants reflect on the retreat and the presence of God’s loving guidance in their lives through prayer and praise.
Activity: SPIRITUS team leads group in prayer and praise.
Methods and Processing: Large group participation
Questing for the Grail (75 minutes)
Challenge: Young Catholics often take one of the most important aspects of our Catholic faith for granted – participating in Mass. This session gives them a new, exciting way of thinking about the liturgy and helps them to get excited about going to Mass.
Activity: Retreat attendees take part in the Mass Challenge. After watching a video clip from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the participants are placed in teams to answer questions about the Mass in order to earn bridge pieces and reach the grail.
Methods and Processing: Teaching, movie clip, Mass Challenge activity, witness talk, personal reflection, and small group discussion
Seeking and Giving Forgiveness (60-120 minutes)
Challenge: Many young people never consider how holding on to hurts in our lives can become an obstacle to growing in our relationship with God. This session helps participants recognize the consequences of holding on to hurts in their lives and the effects of forgiving others and being forgiven. They discover how handing hurts over to God enables His followers to live as God intends. This session is given before the Sacrament of Reconciliation or the Hurt Circle experience and varies in length depending on the size of the group, whether the group is having Reconciliation or the Hurt Circle, and number of available priests if having Reconciliation.
Activity: Sacrament of Reconciliation or the Hurt Circle, depending upon the groups’ choice. The Hurt Circle is an option for groups who choose not to or are unable to include a formal Reconciliation service as part of their retreat experience. If doing the Hurt Circle, participants experience a quiet ceremony in which they are able to symbolically hand over past hurts, pains or concerns to God.
Methods and Processing: Large group discussion, witness talk, Holding on to Hurts demonstration and small group sharing, followed by Sacrament of Reconciliation or Hurt Circle
Saving Grace (45 minutes)
Challenge: Many young people do not realize how present God’s grace is in each and every person’s life. This session helps participants discover God’s presence in their own lives.
Activity: Through a grace demonstration, participants symbolically witness the presence and growth of God’s graces in their lives as they help identify and remove the effects of sins and struggles.
Methods and Processing: Teaching, Grace Demonstration and small group sharing
Importance of Prayer (60 minutes)
Challenge: At a young age, most Catholics are taught basic prayers, such as the Our Father and Hail Mary. But many do not understand that there are other ways to pray besides prayers that they have memorized. This session helps participants learn the importance of being open to Jesus in prayer so that we can develop a relationship with Him.
Activity: Each retreat attendee will experience one-on-one prayer with a SPIRITUS team member to help them hand over their struggles to Christ.
Methods and Processing: Witness talk, teaching, and one-on-one and/or other prayer experience(s)
The Holy Spirit and the Gifts (60 minutes)
Challenge: Many Catholics have difficulty understanding what the gifts of the Spirit mean and how these gifts relate to their daily lives. This session helps participants understand the gifts of the Spirit and how believers can use these gifts for the benefit of their lives and the lives of others. They are given a fun and easy way to understand the gifts and will then use those gifts in practical teen situations where God’s Spirit can help them.
Activity: Participants are placed into teams and race against each other to identify which gifts of the Holy Spirit would be best used in different scenarios.
Methods and Processing: Teaching, Spirit Alive Challenge activity, witness talk, and large group processing
Recognizing God’s Blessings (60 minutes)
Challenge: In our culture, it is easy for people to focus on things they want instead of appreciate the blessings God has given them. In this session, participants recognize the blessings of family and faith and are given the opportunity to affirm others in their group and build community.
Activity: Participants are affirmed by members of their small group. Letters of encouragement from parents and/or sponsors may also be incorporated into this session.
Methods and Processing: Video clip of Bruce Almighty, large group discussion, witness talk, and individual reflection