12 Engaging Men’s Retreat Ideas
Planning a men’s retreat is a little more complicated than planning a bachelor’s party. After all, we’ll assume that if you’re planning a men’s retreat, you want to focus on the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of your attendees, as well as perhaps even address some gender stereotypes along the way. Whether you’re planning a religious or secular retreat, or an event for friends or colleagues, we’ve put together these 12 engaging men’s retreat ideas to get you started.
1. Attract (or invite) the right participants
If you’re planning a public retreat, or even if you’re inviting guests from your workplace or social group, it’s a good idea to be clear about the goals of your retreat. Different men will want different things from a men’s retreat — and your female colleagues may have opinions on it, too. The term “men’s retreat” can be used to refer to a spiritual or faith-based retreat, while a “men’s circle” or “masculinity retreat” usually refers to a secular one.
Either way, it’s important that your event doesn’t come across as an exclusive “boy’s club,” but rather one that uses the supportive nature of a men-only space to help men grow. Look for ways that you can include men who may be left out of other men’s spaces, such as gay, bi, and queer men, trans men, and men of color.
2. Choose an inspiring venue
Host your event at a memorable location to get some space from the everyday world and bond in a transformative environment. From castles and cabins, to yurts and churches, Peerspace is a great place to find unique event spaces of all kinds. Just search by event type and capacity to find the perfect men’s retreat ideas near you.
Plus, many of the venues on Peerspace have additional amenities, such as a full kitchen, A/V equipment, game rooms, and even swimming pools. Find one that’s the best fit for your group, then call up the Concierge service to book a caterer and other event staff or services.
3. Get out into nature
While it isn’t a requirement that your retreat take place in a remote location, there’s something about being in nature that encourages reflection and connection. Invite your attendees to slow down, put their phones away, and connect with their authentic selves outdoors. Whether you lead a group hike, gather around a campfire, or meditate together, spending time outside can help set the tone of your retreat and make it easier to connect with each other.
4. Take a hero’s journey
Many men’s retreats are framed around the hero’s journey and other mythological or archetypal frameworks. For example, the Mankind Project hosts a New Warrior Training Adventure for men that involves trust-building exercises, like being led into the woods blindfolded. You don’t have to take things to that extreme, but sometimes introspection goes better with a side of mythmaking. Structure your retreat as a journey with a familiar character arc and conclusion.
5. Hold a sharing circle
Sharing circles are a great men’s retreat idea that can encourage vulnerability and reflection. A sharing circle is essentially a discussion group in which each person gets a turn to share openly about something they’re struggling with. The important thing is to listen to each other without any blame or judgement. Use a talking stick to ensure that only one person speaks at a time.
6. Have communal meals
While hiring a caterer for your men’s retreat is an option, we think that meals are the perfect time to connect with each other — both at the table and in the kitchen. Rent a Peerspace venue with a large enough kitchen, such as this covered deck and outdoor kitchen in Nashville, TN.
7. Plan a photoshoot
Photography is a great way to reflect on the way we see the world — and the way the world sees us. Plan a photography workshop at your men’s retreat, where your attendees can practice their nature or wildlife photography skills, or re-examine masculinity in front of the camera.
8. Play tabletop games
Playing tabletop games can be a fun and engaging men’s retreat idea that doesn’t require a lot of planning. But for a twist, avoid competitive games like Risk, and try something different, such as Virtus: The Card Game of Medieval Masculinity, which looks at medieval gender roles through a modern lens and will offer plenty of interesting topics for discussion.
9. Offer a yoga class
While yoga still has a reputation as being a women’s activity, more and more men are enjoying its benefits — such as at the Primal Beat men’s yoga retreat in Ibiza offered by YogaFit. But you don’t have to head to Spain to incorporate yoga into your men’s retreat. Invite a yoga instructor who can lead your group in a yoga and meditation session designed for men’s bodies.
10. Sweat it out in a sauna
Sweat lodges and saunas have served as important gathering spaces for men in many cultures. Include some spa time at your event by hosting it at this beautiful retreat space with a sauna and hiking trails less than an hour from New York City. Or, rent this modern home with epic views in the hills of Los Angeles and enjoy the outdoor pool, hot tub, and sauna.
11. Screen a movie
Lighten up the mood with a fun bromance like I Love You, Man — or start a conversation about growing up male by watching Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. You can rent a screening room on Peerspace for this part of your event, or choose a venue that offers a built-in projector.
12. Practice empathy
Finally, host an empathy workshop aimed at men in your community or industry. For example, the Empathy Initiative produces cultural empathy and disability simulations for nursing students. Find a workshop designed to teach emotional intelligence in your industry, or use a set of Tea & Empathy cards to create your own exercises.
Some men attend men’s retreats because they want to become better fathers, husbands, and coworkers. Others attend because they want to fight the epidemic of male loneliness and build stronger friendships with other men. Whatever their reasons for attending, your job is to offer a space where they can let their guard down and truly be themselves. These 12 men’s retreat ideas offer a variety of options that will suit men of all ages and backgrounds.