I did something I’ve never done before a few weeks ago. On of our Early Childhood leaders has a beautiful lake house on Lake Travis and offered to share it with my team, so I took my Kids Quest team away overnight to plan out 2010. It was fantastic!
In the past I’ve always done most of the calendar planing on my own. I usually did this on my own because I was either the only one on staff, it was easier that way or because I was a control freak. I must say it was quite fun to do this as a team. Not only did we need to just get dates on the calendar, but we had to develop some strategy around some new initiatives that were calendar driven.
We started a little later than expected (around 11:00 AM) and work non-stop until about 6:30 PM. We ran out for a few hours for dinner and got back to work around 9:00 PM and worked until 11:30 or so. It was a great outing and we got the entire year planned out. We’re meeting together again in a few weeks to set promotion, communication and design deadlines for all the events we’ve planned. I’ve learned that you can have a calendar planned out years in advance, but if you’re not careful, an event or class will sneak up on you before you’ve done any promotions.
So here’s how we executed our retreat:
I found this great website that will create blank calendars for you. I created 18 months of calendars. Everyone on my team got a set and I sent the calendar to a good friend to print them out on his wide-format printer. I was a little over-zealous in the size and ended up with over 50 linear feet of calendar. Check out the pictures of my HUGE calendar.
We started with the easy stuff. We posted all our birthdays. Why not. Then came the non-negotiables. Holidays like Easter, Christmas, 4th of July and all the other holidays that would affect programs or events. We also found out when all the Texas home games were (and big away games) and put them on the calendar. We sent emails to find out when baptisms would happen so we could plan out baptism classes and such. Once all of this was on the calendar, it provided a pretty nice framework for everything else. We scheduled dedication classes, baptism classes, volunteer orientations, volunteer trainings, volunteer events, summer camp, lock-ins, tentative pool parties and everything else we could think of. We spent quite a bit of time juggling these as we wanted to create a rhythm that didn’t wear us out but still made sense to paretns and volunteers. Once we could see how everything was shaping up, we scheduled our staff retreats. We planned them a few months before big events that would require a little extra planning. Most importantly, we planned the calendar retreat where we would plan out 2011.
While planning all of this out, several on the team were plugging everything into a google calendar. Public and shared outlook/exchange calendar have been a sore spot for me and my team at Gateway and since a handful of us have started relying on Google applications, it made the most sense for us to record this on a google calendar that we all shared. Next month we’ll create a new calendar for marketing. It will be a separate calendar so we can just view events/programs without getting distracted with all the marketing stuff; however, we can easily overlay both calendars and get a good look at the whole picture.
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