by Don Piburn

Perhaps all you mid-West retreat attendees and planners will have more experience or a different spin, but I have some impressions to share from our first Hawaii AEYC Men in Education Network retreat back in October. We followed the suggestions outlined in the NAEYC bulletin on the topic by our very own Bryan Nelson.

This brief includes a page entitled “How to Organize a Retreat for Men” that helped us a lot. We had a lot of activities planned just in case we needed them, but we were very glad we built a lot of relaxing networking time in.

We stuck to a one day event this first time out (as suggested in the NAEYC bulletin), but there seemed to be a solid consensus in the retreat evaluations that the next time out should include an overnight stay so we can have time to really dig in on some of the more meaty topics and issues.

Following the interests of our participants is what really seemed to make it all work. The evaluations said the guys really appreciated that. We did a lot of icebreaker and sharing activities so the guys could share stories and get to know one another.

The most popular presentation-type activities were those by our teachers related to curriculum and the classroom. Some of our older attendees are administrators now, but I don’t think any of them will ever stop identifying with being a teacher.

More than several of our guys commented that they appreciated having a nice retreat facility. Our event took place at a retreat facility overlooking Aloha Tower and the Honolulu Harbor.

I personally believe that the quality of the food can make or break an event. Good food and plenty of it guarentees good times. So many of us get by on just a shoe-string (or other recycled materials) in our daily lives, that the guys said it was really nice to be treated as worthy professionals and even to be indulged just a bit.

Attendee evaluations were filled with descriptive words like ” amazing,” “rejuvenating,” and “healing,” and most importantly “We have got to do this again and soon!”