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Activities for Teens at Catholic Youth Retreats

author image Kathryn Rateliff Barr
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.
Activities for Teens at Catholic Youth Retreats
A Catholic youth retreat could occur at the parish church or at a remote location. Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

A religious youth retreat provides an opportunity for teens to get away from the day-to-day distractions and focus on spiritual matters. The teen years are the most spiritually active period in a young person’s life, according to the Barna Group, a research group studying the faith and spirituality practices in America. Helping Catholic teens connect to God at a retreat might help them remain in the Church during their adult years.

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Talks and Discussions

A Catholic teen retreat typically includes presentations and discussions. Some discussion activities could occur in small groups where teens can share their feelings and thoughts freely, while other discussions could include the entire group brainstorming answers to important teen concerns regarding faith and responsible, godly living. The most effective topics are those that teens feel are relevant to their lives, such as sexuality, serving humanity, how to connect to God, how faith and career mesh in a meaningful way and a clear understanding of how to apply the Bible to everyday life. Adult-led and teen-led talks can take many forms, including panels, personal testimonies, object lessons and drama.

Relational Activities

A Catholic retreat offers an ideal environment for teens to relate to one another, priests, adult sponsors and God. Icebreakers help teens learn about and connect with other attendees. Teens can build relationships with mentors in one-on-one discussions where the teen and mentor talk privately, but are in the sight of others. Additionally, a small group of teens can work together with a mentor on a group topic or project. Teens can share their faith experiences in a small group and hear the experiences of others. Teens can also learn new and different ways to connect to God through meditation, journaling and worship.


A Catholic retreat includes many worship activities, including prayer, confession, Bible reading, worship services and the Eucharist. The retreat can allow teens to provide the music and message for a worship service, incorporating a more contemporary flavor than the teens’ parents prefer. The retreat could include interactive messages where some teens and the priest or other group leader encourage other teens to take an active part through liturgical dance, singing and intercessory prayer.

Creative Activities

Creative activities engage the teens in the retreat topics and events. Groups of teens can create original skits for presentation or use one from a book or resource manual. Role-play and improvisation also allow teens to get creative while they learn. Some teens could write original poems, music and essays on the retreat. Art and crafts that relate to the retreat topic will also engage teens in an enjoyable manner. Learning games such a scrambled Bible verses, Bible charades and mime games allow teens to be creative while learning.

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