This article first appeared on the Soft Flex Newsletter
As the planner of an annual Bead Cruise and Inspired by Nature Bead Retreat here are my top tips for retreat participants.
Retreats are held across the county and around the world with classes that offer something for everyone. With so many choices there are some things to consider when picking your perfect event. Packing and preparing for the retreat can ensure a better experience and once you arrive there are a few things you can do make sure you have a retreat that will inspire you for years to come.
Picking an Event:
Classes: Retreats can range from local instructors sharing basic techniques to nationally known instructors teaching original designs. Are classes offered ala carte or will everyone take the same classes? If classes were ala carte and instructors are selling kits or books this a great way to get more mileage out of your event.
If you are taking an advanced class, know the basic prerequisites before signing up or you could face frustration during the event. Will you finish the project in class, do you want to walk out with finished work or will you be motivated to work on them when you return home.
Size: Do you want to join a larger regional event with a few hundred people or do you want a quieter and more personal experience that a smaller retreat will offer? Whether it's a big or small event, you'll connect with talented and giving creative spirits during the retreat.
Budgets: Sometimes it may be practical considerations like the cost and travel expenses that steer you to an event. You’ll need to budget in materials or kits. Will you need to invest in new tools or materials to take the classes? Are meals included? Will there be chances to shop with the instructors or a vendor?
Style: Are you a mixed media maven or seed bead obsessed? There are retreats just for you! Are you a nature girl and want a chance to explore the relationship between jewelry and the places you are visiting ? there is a retreat just for you! Are you looking for a laid back event that focuses on creativity or do you like a more structured event? Visit websites to get a feel for an event. And join their Facebook pages to get to know the promoters and other people planning to attend.
Going Solo or Bring a Friend: You'll have completely different experiences for each scenario. Don't be afraid to go to an event alone, you will make friends before the end of the weekend and you won't be alone for long.
Packing and Preparing.
Packing: Along with the supply lists for your classes, bring the required tools, a portable beading mat, an OTT Lite if you work with seed beads and an extension cord if you bring a light. Bring business cards or postcards, and a few of your creations for networking. Pack comfortable shoes and clothes you wouldn't mind getting messy during class. An energy-packed snack and a bottle of water can go a long way while you are busy creating!
Inspiration: A camera and notebook will help you capture your inspirations during the weekend and make notes that you might forget in all the excitement of the event.
Before the Event: The retreat experience can start long before the event. Check out the Facebook page or message board group dedicated to the retreat and make a few buddies before you travel.
During the Retreat
Relax: Once you get your bearings on a retreat and the festivities have begun your first job is to relax. Yes, relaxing is job one for you! It's so easy to feel like you have to perform during a class or wow everyone with your creativity, but you don't! Being a student can be a frustrating process, it's hard to learn something new. So don't expect perfection from your class projects. The first project you create with a new technique is practice. If it's a great class, you'll have a new technique you'll be able to perfect and adapt to your own work. So don't put too much pressure on yourself.
Speak Up: Don't be afraid to ask questions if you need help from the instructor ? that's why they are there!
Don't be shy during a retreat! You have something in common with everyone there. Beads unite all! You'll get so much more out of your retreat by interacting with your fellow students. If you are feeling shy, just make a comment about someone's jewelry and you'll be laughing and sharing in no time. Exchange business cards and stay connected after the retreat.
Photos: Take tons of pictures of your event. Anything you find inspirational, snap a pic! Make sure you ask first before you take a photo of anyone else's work and understand they may decline your request.
Don't expect perfection, your retreat planner has gone to great lengths to pull off an amazing event - but things never go exactly as planned. Focus on the positive for the weekend and if there is an issue, go directly to the planner to resolve it so you can get on with having fun!
And if you are looking for a tropical retreat visit the Bead Cruise website for more information.