Brisbane, Queensland AUS

Year 12 Retreat

Year 12 Retreat

Experience Wellbeing creates and facilitates Catholic and State School workshops and programs. To find out more about Donna Power’s Experience Wellbeing Year 12 Retreat go to Programs or email her for a full description and quote at

Donna Power designs and facilitates catholic and state school retreats and workshops in Brisbane and Queensland

Donna Power designs and facilitates catholic and state school retreats and workshops in Brisbane and Queensland

The below article from the Parramatta Catholic Diocese offers a great explanation of the benefits of Catholic School Retreats, especially Year 12 Retreats.



A retreat is . . .

  • A pause from the “business” of everyday life
  • An opportunity to strengthen friendships
  • A time for quiet prayer and reflection in a peaceful atmosphere
  • An opportunity to build and strengthen friendships and promote understanding between students and teachers
  • A fun ‘time-out’ for recreation, games, songs, learning and play

Catholic school staff in the Parramatta Diocese work hard each day to nurture and develop young people academically, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Students are challenged grow and learn, to care for others, to love God and to appreciate their own special talents.

In addition to the everyday teaching and learning programs, many schools offer students the opportunity to participate in a retreat experience. Retreats are part of a school’s Religious Education program. They are generally held away from the distractions of the normal school environment to help students to better focus on themselves, their spirituality, their future and their relationships with each other and God. Usually lasting one day or overnight, retreats include plenty of time for fun and games, team building, communal meals, group discussion, prayer and liturgies.

Throughout their schooling, most Catholic school students will have participated in a retreat, whether for one day, overnight or longer. At some schools retreats are held only for students in senior classes (Year 12 in high school and Year 6 in primary school), whereas other schools provide some sort of retreat experience for all grade levels.

A retreat is a time for recreation, reflection and reunion. Students often take part in activities such as swimming, abseiling, canoeing, bushwalking, team sports and physical challenge courses to help them develop their physical, social and team building skills.

However the major focus of retreat is on spirituality, with students and teachers sharing liturgies, Eucharist celebrations, group discussions and individual reflections. The experience is overwhelmingly positive, with students and staff gaining new insights about themselves and each other.

Different age groups may experience a retreat in different ways. Younger children in primary school who participate in an overnight retreat (generally Year 6 classes) may experience both excitement and nervousness to be staying away from Mum and Dad for the first time. Some young students need extra care and support from teachers and classmates to help relieve their apprehension and worry, and this works to develop strong friendships and social skills.

Much of the focus on these retreats is about teaching children to respect themselves, care for others and gain a new appreciation for their friends, families, classmates and teachers. Children also learn about responsibility, trust, sharing chores (such as clearing plates after meals), and explore their relationship with God.

Retreats for older students follow similar themes, but incorporate activities and discussions relevant to the students’ age and social, emotional and mental development. Adolescents are challenged to examine their faith in the context of their everyday lives, and to think about the role their faith will have in their future.

Year 12 Retreat

Year 12 retreats are often reported as being one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of a student’s school life. The activities are designed to help prepare these 17 and 18 year-old students to confidently take the final steps to move from childhood to adulthood and being a responsible, well-adjusted member of society.

Year 12 retreats are particularly special because they are often one of the last times students will relax and renew together as a year group. They are facing the prospect of life beyond school, beyond teachers and beyond the Catholic school support network that has nurtured them for up to 13 years. These retreats can be very emotional and often give students the opportunity to openly share their feelings, hopes, memories and uncertainties.

Leadership Key Learning Co-ordinator with McCarthy Catholic College, Emu Plains, Paul Rochfort, said retreats were a valuable part of the Catholic school experience. “A retreat is more than just a camp,” he said. “It incorporates many of the same team building activities but is very much centred around faith and spirituality. Together students explore the relevance of faith in their lives right now, and reflect on how this may change in the future.

“A retreat is an opportunity to look at the values of Catholic school, and relate these to everyday life. We find it also gives students a greater appreciation of their religion, as they look at how it affects themselves and those around them.”

“It’s interesting that many former students return to the school to visit, they often talk about how much they enjoyed and benefited from their retreat experience. In many cases, retreat does make a positive difference to students lives.”

In Marcellin Flynn’s book The Culture of Catholic Schools(1993), it finds retreats have had an important impact on the religious culture of Catholic schools. “No area of school life received such strong approval from students as their retreats.”

“Retreats provide students with a greater sense of self-worth. Students report they had come to appreciate and respect the views of other class members more. Others speak of the unity it brought to their class and how the retreat helped them to come to a greater appreciation of one another.”

Flynn also noted that retreats nourished students’ hunger for spirituality. “Many students report they had experienced times on retreats when they felt close to God. They also believed that the retreats had helped them to understand their relationship with God. For many of them, retreats were the most important religious experiences of their lives.”

Within the Parramatta Diocese, all efforts are made by schools to keep the cost of retreats affordable. No student is excluded from the retreat experience on the basis of financial hardship. Parents are encouraged to contact the school principal, in confidence, if their current circumstances make it difficult to pay for retreat.”