A Trauma-Informed Retreat

Today, I’m walking you through, step by step, how our team created a trauma-informed retreat. We invited 15 guests to our farm for a 2-day, soul-filling retreat about what it means to provide trauma-responsive care when you work in the lives of children and families. It was magical!

  • Find an incredible partner. Or in our case, partners!! We partnered with so many incredible organizations including:
  • Hire a great team. My team was with me from beginning to end. On the back end, Tegan created branded graphics and handouts for our participants. Having beautiful, aesthetically pleasing materials is important for our senses. On the front end, every participant and partnering organization was welcomed by Alena, our Community Relations Manager. Her warm smile and generous spirit made everyone feel included and welcomed. 
  • Collaborate. We made a commitment early and often to collaborate with all of our partners. Some partners chose to be silent supporters, while others had strong ideas and opinions. Collaboration with brilliant minds only helps to strengthen our content and provide an exceptional experience. Power with vs. power over is a commitment of my team and so we were dedicated to these strong relationships. 
  • Create a stellar guest list. Here’s where we had magic and synergy. I have been working with professionals through PCAO for almost 3 years, so we had a diverse, committed workforce to pull from. We were committed to having representation from across our state and folks who represent the children we serve. And we wanted folks to feel comfortable sharing with each other, especially when it came to such sensitive topics. 
  • Fill their bellies and souls. I worked with Nourishment Food and Yoga, the spectacular Irene, who filled every participant’s tummy and heart. We began days with farm walks or yoga, and provided home-cooked meals, snacks, and indulgences. Talking about trauma is hard work! It pulls a lot of energy from your body and brain, so refueling was a commitment of ours. 
  • Plan with intention. Here are just some considerations we made to ensure a trauma-aware environment and learning space: venue, lighting, seating, food, schedule, downtime, working time, group time, snacks, time with animals, movement, accessibility to training materials via vision and language, and taking time away from screens. When you’re talking about trauma, hope, stories, and self-care, all of these considerations matter. 
  • Be patient. Great people, guest lists, partnerships, and intentionality take time. Breathe. We took care of our team, and our guests and then waited patiently for responses to come in. And, wow, did they ever!  
  • Be spacious & gracious with time. Even though I’ve presented about trauma and how to respond to trauma, it’s heavy! Even when it’s hopeful, it’s tough work. So, we built in lots of breaks, went outside, moved our bodies, and built-in loads of time for questions and connections!
  • Ask curious questions. There were some triggering materials for our participants. We leaned in with curiosity, cultural humility, and bravery. And when we modeled that for others, they leaned in too! 
  • Learn & reflect. We created surveys, asked questions, and debriefed in the garden over food and wine. We’ll continue to reach out to our participants, review video footage, collaborate with partners, and reflect on learning. Being trauma-informed is not a destination, it’s a journey! 

Let me know what you think and when you’re ready to host this type of retreat for your organization! Let’s continue to create champions in the lives of children!