This post is not meant to denigrate anyone - just food for thought. My daughter just got back from a retreat and had a great time. =)
For twenty years, I've been a youth ministry volunteer and the primary model of taking your youth group away in the fall and spring has not changed. I've served at them, overseeing cabins of students, I've spoken at a few of them, I have helped plan them. The very name that we call it, "retreat", communicates the paradigm - we take kids away to rest and relax. With the most missional minded generation ever, we should be exploring a different model.
Most of the great youth pastors I know serve in the context of believing their students can change the world. A high school student can exert influence, start a micro business, create a ministry from scratch, lead others to a richer, more sacrificial life. They know that kids should 'live on mission.' But when it comes to dreaming and planning times away with their students - almost 48 hours of life on life - they choose a paradigm that says 'live to rest.'
Jesus primary model of discipleship was on mission, on the move, for the sake of others. They certainly rested, but it wasn't until after there was some ministry breakthrough. They worshipped when they had returned from living life on the edge.
Elements of this model would include: teaching on catalytic leadership, some nontoxic charity service project and hyper worship - worship after you and your best friends have seen God come through in a big way. This type of weekend takes different kinds of planning. And of course, the term 'retreat' never, ever gets used.
If this sounds interesting to you, Ember would love to help you explore it.