Location: Ogden, Iowa
Type of Venue: On-site, retreat center
Capacity: 350 overnight guests
Time moves differently at the Sunstream Retreat Center.
It can rush by in a flash during a game of human foosball, where groups work together swiftly for a common goal, or it can slow to a breathtaking halt at the sight of a bald eagle soaring by the Kate Shelly Bridge above the mighty Des Moines River. Time is a gift, and at the Sunstream Retreat Center, that gift is a precious resource.
This retreat center in Ogden, Iowa, is part of the Christian Retreats Network, whose meetings are faith-based by nature. Groups are immersed in 210 acres of beautiful natural surroundings while on the property. The center overlooks the Des Moines River, and although it is less than an hour’s drive from Des Moines, it is nestled in a remote slice of the river’s valley away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Fresh air and soaring oak trees take the place of boardrooms and city landscapes at this retreat center, where motel and dorm-style lodging make sleeping amidst the Des Moines River Valley landscape a cozy experience for groups of all ages. Options for accommodating couples, families, singles and friends, even if they’re new friends, are available, as well as recreational vehicle and tent sites for groups looking to get a bit closer to nature while on-site.
The Christian Retreat Network’s planning team takes all the guesswork out of organizing a memorable retreat and offers inclusive packages that cover everything from entertainment and dining to lodging and meeting spaces. Large gatherings and small group meetings are given the same care and planning at the center, including additions like worship services, workshops and game nights. Time spent at the Sunstream Retreat Center is intended to be intentional, and even activities like archery and wacky games like gaga ball have an underlying message of teamwork and comradery.
Whether it’s a weeklong gathering of 350 guests or an overnight getaway for 20 couples, the Sunstream Retreat Center’s welcoming and friendly staff help ensure any amount of time spent on the property is time well spent.
There is space for groups with up to 350 guests at the Sunstream Retreat Center, where gatherings can take place indoors and out among the retreat’s 210 acres. The five dedicated indoor spaces range in size to accommodate a wide variety of groups. The Retreat Center is the largest and is capable of hosting up to 400 guests at one time; the Conference Center is geared toward smaller gatherings and can host up to 80 guests at one time. Small group meeting rooms and breakout rooms are available on-site as well; these include the Cedar room, the Hickory room and the Garage, and each holds up to 40 guests.
All Sunstream Retreat Center’s per-person retreat packages include buffet-style meals served in the dining room for all-you-can-eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. A breakfast typically consists of a protein, hot side dishes, cereals, fruit and a beverage from the beverage center. A lunch or dinner typically consists of multiple hot entrees, a variety of side dishes, soup, access to the salad bar, desserts and a beverage center of juice, soda, coffee and water. A dedicated food service manager works alongside planners to create a menu that accommodates dietary restrictions. Alcohol is not allowed.
Basic recreation is included in all of the packages at Sunstream Retreat Center, where meeting groups can take advantage of the center’s extensive list of complimentary indoor and outdoor offerings. Leaders can challenge the group to carpetball or basketball indoors or get funky with a game of indoor blacklight dodgeball. Outdoor options are wide-ranging and include hiking and disc golf and groupcentric sports like sand volleyball, gaga ball and human foosball. There are multiple fields available for pop-up games, and the center’s premium recreation options create extra opportunities for groups. They include zip-line tours, a climbing tour, team-building activities and an outdoor pool.
Before and After
Spend time before or after meetings exploring the 210 acres of the Sunstream Retreat Center, including Pioneer Village, where attendees can test their skills at archery, skeet shooting and sling shotting, or even take part in an experiential program at Grandpa’s wood shop or the blacksmith shop. The center has a partnership with Seven Oaks Recreation that allows visitors access to river tubes and kayaks on the Des Moines River in the summer and snow skiing in the winter. Groups always arrive back to the center happy — and speckled in paint — after returning from the paintball field at Seven Oaks Recreation, just a 10-minute drive away.