The first wheat crop was planted on Kansas soil long before the state even had a name, and it was that first careworn crop that would go on to earn the state a nickname that speaks to its residents’ endurance, faith and perseverance. It wasn’t always easy being a wheat farmer in Kansas, where families endured drought, dust and the Great Depression. But through hard work and devotion, Kansas began to flourish as the Wheat State.
It wasn’t long after the Great Depression that wheat production began to thrive throughout the state, and the desire to commune among the golden acres of Kansas grew alongside the state’s treasured crop. In 1950, what is now known as the Wheat State Retreat Center welcomed its first group of guests and set the standard for meaningful meetings in Kansas.
The center now operates through the Christian Retreats Network with a mission “to be a blessing and benefit through camps, conferences, retreats and other activities, to all ministers, members and church groups of the Kansas District Council of the Assemblies of God, as well as to other groups with aligned objectives of the AGK Ministry Network.”
Church group leaders can discover what makes the Wheat State Retreat Center such a special place when they host an event there.
Lodging and Venues
The lodging at the Wheat State Retreat Center consists primarily of dorm rooms with bunks and full-size beds. Planners love the affordable lodging option, and church camp groups appreciate the ability to keep students and friends together in a dorm room. Wheat State also offers three premium cabins for event leadership that each have a queen bed with linens, television and other amenities.
Meeting spaces are available for small gatherings and large conferences, with the largest venue, the Tabernacle, capable of seating up to 500 guests. The Tabernacle features a spacious permanent stage, a sound booth, and lighting and sound equipment. The space also includes its own restrooms and comes with divider walls that can separate the wings into six breakout spaces, three on each side. Each breakout room has a capacity of 40 guests and can be used as a camp office, a nursery or even a green room. The dining room offers a small breakout space on the upper floor that can seat 50 guests, and the northern half of the dining room can have a divider wall put up to create a meeting space for 100 guests.
Activities and Meals
All basic recreation is included in the retreat package. Kids and youth groups rave about the creative games and fun activities offered at the Wheat State Retreat Center. The outdoor covered pavilion has basketball hoops for quick pick-up games, and the sand volleyball courts are equipped with a professional drain system that means games will never get called because of rain. Multiple recreation fields are groomed and ready for any sort of field game, such as the popular Gaga Ball, where players race and duck in this fast-paced dodgeball-style game. A disc golf course offers the chance for a slower-paced competition outdoors, while indoor games take place at the Lowenberg Recreation Center. The center includes a gymnasium, as well as an attached lounge area outfitted with various billiards and pingpong tables.
Premium recreation is available at a minimal extra cost and includes access to the indoor rock climbing wall, a paintball course, a zip-line course and lakefront activities like “the blob,” a slide and paddleboards. Guests often work up an appetite while at the Wheat State Retreat Center, which is why buffet dining, serving all-you-can-eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, is standard in all retreat packages.
One of the biggest advantages for planners of booking a retreat with the Wheat State Retreat Center is the opportunity to access all the planning and promotional materials from the Christian Retreats Network. All planners get access to Planner Central, a hub of planning and promotional resources that contains downloadable templates for budgeting, registration, flyers and emails. The program also comes with property-specific resources like the property map, an audiovisual equipment list and lodging layouts. Planners can access valuable resources like the program’s “Marketing To-Do’s” and “Event Health and Safety Guidelines.”
Aside from the streamlined planning assistance, the Wheat State Retreat Center is the only property in the Christian Retreats Network to have a dedicated paintball course and created pickleball courts. Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and pingpong, It takes place on its own regulation-size court. It’s fast-paced and has quickly become popular. Paintball is available at an additional cost, but pickleball is included in the regular packages, and adventurous groups can be among the first to play indoor blacklight pickleball.
Although there are more than enough activities and fun to be had on-site at the Wheat State Retreat Center, the center’s proximity to the vibrant city of Wichita, Kansas, makes venturing out before heading home easy and enjoyable. It takes roughly 25 minutes to drive from the center to the Old Town section of Wichita, where groups can dine at the many local restaurants or explore the Museum of World Treasures and the Great Plains Transportation Museum. By following the Arkansas River through town, visitors can explore the museum trail of Wichita, which passes by the Exploration Place, Botanica Wichita, the Mid-America All-Indian Museum, the Old Cowtown Museum, and the Wichita Art Museum.
Groups spending time in Wichita can take a stroll down Gallery Alley in Old Town and check out the Guinness World Record-holding Beachner Grain Elevator Mural in the North End. Groups can get their feet wet with the on-water experiences and hiking trails around Santa Fe Lake, which is just down the street from the retreat center.
Wheat State Retreat Center
Location: Augusta, Kansas
Size: 70 acres
Capacity: 500 overnight guests