What is an Operation Purple Family Retreat?


Operation Purple® Family Retreats are designed to help families to reconnect after experiencing the stresses surrounding a deployment. They are a great opportunity to spend time outdoors, try new things, make friends, and enjoy quality time together as a family. These four-day retreats take place in beautiful outdoor locations with activities facilitated by experienced outdoor educators.



How are Operation Purple Family Retreats different from other military family programs?

Each retreat provides specialized staff members to guide families through activities such as nature hikes, canoeing, campfires, and more. Operation Purple Family Retreats are open to service members and their families who have experienced a deployment within the last 15 months. We also provide military family life consultants and FOCUS (Families Overcoming  Under Stress) facilitators that are available for families.



Are Retreats open to families with infants and toddlers?

Yes. All military families who have experienced deployment and are coming back together again as a family within 3 -15 months of the date of the Retreat are eligible to apply. Daycare will be provided onsite during times when an ongoing activity is not suitable for  infants and toddlers.

Families should be aware that some Retreats include long periods of time away from the host site and/or feature strenuous activities that are not feasible for young children.  Please review the description of the Retreat that interests you and then refer to the host organization's website to be sure the program is a good fit for your family. 


Is transportation provided?

Transportation to the Operation Purple Family Retreat site is the responsibility of the selected family. The National Military Family Association provides each attending family with a $200.00 stipend to assist with travel costs. This stipend will be distributed to families at the end of the Retreat weekend.


Our service member is still away on deployment. Can we attend the Retreat without him/her?

The focus of the Retreat program is reconnection and reintegration following a deployment.  For this reason, we encourage families to apply to attend a Retreat after the service member has returned.  Because the weeks after the service member returns can often be very busy as well as an emotional time for families, we recommend that families plan to attend a Retreat no sooner than three months after the end of a deployment. Exceptions to this policy may be considered on a case-by-case basis.


What should I bring to Operation Purple Family Retreats?

Accepted families will receive a list of items that they should plan to pack. In most cases families must bring their own sleeping bags or bedding and towels. In addition, bring comfortable shoes, bug spray, sun block, and clothing and gear appropriate for the weather. A sample packing list is:

  • Personal care items and medications you may need while away from home
  • Camera, chargers, etc.
  • Comfortable clothing (layering is recommended for unpredictable weather)
  • Tennis or hiking shoes
  • An additional pair of shoes that can get wet such as rain gear and/or boots
  • Sweaters/Sweatshirts (for cooler evening temperatures)
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Flashlight
  • Sunglasses
  • Strollers, booster seats, and pack n’ plays for younger children
  • Sleeping bag or sheets and blankets (for some locations)
  • Pillow
  • Towels
  • Shower Shoes (optional)
  • Coat, hat and gloves (depending on weather)


What types of accommodations are available at the Operation Purple Family Retreats?

Each Operation Purple Family Retreat site is different, but, we work to ensure family members are housed together in private rooms big enough to accommodate the entire family.


What types of activities are offered at the Retreat?

Each Retreat site has a different focus and activities vary from site to site.  Highly specialized field science educators will guide families through various activities such as nature hikes, canoeing, campfires, beach exploration, arts and crafts, and challenge activities. Most of your time will be spent outdoors and families should come prepared to do a lot of walking.

All Retreats also include resiliency and communication skills activities led by staff members from FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress). 


Will we have free time to explore and enjoy the outdoors as a family?

Yes, family time is built in to the Operation Purple Family Retreat weekend.




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