Our Family Retreat Experience
By Veronica Lemus, Operation Purple® Family Retreat Participant
After we were selected to participate, I found myself wondering, “What are we going to do and learn about on a family retreat?” It’s not often we are able to get away from busy everyday life to just enjoy family time, and being able to enjoy that relaxing time among other military families happens even less. As we prepared to go, my younger children were excited, but my teenager was doubtful that the experience would be fun.
The activities for the adult sessions were very helpful and led to discussions that gave great insight into comprehending the situations military families often face. I felt especially grateful to have been in small groups throughout the weekend because it made everything more personal. We were able to speak and share our experiences comfortably, which was an extremely valuable part of the retreat experience. I want to thank the staff for doing a great job of being so dynamic and helpful with both the kids and the adults. Initially, it's not easy to let go and let loose around the campfire. The songs we sang together helped us relax, and my children and I still sing them and talk about how much fun it was in the beautiful northern coast of California.
"The touch tank was the funnest thing to do without having so many people around," my eight year old said. The beautiful hikes were a blessing to take, as was having the time to learn about the military history of this amazing site. My children, including my teen, really enjoyed the company of the other kids, and being able to talk with them while hiking. It was an experience we will hold dear to us, and eye opening to understand the realities of life after deployment and the bonds military families must continue to develop with our spouses as well as our children.
I encourage all military families to take advantage of the resources the National Military Family Association has to offer. My family is grateful for the opportunity and we pray this program continues to serve others like it touched us.
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 National Parks and are led by experienced outdoor educators. We have three Family Retreats left this year at the following locations:
- YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC
- Silver Bay YMCA in Silver Bay, NY
- Teton Science Schools in Jackson Hole, WY
Each retreat provides specialized staff members to guide families through activities such as nature hikes, canoeing, campfires, and more. To learn more about this and other programs, head to www.militaryfamily.org.
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