Families Unplug and Reconnect at Operation Purple Family Retreats
Located an hour east of Atlanta, GA, Camp Twin Lakes offers a respite away from the everyday cares of life. Just a few weeks ago, the National Military Family Association hosted twenty military families at an Operation Purple Family Retreat amid its stunning nature trails and lakefront properties. Camp Twin Lakes is a 100-acre facility in the middle of Fort Yargo State Park and allows families to unplug and connect in a powerful way. Our Family Retreats utilize outdoor surroundings and activities, such as boating, zip-lining, fishing, and archery to provide families the opportunity to reconnect after a deployment or separation.
One mom, who recently returned from a deployment, said this was the first time she and her family were able to get away and have quality time together.
“This last deployment exceeded 18 months away from home, due to an extension, and we need to spend time together as a family away from work needs, school needs or Boy Scout needs. Despite being home since October, we've not had a chance to actually spend any time together on a vacation. We need it.”
This family came and tried new things and were able to challenge some fears while having a really great time.
Many parents remarked they were amazed to see their children come out of their shells, whether it was by socializing or by overcoming their fears (heights, animals, separation, etc.) Several teens even commented that they didn’t even miss their phones!
When asked what they learned about themselves over the weekend at the Operation Purple Family Retreat, one teenage girl said, “I learned that if I get out of my comfort zone, I can accomplish more and still have fun.”
Thanks in large part to Camp Twin Lakes and their amazing staff and volunteers, these families had personal helpers throughout the weekend to provide child care when needed so that couples could spend quality time together and build stronger foundations. One service member mentioned in his application for the retreat, “My wife gave birth to our twin sons within a month of me returning from my deployment, she and I have been very stressed and would like a chance to relax together and have some fun.”
This young couple with one-year-old twins had volunteers watching the twins while they went for a walk and rode horses. Mom told us, “This is the first time I’ve been away from the kids since they were born. My husband is gone a lot and I’m just enjoying this time being with him.” She and her husband were extremely grateful for this experience and left the camp different parents than when they arrived.
One dad commented, “All staff members and volunteers were amazing. Their attitude and willingness to be here to make this weekend possible for us will never be forgotten! Thanks guys/gals for this incredible weekend. Life memories were made.”
That weekend was not just a memorable experience for the families, but for staff and volunteers as well. One volunteer wrote, “It is an honor to work with these families and one of the greatest joys of my life. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to help these families accomplish their goals and have a meaningful experience.”
Another helper said, “I am amazed at the change I saw in the families over such a short period of time as a veteran [myself], I am grateful that a program like this exists because I know where they are coming from and I am amazed at what they grew into.”
As a staff member who was also privileged to work with these families, I can say on behalf of all NMFA that we are honored to be a part of a program that serves deserving families who have given so much to our Nation. Special thanks to The Kendeda Fund for their generous support of Operation Purple Family Retreats.
More About Operation Purple Family Retreats
NMFA brings families to beautiful outdoor locations to spend quality time reconnecting after a deployment, separation, or during a time of transition. It’s the perfect environment to bond and reconnect as a family. We welcome families from all service branches, including National Guard and Reserve, and the Commissioned Corps of NOAA and USPHS. For more information and to learn about other locations, visit www.MilitaryFamily.org.