Retreat connects Schriever families

WESTCLIFFE, Colo. -- Three months of preparation culminated with 20 families driving 102 miles through the mountains to spend roughly 48 hours together with no Wi-Fi and no television during a 50th Space Wing Chapel-sponsored family retreat at Horn Creek Christian Camp and Conference Grounds Aug. 14 - 16.

"We wanted to have a retreat that was at least two hours away because we didn't want people trying to run home or to the office," said Chaplain (1st Lt.) Jennifer Ray, 50 SW. "We didn't want them to have Wi-Fi or television because that divides; we wanted families to bond, have fun and enjoy one another without distraction."

The weekend retreat gave attendees the opportunity focus on their family by offering activities such as horseback riding, a high ropes course, hiking, water slides, rock climbing, bowling and access to a recreation center in order to promote togetherness and family bonding.

"One of our goals was to bond more without the electronics, so it was amazing that there was no Wi-Fi or TV here," said Renee Harris, wife of Tech. Sgt. Jerald Harris, 50th Security Forces Squadron.  "It made us bond a lot more and we did everything together which was nice because we rarely do that."

In addition to family bonding, the retreat also featured a session focused on resiliency and goal setting.

"I think one of the biggest things missing in the Air Force's program of teaching resiliency is the family portion of it," said Master Sgt. Darrin Donovan, 50 SFS chief of logistics. "We spend a lot of our time, rightly so, focused on the service members -- mostly on junior members -- but this is one of the only forums I know of that gets the whole family involved at the same time."

Before the retreat, families were asked to answer three questions: What are your long term goals for your family?; What are your short term goals for this retreat? and How can you use your retreat experience to fuel your goals for your family? During the retreat they were encouraged to work on these goals together to become a closer family unit as well as more resilient.

"Initially I was wondering if we needed more teaching, but I think the families teach themselves in the bonding and the fun," said Ray. "The session that we did have was amazing, it was just right to give a couple of little nuggets to help the families along the way."

Although one of the goals of the retreat was to get the families thinking about goals and working together to create the appropriate steps to reach their goals as a unit, one of the most important areas of focus was bonding.

"We had our bonding as individual families, but we had a separate bonding as a Schriever family that just meant the world to me," said Ray.

The group bonding that took place during the retreat was valuable to many families who attended.

Donovan said for his family it was beneficial to listen to other families talk about the hardships they've endured and the retreat made them appreciate what they have had and the life that God has given them.

"I am just so grateful that the chapel had this opportunity and that I could be a part of it," said Ray. "I am thankful for the resources to be able to do retreats like this."

For more information about Chapel-sponsored retreats, call the 50 SW Chaplain's Office at 567-3705.