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Schriever families strengthen bonds, resiliency


Schriever youth play games while their parents attend a seminar during a 50th Space Wing Chaplains Office retreat at Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Sept. 30, 2017. Chaplain personnel organized classes and group activities to help families strengthen their connections during the weekend retreat. (Courtesy photo)


Chaplain (Capt.) Portmann Werner address Schriever Airmen and their families who are gathered for a seminar during a 50th Space Wing Chaplains Office retreat at Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Sept. 30, 2017. Airmen from a variety of squadrons attended the retreat, which focused on bringing families together for a fun time and to provide a break from the everyday routine. (Courtesy photo)


The 50th Space Wing Chaplains Office hosted a retreat to bring Schriever families together at Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Sept. 29-30.

More than 25 Airmen and their families participated in recreational activities to include a water park, an adventure park, climbing wall, rope course, arcade and dance party.

Chaplain (Capt.) Portmann Werner, 50 SW chaplain, was pleased with the large turnout of Airmen from a variety of squadrons across the base.

“I heard about Great Wolf Lodge, and thought it would be a good idea to call them up and see what we could arrange,” he said. “After spending the weekend there, it looked like a nice event and it’s something we definitely plan on doing multiple times throughout the year.”

The event was designed to bring families together for a fun time and a break from their everyday routines.

“The retreat was a blast,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Newbold, 25th Space Range Squadron intelligence analyst. “My family and I have never been to Great Wolf Lodge before. The accommodations and environment were nice. I have two boys - at first I was concerned there wouldn’t be much for my four-year-old to do, but it was definitely kid-friendly. It surpassed my expectations.”

Werner said this was the first time they have arranged a family retreat at this location, which took three months to plan.

“I was very impressed during our time there,” Werner said. “It felt like they rolled out the red carpet for all of us and everyone seemed very pleased. Families were able to get out and bond in a way they have never done before. Especially for those people who work nightshifts, this was important to spend quality time with their families.” 

The families were provided with free lodging, waterpark access and other activities at the resort.

“I signed up for this retreat a month ago,” said Tech. Sgt. Karla Chapman, 50th Force Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of career development. “I tried to keep it a surprise from my kids. Once we got to the parking lot and they saw where we were, they were so excited. They said I was the best mom in the world.”

“Throughout our time there, we kept forgetting we were home, because it felt like a vacation,” she continued. “My favorite part about it was that my kids and I had a wonderful opportunity to bond even more.”

Additionally, Werner led a class that covered resiliency, optimism and emotional intelligence.

“I took away a lot from his seminar,” Newbold said. “He spoke about setting up kids for success. Both of my kids are involved in sports, especially wrestling. My older son was having issues with how to manage a loss; the seminar gave us pointers on how to better approach this situation, because sometimes it can be difficult to know what to say when it comes to sports and even school grades. This was definitely worthwhile to be a part of that.”

The retreat proved to be valuable to many Airmen who attended. This was one of many retreats the Chaplain office hosted in the past year, the last being a Single Airmen Retreat in Vail, Colorado, last month. Each retreat, whether for couples, families or single Airmen, focused on fostering more in-depth relationships with fellow participants and growing together.

“This was the first family retreat I have attended,” Newbold said. “I am grateful the Chaplains office put this together. My family and I will be stationed in Florida in about a month, so this was our last horrah before we leave. I would say it was an extreme success overall.”

The Chapel staff hope there will continue to be large turnouts in the retreats to come.

“I thought it was a great chance to get families out and see big ‘A’ Airmen enjoy themselves with their families and also discuss information that will save them a lot of stress in the long term,” Werner said. “This was our goal for the retreat and that’s what we got. From what I saw, I am also really proud of our parents. I was impressed with their patience and the attentive parenting. We all had a wonderful time and I can see it continuing to be a success.”

The next family retreat is scheduled to take place at Great Wolf Lodge in January.

For more information about future retreats and Chapel events, contact the 50th SW Chaplains Office at 567-3705.

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