When mom or dad has just come back from a deployment, it can be hard to get back to “normal life.” Teton Science Schools is proud to partner with the National Military Family Association to serve military families. The Operation Purple Family Retreat at TSS provides families with an engaging experience to reconnect and heal together after time apart.
In March of 2010, TSS hosted its first Operation Purple Family Retreat, a program designed to help families reconnect after the stresses surrounding a deployment. The first retreat, like those after it, combined family-centered activities with outdoor exploration to encourage each family’s growth. We are proud to say that this past weekend TSS hosted its thirteenth family retreat, welcoming nearly 100 participants to the snowy Tetons.
The retreat included 17 families from 11 different states with representation from the Army, Army National Guard, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Led by TSS instructors and AmeriCorps members, families skied and snowshoed through Grand Teton National Park, learning about the ecology and natural history of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Families not only developed connections to the natural world, but they developed connections with each other through teambuilding activities on the Doug Walker Challenge Course and communication and resiliency building sessions with consultants from FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress™). The retreat was accented by visits to the National Museum of Wildlife Art and the National Elk Refuge, where families rode on horse-drawn sleighs to observe elk behavior up close. To wrap up the retreat, all families participated in a stewardship project to sustain this ecosystem – particularly its stream corridors and bird habitat – for future generations.
Upon departure, one parent reflected, “It’s been a while since we all laughed this much together!” Another family described their experience saying, “It gave my kids an opportunity to connect with other kids going through the same things in life in a wonderful environment with life long memories!” Yet another family added “Thank you Operation Purple for guiding us on how to spend time together as a family! Thank you for helping us to build memories with each other we will never forget!”
Operation Purple Family Retreat is a transformative experience for military families, but it is also a powerful experience for the TSS Field Education Team. We are proud to serve our military families and are already looking forward to our next Operation Purple Family Retreat in June.
Thank you to our partners and supporters: National Military Family Association, FOCUS, Grand Teton National Park, National Museum of Wildlife Art, Bar T 5, and Babies on the Go.
Finally, take a look at the video below, filmed during our 2015 retreat.