Taking a weekend away from the demands of daily life can be difficult for the couples of Hill AFB, but the Air Expeditionary Retreat on resiliency provides an opportunity for them to have a good time and get advice about how to make a family work amid the stresses of Air Force life.
"We don't want it to be what I call 'death by PowerPoint,' where people just sort of sit around and listen to these lectures. We wanted it to be a good time for everyone, and draw them in," said Tech. Sgt. Glenn Jajliardo, NCOIC for the event. Chaplain (Capt.) Lucas Dalgleish served as the officer in charge.
The weekend took place at Wolf Creek's Pineview Lodge in scenic Eden, where each family stayed in their own room while the events were held in the reception area and restaurant nearby, Harley and Bucks.
The first day began with sign-in and group orientation with the kids present. The chaplains presiding over the event gave everyone an idea of what to expect for the next few days, where the kids could be dropped off when adult-only activities were happening, and where to get information about how to navigate around Eden.
"We're looking forward to this retreat, and we're pretty confident it's going to be the best one ever. There is more fun time than there is session time, and we hope you're aware of that," Chaplain Rick Jorgensen, the "Activities Guy," said.
After orientation, the families had three options: going for a hike through the surrounding mountain area, skiing at Wolf Creek, or going for a hayride at a local farm. Thankfully, there was enough time to do more than one for many families, since they had hours before they had to be back at Pineview.
Since it had not snowed in Eden, the man-made snow at Wolf Creek had to suffice for the skiers. At the hayride, the kids were allowed to play with the dogs who populated the farm, and even pet the young reindeer who were being stabled there at the time.
The Hoyt family, which includes five children and two parents, valued the time they had together, especially considering how busy they've been preparing to move to another base in Italy.
"It's great for the kids. They love all the games and the things they get to do. And then we get a chance to get some alone time. The sessions are a great chance to think about things that our crazy work schedule sometimes doesn't allow us to think about," Maj. Matt Hoyt, 75th Air Base Wing, said.
Later on, the kids were given their own area to play games while their parents took part in a couples' session where they discussed their own lives and were given advice about how to maintain the vows they had made to each other.
"This has been great. We have a two-year-old and a one-year-old in our house, so alone time is not very common. Seeing other parents with their kids has also been helpful, looking at how they keep their relationship alive through deployments and having the kids around," Vania Ferreira said.
Another event was a candle-lit dinner at Harley and Bucks Grill, where couples sat at tables of two.
The weekend ended on Sunday, with the families feeling energized for the holiday season and the responsibilities they face year-round.