PHOENIX-Members of the Arizona Army National Guard and their families came together to learn to be more efficient military families at the Strong Bonds Family Retreat at the Hyatt Regency Feb. 22.

Strong Bonds Retreats are usually for married couples who want to learn to become better partners and parents, but for the first time this retreat included their children as well.

"The main thing about the weekend is really connecting the families and getting them to start thinking about what it takes to be an effective military family," said Mikie Hoeye, a senior family readiness support assistant for the Total Force Team - the Arizona National Guard's family and Soldier support office.

Families participated in team building exercises designed to inspire collaboration and help them define common goals.

"They built a collage, literally a vision of what their family is all about in just an hour and a half," Hoeye said. "It makes a big impact because it gives them a vision or flight plan of where they want to go and how to get there."

Part of the training is learning seven habits of an efficient military family and applying them to everyday life.

"You're going to get a stronger soldier, a stronger family and probably a future leader because our soldiers see the habits that make them effective," said Capt. John Lockhart, the full-time support chaplain for the Arizona National Guard.

"That's what this weekend is all about, it creates an opportunity to come together, relax and do a checkup. Let's get a recharge and be ready to step back out."

For Warrant Officer Tanya Gonzales the Strong Bonds event provided an opportunity to make new friends and learn at the same time.

"My son now understands the importance of his contribution to our family and also managing his time using the 'Big rocks/Little rocks' concept," Gonzales said.

Another Strong Bonds retreat is scheduled for later this year.