By Sgt. 1st Class Ronny Smith (Fort Carson)December 16, 2010
ESTES PARK, Colo. - Nineteen spouses and 45 children of deployed Soldiers from Fort Carson, Colo., participated in a weekend retreat Dec. 3 at the Emerald Lodge located at the YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park as part of the Strong Bonds program.
Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program designed to offer Soldiers and Family members the skills needed to fortify the marriage through training and also allow a time of relaxation while attending the retreat. Strong Bonds is conducted at an offsite location to maximize the training.
The retreat provided a safe and secure environment in which spouses were able to address life stressors within the marriage during the deployment.
"According to the spouses, having the quality time with their children and with other adults was very special," said Chap. (Maj.) Howard Fields, with the 43rd Sustainment Brigade.
This specific retreat was based on the book, "The Five Love Languages," written by Gary Chapman. The book speaks about the five languages of relationships: quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and physical touch.
While the spouses were learning the curriculum, their children were able to go on hikes with child care providers and also buildbird houses to keep them entertained.
"Having child care available proved to be very important during our time at the retreat," said Leah Fuller, wife of Army Sgt. 1st Class Curtis Fuller, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. "It gave us a much needed break, allowing us the time to get to know other spouses outside our normal circle of friends, and our children were entertained with watching movies, art projects and my son even got to go roller skating."
Families were given a meal card allowing for three meals a day. Also during free time, spouses participated in several different activities such as visiting the Stanley Hotel and photographing local areas and wildlife, such as elk. They also spent time playing and sitting around the fireplace talking deployments, relationships and shopping.
"The overall weekend was great. The classes were interesting, and I made new friends," said Sandra Hopkins, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason Hopkins, 360th Transportation Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd SB.