By By Stephenie Tatum, Third Army/ARCENT Public AffairsAugust 8, 2012
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Twenty Third Army/ARCENT Families paused their every day lives July 27 to 29 and traveled to the Renaissance Asheville Hotel in Asheville, N.C. for a Strong Bonds Family retreat.
Hosted by the Third Army/ARCENT Special Troops Battalion Chaplain's Office, the three-day retreat was an opportunity for Families to learn how to become more effective as individuals and as a group, enjoy quality time together, as well as enjoy the city of Asheville and all it has to offer.
For many, the weekend was the first chance to enjoy life as a Family unit because of deployments or other military obligations.
"The retreat definitely benefited my Family because my husband recently returned from Kuwait. This was our first family time in a while. I liked how they incorporated a date night and provided childcare for the evening as well," said Sgt. AnnKatherine C. McIver, Third Army/ARCENT Special Troops Battalion personnel actions noncommissioned officer who has been in the Army for six years.
McIver and her husband, Sgt. Travis McIver, who is an administrative NCO in Third Army/ARCENT's Inspector General Office and an Orangeburg S.C. native, attended the retreat with their 22-month-old daughter, Aliyanah Tyree.
Sessions during the retreat were based on the Army-approved training, "7 Habits of Highly Effective Families for Army Families" by Stephen Covey. Family and financial issues, deployments, relocation, separation, parenting and other topics were discussed with the goal of helping the group to become more successful and prepared as military Families.
During the training sessions, children were invited and encouraged to attend the training with the adults, if age appropriate. Many of the activities involved Families working together to solve problems or complete a project as a group. For Families with small children, childcare was provided free of charge.
"Having the children actually participating in the training and not simply in childcare down the hall is a new experience for many that attended previous training events. During one activity where the children joined their parents in preparing a Family mission statement collage, one couple commented how nice it was to have their young toddler with them. 'We were starting to miss her,' they said, as they watched their young daughter add her own scribbles to the Family project," said Chaplain (Capt.) Karlyn Maschhoff, Third Army/ARCENT STB chaplain and native of Cedar Crest, N.M.
Maschhoff, who has been in the Army for eight years and conducting Strong Bonds training events for seven went on to say, "My hope is that Families recognize the strengths each member brings and discover how those strengths can work together to make the Family stronger and better prepared for the challenges ahead. I hope that through the training, our Families find the encouragement they need to get through difficult times by staying focused on the values that are important to them and the goals they wish to achieve as a Family."
After the mandatory training sessions Families were encouraged to venture out into the Asheville area to tour the city, Biltmore Estate or just find something to do that would be enjoyable for the entire Family.
Capt. Maritza Polanco, a Human Resources officer in Third Army/ARCENT G1, Programs and Policy office attended the retreat with her husband, Manuel Polanco Bonilla, a captain in the Army Reserves and their 16-month-old daughter, Marysol Leonor Polanco.
"The retreat was very beneficial for our Family as it not only gave us the opportunity to spend some quality time together but the training was amazing," said Maritza. The training flowed very well and really made us think a little deeper about aspects of our life that we wouldn't otherwise talk about … I would definitely recommend this training to anyone. You will definitely get some great insight not only from others but from yourself when you analyze yourself and your relationship with your spouse/Family."
In addition to Family retreats, the STB Chaplain's Office also offers marriage and single Soldier retreats for Third Army/ARCENT Soldiers and their Families, said Sgt. Jeremy Levens, Third Army/ARCENT Special Troops Battalion chaplain assistant and retreat coordinator.
Third Army operates headquarters worldwide to include Shaw Air Force Base, Kuwait and Afghanistan. Third Army operates as a command whose forces are deployed on a regular basis in several of the 20 countries in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The Third Army team stands ready to conduct operations anytime and anywhere as directed to deter or defeat adversaries while sustaining forces in theater in order to support combat and shaping operations. It continues to shape the operational environment to enable partner nations.
To learn more about the Third Army, visit www.arcent.army.mil or visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PattonsOwn.
For more information about Strong Bonds retreats, visit www.strongbonds.org.