STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. --
“Learning our different personalities.”
These were just a few of the things families took away from this year’s Strong Bonds Family Retreat at Jiminy Peak Resort in Hancock, Massachusetts, July 6-8.
The 109th Airlift Wing’s Chaplain Corps holds Strong Bonds events a few times a year for families, couples and even singles in an effort to strengthen relationships.
“The main reason why Strong Bonds exists is because of the brokenness in families that can happen over deployments,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Joshua Choquette, 109th Airlift Wing chaplain. “Along with that, in the Guard life, we’re transitioning from civilian to military, and the lack of understanding can really break down relationships. The Guard came up with this program to help rebuild relationships. It started with couples and then graduated to families because the kids are affected as well. And then they thought it was great to use with singles to help them build healthy relationships.”
The Strong Bonds events are centered around Stephen Covey’s bestselling book “The Speed of Trust” and incorporate lessons and activities designed to strengthen relationships. Aspects of the program include understanding the different personalities within your relationships and various behaviors that help improve trust.
“It really gets you to think a lot about how your family interacts, how you can improve and also how to enjoy your successes,” said Nicole Aldi. The Aldi family was one of 20 families to attend the family retreat.
“The resources that we’re able to take home with us are also great,” added her husband, Master Sgt. Gregory Aldi.
Lindsay Knott attended the event with her husband, Tech. Sgt. Michael Knott, and their three children, and said they loved being able to “spend time together as a family, without the normal hustle and bustle of home.”
She also said learning about their different personalities was great.
“It helps us to understand ourselves, our spouses and our kids’ personalities. It also shows us how those personalities work and what does not work for them. It will be interesting to see how we can put that knowledge to use in the future.”
For Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Perkins and her son, Jaksen, it’s the bonds they are able to form during the program that really have an impact.
“I think the biggest thing we get out of it is to be able to have an environment where we can actually get to know other military families,” she said. “It’s nice to share that bond.”
“The chaplain team does an amazing job of fostering a loving and judgement-free environment,” said Senior Master Sgt. Aletha Camack who attended with her husband and daughter. “This extends a willingness for families to participate in the group discussions andactivities, resulting in revealing areas of concern families may be facingand allowing them to work through them together.”
Families also got time to explore the resort with their families and spend some quality time together.
“I think everyone is going to walk away with different things, and I think that’s great,” Choquette said. “My hope is that they’re open. Whether it’s something concrete like the 13 behaviors or just talking about trust and engaging with their families or maybe it’s just time away with their families. Whatever it is that that family needs.”