Tag Archives: retreats

Military: Sign up now for free summer camp, and free family retreats

Military child climbs rock wall: Photo: NMFA
Military child climbs rock wall: Photo: NMFA

Applications are available now through April 6 for the National Military Family Association Operation Purple Camp program.  The program provides military children with 1 free week of summer camp in locations across the US.  Eligibility is as follows:

“Operation Purple camps are open to military children with a parent or guardian from any service branch, including National Guard and Reserve, Coast Guard, and the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Priority is given to children who have a parent or guardian who incurred service-connected injuries or illness on or after 9/11 or will have a parent or guardian deployed during a 15-month deployment “window;” this includes pre-, during and post-deployment phases. Remaining camp slots are filled with any DEERS-eligible military child. Children of retired military personnel are eligible if the service member was injured or ill on or after 9/11 or deployed at any time during the current deployment “window” before retirement. Specific “window” time frames will  be announced each year.”

This is a TERRIFIC program. My daughter went while my husband was deployed to AFG.  It was a really great experience.

GO HERE TO read more and apply for kids summer camp

Family activity at Operation Purple Healing Adventures. Photo: NMFA
Family activity at Operation Purple Healing Adventures. Photo: NMFA

Also, families may apply to Operation Healing Adventure, in Northeastern Pennsylvania in June.

Operation Purple Healing Adventures celebrates rediscovering family-fun and togetherness after an injury. This FREE three-day experience combines family-focused activities with outdoor exploration, like hiking and canoeing to encourage each family’s growth on their new journey post-injury. Our Association welcomes wounded, ill, injured, medically separated, or medically retired military families to reconnect at Healing Adventures. Using specially adapted communication activities developed by FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress™), Healing Adventures ensures your family returns home strong and resilient. 

Food and lodging are provided to families at no cost. There are no activity fees or other expenses. Families are responsible for their own transportation to and from the program. 

Go here to apply for Operation Healing Adventures for families

NASHVILLE: Operation Purple Family Retreat OPEN

imagesCalling all veterans and active duty in the Nashville / Ft Campbell area. National Military Family Association is still taking registration for their upcoming Operation Purple Family Retreat October 3 – 6.  Other than getting you and your family there, it’s free.

From their site:  Coming back together after a deployment can be difficult. Operation Purple Family Retreats provide military families with the opportunity to reconnect as a family. We are using our popular ‘camp’ approach and bringing families to beautiful outdoor locations in order to provide fun family oriented activities, new memory making, and the ability to spend quality time together. Specially adapted communication activities developed by FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress ™) ensure families return home stronger. Families are able to connect in a “purple” environment that brings families from all ranks and services including National Guard and Reserve components together as a community. We are climbing, hiking, canoeing, bonding, eating s’mores, and more!

operation-purple-logoAbout the retreat and the camp:

Apply Now!

YMCA Camp Widjiwagan is located on the shores of Percy Priest Lake, in Nashville, Tennessee, just 20 minutes from downtown. Joe C. Davis YMCA Outdoor Center sits on 320 acres and 4 miles of shoreline. Water Activities include: swimming, Wet Willy Water slide, the Blob, sailing and many more. Land activities include: horseback riding, soccer, basketball, alpine tower, zip line, archery, arts & crafts and many more.
The camp sponsor is the wonderful USO.
Find Out More:  Visit www.campwidji.org for more information about our camp.

Expedition Balance: It isn’t a building

Carl Salazar, top with (left) I-am-Wallace, Sherri Smith, & Chris Wagmaster Leisinger at Camp For All. Photo: Expedition Balance

“Mission: We are committed to helping combat veterans who return home with emotional trauma regain their lives. It starts with a week in the woods and ends with veterans reconnected to their families, friends and futures.”

From Carl Salazar, USN Veteran, Founder & Director of Expedition Balance

Completely exhausted after another experience at Camp For All with some real-life heroes. Life-Changing. In our closing conversation, I told the Veterans and teachers of Expedition 10.13 this: Expedition Balance is not a building. There is no world headquarters, no ExBal street. It is not a t-shirt, a yoga studio, a slogan, nor other stuff.

Expedition Balance is people.

It is yoga and meditation teachers, big-hearted volunteers, people who come to fundraisers, people who help us spread the word, people who donate their hard-earned money, people who write nice things about us, doctors and social-workers at the VA. Veterans.

To all you wonderful people who built ExBal into something that has changed a few peoples’ lives – thank you. To the people who made Expedition 10.13 a living, breathing demonstration of love in action – thank you. It is a sacrifice for our volunteers to give up their time and expertise for free. It is incredibly brave for our Veterans to show up and open their hearts to new experiences so they can help themselves. I am proud of all of you. I love all of you.

Thank you for enabling me to live to my fullest. Thank you for bringing out the best in me. Thank you for giving my life purpose. We make a difference. Together.

For more information on Expedition Balance, please find them on Facebook, twitter @ExBal and go to their website.


Two Upcoming Veterans Retreats in California

HPW Rafting 2012 pic 01


By Dyan Ferguson, Founder, Honoring The Path of The Warrior, and US Army veteran

Honoring the Path of the Warrior is pleased to announce our two upcoming retreats:

  1.  The Women Veterans Retreat at Tassajara Mountain Retreat Center from June 17th – June 21st 2013 and
  2.  The Whitewater Rafting trip open to both men and women from July 30th to August 2nd.

Both of these events combine nature and engaging physical activities with meditation, Sensory Awareness and mindfulness practices.  The intent is to provide Veterans with connection, community and tools that support them in using their strengths and experiences to find a meaningful and productive path in civilian life.

US Navy veteran Scott Gunning made this video about a White Water Rafting retreat by Honoring The Path of The Warrior.
US Army veteran Steve Lewis talks about his experience: “You get a bond, and you have fun….” Here’s what others have said about these events:

I really can’t put into words what this trip meant for me, but I can say that this was easily one of the most meaningful and special experiences in my life.  I got more out of this 4 day trip than I did in the entire 5 months that I was in the […] PTSD program.”

“I just want to take the time to say thank you both from my complete and whole heart for what you two have given me this weekend. I’m speechless cause the gift you both gave me was HOPE. And I really can’t remember the last time I truly had it. The act of pulling a trigger from a man made weapon on another human being has shattered my person. You both have given me the hope and energy I need to some how find a way to try to put my shattered soul back together.”

All events are nondenominational and are completely free of charge to veterans.  We do, however, welcome contributions from veterans and members of the broader community so that other veterans may attend future events.  Please support us as you are able:  Honoring The Path. 

Sign Up Now for Free Veterans Retreat: Expedition Balance

Read about the Ropes Course
Read about the Ropes Course

Carl Salazar, US Navy Veteran and founder of Expedition Balance writes:

I got the call around 11:00. The number wasn’t familiar and I let it ring. A few minutes later, I listened to the message. Her words reminded me of the other callers – mothers, wives, and Vets. I could hear their voices. This time it was the wife of a Vet. Her husband served in Afghanistan and suffered from PTSD. Like most things, this condition varies by degree. On the mild side, you might have headaches and nightmares. At it’s worst, PTSD destroys lives. It inflicts through drug & alcohol abuse, homelessness, violence, suicide. For the kids who go out and fight our wars – and their families – their lives are the price of our freedom. They are never the same again.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 10.20.30 PM
Click to sign up!

I’m urging you to go over and read the rest of his piece over on tumblr. Carl is in the good fight like the rest of us. Please tell people (or apply yourself) for one of the slots at the Expedition Balance retreat on May 16-19 for a few days of yoga, meditation, and the added physical challenges of hiking, a bit of horseback riding, archery, and an obstacle course that you have not seen since Boyscout bootcamp. Check out this post about one participant’s experience.

It’s fun, it’s building a small community, a chance to break beyond those four walls whether physical or mental, and be a part of something that will give you what you deserve –freedom from worry and fear, and most of all, a few days of fun. When you leave, you’ll have re-found your balance.

  1. What: Expedition Balance Veterans Retreat
  2. Where: Texas, about 2 hours outside of Houston
  3. Cost: Free
  4. Who: Expedition Balance (founded by a veteran, created by veterans for veterans)
  5. Sign up where: Right here
  6. If you haven’t done yoga: that’s okay. Most people in the world haven’t done it either. Go, have fun. Try it!
  7. If you can’t go, then consider donating to keep the organization going. If you want to find free yoga in your area, go to Yoga For Vets. Carl


In San Francisco: Whitewater Rafting & Women Veterans Retreat

Honoring The Path of the Warrior is having its Spring Fundraiser, a raffle to fund a 

Whitewater Rafting trip and a retreat for women veterans. Go here to purchase your tickets!  Your support is needed in order to make them happen, as all of the events are offered to OEF, OIF and Gulf War veterans at no charge. The raffle prizes are some of the best I’ve seen: resorts in Mexico and Calistoga, a white water rafting trip, massage, art work. Really, kids. These are serious prizes.

Here’s what one veteran had to say about a past HTPW event:

“Coming to the one-day events with other veterans, I feel like I am coming together with my family.  As vets we kind of walk with the same rhythm.  There is a sense of kinship.  You know that other person understands what is essential.  You’ve lived on what is essential and you know you can be 

fine with that. This is why mindfulness and meditation goes so well with veterans.  It is about getting down to that essential stuff – breathing, walking in silence.  It is like what we learned and were trained in, in order to do our duties. Maybe you are being mindful in a different way, but it is still mindfulness.   I have no desire to meet my fellow vets out at a bar.  It is the place and quality of being held and cared for that makes these days very appealing and healing.”

– Paige Jenkins, U.S. Navy

Facilitated by Dyan Ferguson, a former US Army officer, Honoring the Path of the Warrior is a program that assists post 9/11 and Persian Gulf veterans in making a positive transition from military to civilian life. We provide a pathway of meditation and mindfulness that welcomes, honors, and integrates their service and leadership. 

Their programs combine nature and engaging physical activities; meditation, Sensory Awareness and mindfulness practices. The intent is to provide Veterans with connection, community and tools that support them in using their strengths and experiences to find a meaningful and productive path in civilian life.