One of my greatest joys this year has been the experience of spending time with families at the Parent Retreat. As a therapist, I get the privilege of becoming intimately involved in the lives of families, but they are often those families which are specifically related to my students. This past week presented an extraordinary opportunity for me to experience families which I normally wouldn't have had the opportunity to. This experience was made possible through CALO's first Parent Retreat. It was an exciting time for families to spend intensive time with their students laughing, having fun, feeling acceptance, getting wet, fishing, building relationships, and growing.
The theme of the Parent Retreat was Growth Outside of the Comfort Zone and provided each one of us (parents, students, staff, therapists, administration) the amazing experience of particpating in activities, seminars, and conditions (rain) outside of our comfort zones. It was truly a wonderful opportunity to interact with families in the team challenges, walk and talk in the rain, stand shoulder to shoulder fishing, ride in the bus, and get to know families on a more intimate level.
As a therapist, I couldn't help but reflect on my own experience and those opportunities which were significant for me. The moments came to me in a wave of gratitude as a sat with my family the day after the retreat. I thought about how lucky I was to help create and cook meals, get to sleep in a cabin with other staff and laugh like school boys at camp, sit on the porch and talk with a dad about his emotion pain, cheer on a mom being fed baby food by her daughter, help a son and his dad punch holes in leather to make a journal, and even sweeping the floor of the dining hall with a fellow therapist. These were just a few of the memories and experiences which I will always take with me. I actually want to say thanks to all the families and staff who contributed to making this Retreat so memorable and meaningful.
It would appear from the consistent feedback we received, that CALO will be scheduling more Parent Retreats and continuing to build on the relational opportunities which it provides. This feedback was not just from parents, but from students as well who said that they were surprised at the amount of fun and meaningful time they had with their families, "We should definitely do this again!". I personally look forward to the next Parent Retreat and the chance to experience intimacy, fun, connection, and growth.