Project Sanctuary Retreat

Mother Nature was smiling down and gave us six beautifully sunny, yet slightly breezy at times, days for our 24th retreat at the YMCA of the Rockies. The retreat began with a wedding! Two of our favorites made it official after being friends for 20+ years by tying the knot in the Rockies.

A horseback ride adventure followed at Sombrero Stables. Although there were some apprehensive faces in the beginning, everyone was grinning from ear to ear when the returned to the barn.

The adults participated in two Healthy Marriage discussions where they learned more about themselves and their partners and how to communicate openly to one another. Although difficult, each person took away a better understanding of how their family interprets what they say and how they say it, allowing them to step back, take a breath and reevaluate how to get their point across. They were also able to take part in a discussion on Financial Peace, giving them resources to save money and budget their income more efficiently.

Later in the week, the children were pleasantly surprised by a visitor: Santa Clause came to town! But why did Santa come in June? Santa knows that oftentimes our military families are separated during the holidays, so he wanted to bring Christmas to them while they were together. He told stories, played games and even handed out gifts to all of the children.

Following Santa’s appearance, another surprise came during the family photo shoot. Chris Freisen and children pulled off the ultimate surprise to wife/mother Carrie: a vow renewal! Chris and Carrie, who were high school sweethearts, eloped as teenagers, never experiencing the ceremony, cake cutting and photo taking that so many take for granted. What better way to celebrate their 17th wedding anniversary than by renewing their vows lakeside with their children? The family is currently on their next adventure, moving to Italy where Chris has been stationed.

As with every retreat, counselors were available for open or closed door conversations. All of our counselors have training in PTSD and TBI management and are always available to help during and after the retreat.

Finally the retreat closed with a nice adults’ night out while the children stayed with staff and volunteers for a pajama party. The children enjoyed board games, movies and time just to be silly.

Many bonds were made and each family left with more friends and family members than they came with. Surprises were around every corner, proving once more that amazing things really do happen at the retreats.

For more information on upcoming retreats, please contact Randi at [email protected], or visit us at