The Exceptional Family Member Program, Navy Gold Star and Morale, Welfare and Recreation designed a free weekend Wellness Retreat at Pacific Beach for 40 multi-generational participants, ranging from ages 2-70, with various medical conditions and trauma impacts.
The design of the weekend was guided by a review of multiple research studies that showed the positive impact of nature-based and primarily nonverbal intervention activities on human health that supported restorative practices, celebrated curiosity, encouraged usual and unusual connections, and connecting with others. Activities included “forest bathing” in the Quinault Rainforest, fire pits and s’mores in the moonlight, mindful art through canvas painting and tie-dye.
Because EFMP and Gold Star families have limited opportunities and capacity to engage in regular activities and are significantly more financially impacted than other military families, the weekend offered an opportunity to expand from survival to growth which was reflected in family comments:
The entire Annual Wellness Retreat Evolution…contributed greatly to my family’s well-being.
…a forest like that is such a spiritual place where my soul can rest.
The event was a success, providing participants a community with shared experiences, impacts, and healing through the wellness retreat activities.