Unplug, Unwind, & Connect in Nature

December 2, 2022

Texas Military Department Family Support Services Teambuilding Retreat

Candlelight Ranch was proud to host a respite and teambuilding retreat for the Lead Soldier and Family Specialists from the Texas Military Department Family Support Services (TMDFSS) on October 18-20, 2022.  TMDFSS is a state umbrella organization providing a continuum of care and support services for service members and their families during deployment and sustainment operations.  This essential department ensures that resources for soldiers and their families across all military branches are accessible as loved ones prepare for deployment, serve away from home, and transition back to civilian life.  They support military families across a large geographical range, including the entire state of Texas, as well as many communities in New Mexico.  Specific services TMDFSS offers include Family and Youth Programs, Survivor Outreach Services, Resilience and Suicide Prevention, Transition and Employment, and Counseling.

We partnered with TMDFSS to provide their staff with a much-needed opportunity to unwind, unplug, and connect with nature.  The beauty and solitude of the Ranch allowed service members to escape their everyday workplace stresses.  Many of the staff found it impactful to disconnect from their phones and just spend time outdoors for a couple of days.  One person shared that “it was good to get out in an environment surrounded by nature, and not be distracted by technology.”  This retreat offered these service members a reminder to prioritize and focus on themselves so they can continue to help and heal others.  When we allow ourselves the opportunity to quietly exist in the moment, nature provides the tools necessary to lift burdens from our shoulders.  We are reacquainted with the calmness we are capable of experiencing when we are immersed in this beautiful sanctuary.  Throughout the weekend we heard comments like “it’s beautiful out here,” “spending time outside is good for the soul,” and “I had the best night’s sleep because I am so relaxed.”

While at the Ranch, the staff also participated in adventurous teambuilding and connection-making activities.  They engaged in a full ropes course experience which included the team wall, multiple ziplines, canyon crawl, high ropes tower, and power pole.  Personal confidence was found, fears were smashed, and a new sense of togetherness was created.  One of the soldiers shared that “it was so wonderful seeing my team laugh and smile for days,” and that “bonding during teambuilding actually WORKS!”  Additionally, the staff enjoyed the opportunity to unwind at a slower pace with archery, crafts, hanging out with Comet and Astro, and hiking on our trails.

Candlelight Ranch would like to extend a very special thank you to Garrison Brothers Distillery and Good Bourbon for a Good Cause for their generous support and sponsorship of this retreat.  We also want to recognize Dan Garrison for taking the time to visit with the staff over the weekend.  We are confident that the Texas Military Department Family Support Services managers returned to their posts renewed and ready to take on the responsibilities of the essential work they do providing support and resources to veterans and their families.