Shepherd's Pasture - Jefferson, TX, 75657

United We Serve Family BootCamp a Success

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A very successful retreat was held at Shepherd's Pasture in Jefferson, Texas this past weekend. This retreat along with ongoing monthly retreats are made possible through the TRIAD Fund Grant, through the Dallas Foundation. The quality venue provided Military families a time of rejuvenation and relaxation. Through strategic activities, seminars, and rap sessions for all ages, each family member worked together on common ground to battle buddy together during these difficult times of deployment and reentry. Youth were given a sense of responsibility and purpose as they enjoyed various leadership roles directed toward channeling their experiences to help reach out to younger youth who need support and encouragement. Children engaged in a mock boot camp to help better acquaint them with basic military behavior and to create a greater understanding and connection to their military family member.

Some activities over this past weekend sought to develop a sense of camaraderie amongst all peer groups. Various activities included a group Scavenger Hunt, bonfire with s'mores, steam engine train ride, adult seminar sessions, mock boot camp for children and youth with a Change of Command Ceremony, youth rap Session, and Chapel Service.

The Scavenger Hunt was an engrossing hunt in the woods with a twist. Teams were given their first clue to aid them before they headed out into our 23 acres of wooded hillsides. Teams solved the clue or mystery in order to reach the location and receive the next clue leading to the following challenge. Once the teams solved all of the clues, they worked together to unravel the final mystery leading to their final destination.

Our Steam Engine Train Ride swept us back in time to the 19th century in the 5th oldest town in Texas. Shrouded in a cloud of steam, Engine #7, the R.E. Lee, paused at the platform. With a hearty "All Aboard" the engineer cracked the throttle and the old engine chugged away into the distance. The route skirted the Big Cypress Bayou for a five mile, half hour round trip. Along the way, passengers viewed the only remaining civil war era Confederate powder magazine, the first artificial gas plant in the state, as well as many other historic sites.

Throughout the day, Seminars were offered in the areas of Personal, Family, and Financial Management. Hope for the Heart conducted Saturday Seminars covering Anger, Counseling, Communication, and Care Giving. A representative from The National Endowment for Financial Education® came and educated us on the skills necessary to take control of our personal finances. The innovative training used contemporary materials to teach the basics of personal finance that will influence us for the rest of our lives. It was based on the philosophy that learning about money is as important as earning it-and that effective money management results from a disciplined behavior. Our final adult seminar was designed specifically for military spouses, "Mil Speak for Military Spouses and Family 'What the heck are they talking about?'", held Sunday morning, offered hands on tools to maneuver your way through the mind fields of military acronyms. This two hour venue served as an incredible outlet for spouses to speak about the struggles and concerns they have as their counterpart is deployed. We covered strategies to assist in reentry, creative ways to keep in touch with your loved one, and ways to make a place now for the deployed spouse when they return.

The Children's Mock Boot Camp, offered for ages walking-17 during seminar times, turned education concerning military behavior into a hands-on fun learning experience. Children were broken into companies (Alpha-Delta) according to age. All participants started with the rank of Private and were promoted throughout the weekend for showing good code of conduct (example: Saluting of Officers and Standing At Ease) and other exemplary behavior. Throughout the weekend the children had the opportunity to better understand what their loved one's role was in the Military. Furthermore, the children met and socialized with other children their age that are dealing with the same stresses of being a military child. Throughout the course of the weekend the children worked to prepare for a Change of Command Ceremony which allowed them to showcase their new talents and skills.

A final Youth Rap Session took place following the Change of Command Ceremony. Lori Payne, a Licensed Counselor, spent time in a group session with 8-17 yrs olds to give them a time to convey their concerns and needs along with creating a game plan for when their deployed loved one returns. The Youth discussed a range of topics pertaining to expectations, pressures, and communication. This valuable time created a great outlet for youth to express themselves. A fitting end to a refreshing and successful retreat. Relationships and friendships were built that will continue long past this retreat.

Chapel was offered to all participants at Shepherd's Pasture. Our chaplain, Pastor Keith Barnett, delivered a practical message on a Servant's Heart; how daily we can show our love by laying down our life for a friend.

Sacrifice, Commitment, and Discipline are words a military family lives out everyday. We are so thankful to have the opportunity to serve those who serve; to bond together with those who truly know what is means to lay your life down for a friend. Especially this month as we celebrate our freedom and independence, we are reminded that when is comes to love some do count the cost... and do it anyway, because they know that freedom comes at a price and they step up to the frontlines. Thank you for your service and sacrifice!

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Shepherd's Pasture
5645 US Hwy 59 South
Jefferson, TX, 75657
Call: (903) 665-2647


Shepherd's Pasture Retreat & Conference Center

Shepherd's Pasture is a Christian Retreat and Conference Center set on 24 beautiful acres of whispering piny woods, streams, trails and pasture land in East Texas.