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Georgia Airmen focus on resiliency during high adventure Strong Bonds retreat

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
  • 116 ACW Public Affairs
Resiliency through relationships and teamwork was the theme of the weekend as single Airmen from Air National Guard units across Georgia gathered for a Strong Bonds Singles Retreat at the Sea Palms Resort June 26-28.

Traveling high through the trees on a 600-foot long tree house zip line; attempting to escape a simulated stranded island as a team; comical group problem solving events reminiscent of children playing in a school yard; combined with classroom training and small group discussions, all combined to provide a high adventure training experience for the Airmen.

The retreat, hosted by chaplains from the 116th Air Control wing, was aimed at helping the Airmen build relationships, learn to trust people, and hone their        team building skills.

"First and foremost, it matters that our Airmen are building their resiliency skills, their ability to cope with life and be strong," said Chaplain Maj. Donald Bridges, a full-time chaplain with the 116th Air Control Wing. "Strong Bonds is a major component of helping Airmen be resilient."

Each year the unit conducts several retreats for both married and single Airmen as well as offering the Seven Habits for Highly Effective Airmen course, all a part of the Strong Bonds program.

This weekend was about Airmen celebrating being single and offering them options to help them be strong single Airmen as well as avoiding patterns of unhealthy, dysfunctional relationships, according to Bridges. 

"Training like Strong Bonds teaches Airmen to be happy with who they are and build stronger relationships," said Chaplain Maj. James Taylor, 116th ACW chaplain and instructor for the event. "A person who is happy being who they are is going to be a better Airman. This relates not only to dating relationships but also in work relationships."

"People that are happy and healthy bring that to work," added Bridges. "They make better leaders and develop better people, because leadership is a relationship business."

As a retreat for single Airmen, classroom instruction centered around a course aptly titled, "How to avoid falling for a jerk or jerkette."

"A takeaway for me this weekend was learning that when I go into the dating world, or any type of relationship, I need to take the time to slow down and really get to know the person," Staff Sgt. Michelle Self, with the 116th Air Control Wing. "We got a lot of really good tools this weekend along with an outline to help us with the things we need to know about other people like characteristics, interests, personality traits, and compatibility information."

According to Chaplain Taylor, the weekend was structured using different methods of teaching to appeal to the different ways people learn.

"I felt like I learned most about myself during the outdoor adventure events," said 2nd Lt. Cicely Georges, from the 117th Air Control Squadron. "In particular, learning how to work as a team and understanding the process in accomplishing a main goal. I think that's going to help me both in my professional career and personal relationships."