Adult Childrens’ Retreat, 2011
by Cheryl Jordan, daughter of Deputy Robert Varner, Navajo County SO (AZ), EOW 01/02/1989 and by Marty Jordan, Cheryl’s husband
Have you attended a Hands-On Program (HOP) sponsored by National C.O.P.S.?
C.O.P.S. offers HOPs for spouses, in-laws, siblings, parents, co-workers, fiancé(e)s/significant others, camp programs for children and Outward Bound for teens – there’s something for everyone!
We are fortunate to be able to say that we, as a couple, have attended the Adult Childrens’ Retreat (“ACR”) twice, and that Cheryl, on her own has attended the same Retreat several other times. This past June, we both attended the Retreat, and are so glad that we put aside our many other “need to do’s” and “should do’s” to make time in our busy schedules – it was a great weekend!
We can all find many excuses, er, reasons, not to attend, but we cannot say enough about how wonderfully refreshing and encouraging this weekend is. Do yourself a favor, and start making plans now to attend a 2012 HOP! Washington State C.O.P.S. provides a stipend to help defray the costs of travel, so it’s really a simple matter of allowing yourself a weekend to focus on yourself and enjoy the beauty of central Missouri.
The 2011 ACR had the highest number of participants ever – nearly 50 total! On Friday, most of us gathered in the Joanne Wayne Conference Room at St. Louis Lambert Airport, where we happily greeted old and new friends. After a bus ride on a very comfortable air-conditioned chartered bus to the gorgeous Trout Lodge facility in Potosi, we checked into our rooms and then gathered in the dining room for dinner. Over the next two days, we had debriefing sessions, some great self-introspection sessions, vicious games of twister, the always-challenging ropes course, campfire and s’mores, archery lessons, and shooting!
We decided to write the rest of this article from our own individual perspectives: Cheryl, as the surviving adult child, and Marty as Cheryl’s spouse.
One of the goals at the Retreats is to challenge yourself and to face or overcome fears. So, I signed up for the .22 shooting session, because I had never fired any type of gun and I had a long-standing fear (okay, maybe hatred is the more appropriate word) of guns, which was heightened when my Dad was killed in the line-of-duty by gunfire. Wardens from the Missouri Department of Fish and Wildlife volunteer their time and skills for this session. One of the wardens very immediately picked up on my apprehension (I bet he’s seen it many times before), so he “volunteered” me to go first!
He coached me on how to properly handle a gun, how to load it, how to aim, and what to expect. So, boom, boom, boom, ten times, and I figured I missed every single time (I have poor vision, so I really couldn’t see the target all that well – I just used the sights on the gun). Bullseyes (yup, more than one)!! In subsequent rounds, I hit a golf ball suspended from fishing line, destroyed some poor, harmless balloons, and hit dead center on a very small target. Don’t tell Marty I said this, but I’m a better shot than he is! It was a blast (pun intended), and it feels great to have overcome that fear (hatred) of guns. It also feels great to know that I did a pretty darn good job, too!
Monday morning, and time to head back home, came way too fast. It’s always so hard to say goodbye to people who truly “get it” and understand what you say, how you feel, and what your life is like. We had our own “debriefing” at the wine bar in the airport while we waited for our various flights. We stay in touch with each other via email, cell phone and Facebook, and the very common refrain is that we wish the Retreat lasted more than 2 1⁄2 days, and that it should be held more often (I vote for monthly!). I’m looking forward to the 2012 ACR and facing whatever challenge it presents. I truly hope that you’ll make plans to attend the HOP that is specific to you – you won’t regret doing so!
As Cheryl’s spouse, I’m always there to provide moral support. The Retreat is good for me because it helps me understand much of what affects her. It’s always great that even strangers you meet almost instantly become old friends. After one of the sessions, a couple of those present told me how they thought it was great that some spouses attended and how they wish that more spouses would. When I’ve attended in the past, I was the only spouse, but fortunately this year, there were two other spouses who attended. We were able to share our own perspectives as spouses with one another. As a spouse, even though I never met my father-in-law, since I married into the family many years after his death, this Retreat gives me insight into my wife and her family’s struggles and turmoils. Many of the things I’ve learned at this Retreat have allowed me to accept/absorb my own parents’ deaths, an unrelated but appreciated benefit
It’s a fun, enjoyable weekend with lots of laughter and you’ll learn a lot about yourself. This is a great program and we’re fortunate that C.O.P.S. provides the HOPS and continuing support to surviving families.
All I can say is to make your reservations, go, have a good time, and make some new life-long friends. There’s a reason why survivors refer to each other as family. And, don’t tell Cheryl that I intentionally missed – but look out for “eagle eye Cheryl.”￼