Please welcome another post from guest blogger, Erica Mossholder
About this time right now, many CCA families are waking up in gorgeous Tempe, Arizona, and many others are headed that way in cars and on planes. I am so excited for all of my CCA friends, but I also have a sadness lurking inside me today. I was unable to attend this year and all week I've been bummed that I will miss out on the amazing weekend that is retreat. Sometimes schedules just don't work out and I understand that, so I'll try not to pout and simply explain how important retreat is for me, even though I'm not a "kid" (though my husband would probably beg to differ, haha) or a parent!
The thing that I will miss most about the CCA retreat is the overwhelming sense of belonging. I attended my first retreat only two years ago in Boston. From that first retreat to the second in Louisville, I went from coming in as a newcomer to returning as a much-missed relative. I had stayed connected on Facebook and through emails with the people I met in Boston and when I arrived in Louisville, those connections picked up right where they left off. I believe that is the case for so many of our families.
Walking into the hotel ballrooms for breakfast during retreat is one of my favorite parts. It's like waking up and having breakfast with the biggest family I could ever imagine. I get to see cute sleepyheaded toddlers still curled up in their parents laps and boisterous little boys zooming in and out of tables, laughing in delight. There are teenage girls sitting around talking, texting and trading bracelets and high school secrets, and of course, there are plenty of parents chatting with one another over steaming mugs of coffee. The parents, though a little tired from fun in the sun and sightseeing, look so calm and happy that their children are playing with friends from across the country in a safe, welcoming atmosphere. The sense that we are a family and have a deep connection to one another is pervasive throughout the whole retreat, but perhaps it is best observed at those casual breakfasts (I would argue that it is best felt at the dinner dance, but that's another post entirely!).
I love being a part of CCA because I know that our family cares for one another throughout the whole year and we get to recharge our batteries at retreat. I am sad that I have to go another year without linking up to the energy and positivity that is generated at our retreats, but I know my friends will share it online and in their communities when they return. It cannot be expressed in words, but yet I'll try again. The bonds formed at CCA retreats do more for me, my self esteem, my sense of purpose and my desire for belonging than almost anything I’ve experienced. One parent once said that attending retreat did more for her child's emotional needs than a year in therapy ... and I believe it! We're a family, a village and a network of people who believe in each other, our worth and our potential.
To my retreat friends, I hope you have a wonderful time in Tempe and to other affected families and individuals who have never attended retreat, I urge you: Make it priority for Orlando 2013! I agree that is extremely hard to budget, plan, schedule and commit for a "vacation," but trust me: retreat is so much more than a vacation; for me and others at CCA, it's a family reunion and a integral life experience.