Our battalion recently hosted a FRG Family Night (aka battalion-level FRG meeting). Our theme? Caution: Deployment Challenges Ahead. Our message for the evening was that challenges are sure to arise during the deployment but we're all in this together. We want our FRG to provide as much information and share as many resources as possible to cope with the challenges that are to come.
During the meeting, we showed photos of our Soldiers from downrange, shared information with Families, and earned our "Self Care Cards" from the hospital representative (which allows card holders to receive free over-the-counter medications from on-post pharmacies). After the formal part of the meeting, we split into company-level FRGs so that FRG Leaders could talk company business with their Families. Our Family Readiness Support Assistant (FRSA) and Rear Detachment Commander (RDC) made rounds to each group to answer questions and record any issues that needed further review.
For the kids, we wanted to create a memory-making craft. Hopefully, it would also serve as a tool for the kids to deal with some of the emotions they will experience during this deployment. Our volunteers started by having the children sculpt with homemade play-dough. Suggestions were given for the kids ... "Make two hearts with your play-dough ... Now try to create a red dragon!" This turned out to be a really good "filler" activity until all the kids arrived.
|One of the play-dough red dragons!|
|The Wishing Tree is a wonderful story about a girl who stays close to her deployed dad by writing to him on yellow ribbons that she attaches to her "wishing tree."|
|Children working on their "Wishing Trees."|
|The kids really enjoyed tying on notes to their deployed Soldiers.|
This is how we made our "wishing" trees:
- sturdy branches
- empty, clean soup cans
- Plaster of Paris or "Pottery Plaster"
- bucket or bowl to mix the plaster, water, wooden or metal spoon
- construction paper, scissors
- clear tape
- decorations for the construction paper wraps: crayons, markers, stickers
- strips of yellow ribbon (big enough to write a short message on)
Before the meeting, we cut several strips of construction paper to fit around the soup cans. At the meeting, we let kids pick their strip and decorate it before wrapping around the soup can base. We also cut yellow ribbon into strips so the kids could leave with 3 - 4 yellow ribbons on their trees.
Other ideas for Families to do on their own: add stones, glitter, marbles, or other decorations to fill up the rest of the soup can; add more decorations to the construction paper wrap; add more ribbon or tie notecards to the branches with notes to the Soldier on them.
We were pleased with the outcome of our wishing trees and look forward to more fun projects in the future!