First Annual Retreat Hosted to Bring Foster Families Together


A gathering opportunity for local foster families was born a couple of years ago when Lacy Hardman of The Swell Retreat reached out to Kobi Prettyman, Lead Foster Adoptive Consultant for Utah Foster Care, to offer space for foster kids to play.

Last year, a conversation began about wanting to do more than just having the foster kids go out and play. There was a desire to help them develop skills that could benefit them in their life, ways to deal with some of the struggles and more. Back in November, they began planning an event to bring foster families together, which came to fruition over the last weekend.

Prettyman stated that there was about 30 foster children there throughout the two days, where a lot of emotional regulation exercises and skill building for emotions took place. The children were also able to learn how to fix their own meals, such as hobo dinners.

One activity that was a huge hit was a blindfolded hike, in which the older foster children led the younger ones through a hike and then switched roles. Prettyman stated that this was a demonstration of letting go and trusting, which was both empowering and scary.

The entire experience was a great way to build connections for these foster children that have similar experiences in order for them to not feel so alone. Prettyman said that she believes that a lot that attended now know that there is a level of normality and understanding, which is only a couple of the great things that came out of this experience. It was such a success, they are already planning for another trip next year.

Entire foster families were invited to this retreat, which meant that all of the individuals in the home were able to attend, whether they were in foster care or not. Those that were in the foster care program previously but were not anymore were also invited to attend.

Layne Miller, Price City Councilman and long-time foster parent, attended the retreat and stated that the important thing he got out of it was that it gave the foster children a chance to associate with other foster children and be able to be around children like them. He said that oftentimes, there is a bit of a stigma around being in foster care, and this experience showed the children that there are others like them.

He said this gave them a chance to not worry about their situation and just be children, which is one of the most important things that Miller believed this retreat gave them. The two-day event meant camping in tents, playing in water and really experiencing nature, which is something some of the foster children had never done.

Prettyman wished to thank the sponsors of this event, beginning with Lacy and Ben Hardman of The Swell Retreat. Kiwanis gave a big donation in which they bought a lot of the items for object lessons, while Coca-Cola bought all of the drinks for the whole weekend.

Castleview Hospital donated money for food, as well as Carbon Medical. Lin’s provided all of the food for the barbecue on the final night while Four Corners Community Behavioral Health provided s’mores. USU Extension provided finger lights and wrist bands for Escape the Vape. Prettyman stated they appreciate all the community support that rallied around them and those interested in helping foster families or learning how to volunteer can reach out to Utah Foster Care.

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