2011 was the first year for this great new Jumonville weekend retreat. With Rev. Dr. Edward Saxman leading ten helpers, the first retreat drew nine families to the mountain. Rev. Saxman was inspired to start this retreat program by his two nephews with Autism and saw a need to develop a community of faith where all of the children are welcome to come to Jesus just as they are. This two-day retreat was an opportunity for Christians in the Western Pennsylvania to collaborate and celebrate their children and their faith in a family-friendly environment. This event is designed for families with children ages 3-11.
With a Registered Nurse, Clinical Psychologist, Speech Therapist, Educators, and Clergy staffing the retreat, parents were given resources to learn more about Autism and develop strategies to help their children as well as the peace of mind that their children would be with professionals while they were away. Alongside the educational opportunities provided, parents were given the options of two crafts as well as an adult-only swim and time to rest. The parents seemed to have just as much fun as the kids. While the parents were away, the children were given the opportunity to create and paint a clay pot, make paper, and play in a sensory-room. The sensory-room, fully equipped with puzzles, wooden blocks, bubbles, noise-makers, crayons, play-doh and much more, was a sensation with the 17 children who put up a fight when it was time to leave.
The retreat also had a worship team leading praise music after every meal and at three worship services throughout the weekend. A strong community of faith and friendship was built throughout the weekend through interactive worship and other family-friendly activities including hikes and bon-fires. At the close of the weekend the complaint that Rev. Saxman heard the most was that the retreat was too short.
However, all of the parents, and children, were already talking excitedly about next year’s Autism Family Retreat and did not want to leave the mountain. Rev. Saxman hopes that the retreat will continue to grow and draw families throughout the Western Pennsylvania.
For more detailed information, email Rev. Saxman at email@example.com or Jumonville at Sharon@jumonville.org