News: Symposium brings Guard families, volunteers, youth together for weekend of activities
FARGO, N.D. - Members of the North Dakota Patriot Guard lined the Sterling Conference Hall at the Holiday Inn in Fargo, N.D., to kick off a weekend of events during the Adjutant General's Symposium for Families and North Dakota National Guard Youth Symposium March 9-11.
An organization that is dedicated to showing reverence for its state's military members, the Patriot Guard was a fitting group to join a network of Guard families, volunteers and military youths during the weekend. Part of an extended "National Guard Family," attendees at the events gathered for a weekend's worth of presentations. There, they gained insight into the principles of leadership and built upon an enduring theme of resiliency.
"Our support system of families, volunteers, employers, retirees and youth are all a part of the North Dakota National Guard," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "You are part of our fiber, our core. This symposium is designed to reflect on our successes and to look forward to the future by equipping ourselves for future missions and challenges."
Service Member and Family Support Division Director Rob Keller said the Symposium for Families' overall theme states that "As leaders, we can all make a difference."
"If we embody the traits of good leadership, we can all make a difference in our own families, at work, in school and (throughout) our military community," he said. "This weekend gives us a chance to learn the skills to make that difference."
Hal Runkel, of the ScreamFree Institute, led the Symposium for Families' opening presentations with sessions on ScreamFree leadership and ScreamFree parenting. The institute is designed to "increase your influence by increasing your calm." Runkel helps families face conflict and create strong relationships. During the Symposium for Families, he focused on helping military families grow calmer and closer, increasing their ability to face the experiences of service, deployment and war.
Other sessions included break-out groups and a session from the North Dakota Attorney General's Office on protecting identities online.
The Symposium for Families ended with keynote speaker Trevor Hendrickson, whose father, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Hendrickson, was killed in Iraq while serving with the 957th Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge) Jan. 24, 2004.
Hendrickson discussed his journey from grief to resilience. He also shared photos and memories of his father, and the life lessons he learned from him.
"This is where I've come," Hendrickson said. "I've learned to become grateful and very thankful."
At the North Dakota National Guard Youth Symposium, attendees gathered for learning and socializing activities for military kids, including a dance and night of karaoke. Military children also attended presentations from Dee LeMay, a national team-building facilitator, and Dr. Sameer Hinduja, an assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University and co-founder of www.cyberbullying.us.
LeMay engaged the youths in physical and intellectual challenges, promoting effective communication, conflict resolution and tactics and tools for leadership skills. Hinduja led the youths in a discussion about social media and users' responsibilities within those forums.
The event ended with a presentation at the Symposium for Families. Youth Symposium attendees presented what they had learned during the weekend to their parents.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,800 soldiers and more than 1,800 airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 275 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that's more than four times the national average.