GARMISCH, Germany – Three days away from work to reinforce communication and relationship skills is what Soldiers and families of the 18th Engineer Brigade experienced here at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort on Jan. 15-17.<br /> <br /> The 18th Eng. Bde. Unit Ministry Team held three Strong Bonds retreats while staying in the town of Garmisch. Single soldier retreats for the 54th Engineer Battalion and Brigade Headquarters, in addition to a marriage retreat for the 54th Engineer Battalion.<br /> <br /> “Each retreat provides six hours of training as well as six hours where the soldiers, couples and families are supposed to take what they learn and apply it,” explained Chaplain (Maj.) Dean Akers, 18th Eng. Bde. Chaplain from Conway S.C. “Childcare is provided to allow adequate time for training and application of skills being learned.”<br /> <br /> “The training was good. Chaplain Glenn and Chaplain Akers hit everything right on the spot. It was like they knew everything about us,” said Pfc. Payne Bravo, utilities repairer hailing from Springhill, Fla. who attended the single soldiers retreat for the Brigade Headquarters.<br /> <br /> “The Chaplain touched on everyone’s learning style because it was visual, audio, and interactive. Just like a typical good classroom teacher he incorporated every way of learning to keep us all engaged,” said Taylor Bowers, wife of Sgt. Brent Bowers, signal noncommissioned officer from West Palm Beach, Fla. and attendee of the 54th Eng. Bn. Marriage retreat.<br /> <br /> “For me the most important thing is the interaction amongst the participants. Many times the participants can do much of the teaching by their life experiences,” said Akers. <br /> <br /> “I feel like we needed this, and I feel like the training is going to help to enhance our relationship,” said Spc. Anthony Ramon, combat engineer and native of Colorado Springs, Co. who attended the 54th Eng. Bn. marriage retreat.<br /> <br /> In addition to providing applicable skills training, these Strong Bonds retreats allowed adequate time for travel, relaxation, recreation, and fellowship with meals and rooms provided at the hotel free of charge.<br /> <br /> “The location is nice and convenient. There are lots of recreational activities around,” said Miryah Ramon, wife of Spc. Anthony Ramon. Miryah went to Austria with her husband in their leisure time as well as viewed the Olympic Stadium in Garmisch where they went sledding.<br /> <br /> Other leisure activities that soldiers participated in include going to the spa, relaxing in the hot tub, skiing and snowboarding, traveling to nearby castles and palaces, hiking through the Partnach Gorge, and traveling to the top of Germany’s highest mountain known as the Zugspitze. <br /> <br /> “The class, hanging out, it all helps to relax and get away from day-to-day stuff,” said Bravo.