EDEN -- One of the toughest parts of being a military family is knowing that sooner or later, you will have to say goodbye.
Deploying to dangerous and far-off places is something airmen know they will face when they join the U.S. Air Force, but that doesn't make it any easier when the time comes.
To help airmen cope with the emotional roller coaster that often accompanies leaving, the Hill Air Force Base Chapel and the Wolf Creek Foundation sponsored a family retreat that began Friday and goes through Sunday afternoon.
The retreat has been held multiple times each year at Wolf Creek since 2006. The Air Force families pay only $50 for the retreat, and the rest of the cost is covered by the foundation.
Sue Munson, treasurer of the Wolf Creek Foundation, said the retreat has hosted more than 1,500 Hill families since its beginning five years ago.
Home and condo owners at Wolf Creek donate their homes to the family for the weekend.
This year's event featured approximately 200 families from Hill with members who either will deploy in the next few weeks or have recently come home from a deployment.
Activities planned include hiking, horseback riding, kayaking and a concert that is part of the Wolf Creek Foundation's "Music in the Mountains" summer concert series.
Although there is plenty for the families to do, only a small portion of it is mandatory.
"Part of the beauty of this retreat is the lack of structure," Munson said. "These families can come up here and relax and enjoy themselves."
Daniel Waterman, a Hill chaplain, said the families are required to attend about four hours of training sessions, which include classes on relationships, handling the pressures of a deployment, post traumatic stress disorder, and how to reintegrate into family life once returning from a deployment.
Waterman has been involved in the retreat since 2008 and said many families consider the weekend the highlight of their year.
"People are generally blown away," he said. "It exceeds people's expectations. This is lodging that people would normally have to pay thousands of dollars for. It really is an incredible experience."
Captain Leah Watson, who works at Hill's legal office, attended the retreat for her first time on Friday.
She will deploy for the first time in July, heading to southeast Asia for six months.
Watson will leave behind her 13-month-old son, Trystan, and her husband, Jeff.
"Trystan will be a completely different young man when I get back," she said. "I will miss a lot of milestones."
Watson said the retreat offers her one last chance to spend quality time with her husband and son.
"This (retreat) is vital to our sanity," she said. "We can come up here and spend time together and talk to other families that have been through this."