2017 Police Wives SWAT Retreat Recap (Sweets, Wine and Training)
This was my first year attending SWAT. SWAT stands for “Sweets, Wine, and Training.” This year, ladies started arriving around 4pm on Friday, September 29th and most left shortly after 12pm on Sunday, October 1st, 2017. We rented out Audubon Center of the North Woods located in Sandstone, Minnesota and had their dining hall, main dorm, and 2 smaller bunk houses to ourselves along with the grounds.
We were blessed to have many donations for SWAT 2017, allowing us to have a whole table of goodies. Donated items were given away as prizes for our mixer games as well as raffle prizes for the early birds who were in their seats before the speakers started. We had many pairs of adorable LuLaRoe leggings from Shelby Kuphal, beautiful ThirtyOne bags from Gretchen Gifford and a donation from Aaron Vang with Fairway Mortgage Company. Their generous donations and sponsorships helped keep the weekend affordable while giving our members some great items to take home. New this year, attendees also got a “SWAT Weekend 2017” swag bag and a custom printed lanyard made just for this occasion.
We had a variety of speakers and activities throughout the weekend, including ice breakers to get to know each other and a craft each evening. Saturday consisted of a question/answer session with veteran law enforcement wives (LEOWs) followed by a session by fellow LEOW and Certified Life Coach Kathy Kuklok. She helped us to remember to take time for ourselves and to work towards our own hopes and dreams even in the midst of juggling a busy life. Each member received a packet of wildflower seeds as a reminder of her message: “You Grow Girl!”
There was free time on Saturday afternoon where some ladies chose to do the ropes course, others took out canoes, and a few caught up on sleep with an afternoon nap. Many enjoyed the gorgeous weather and the company of others while relaxing on the lawn.
Later in the afternoon, we had a viewing of the documentary ‘Officer Involved’ and an interactive presentation from Dustin Reichert, retired Anoka County Deputy and author of 10-88! Officer Down (the story of an officer-involved shooting, the politics involved and his survival of the PTSD that resulted from it all). As he was leaving the event, he noted, "I just had the honor of talking to and being involved in a Q&A session about Officer Involved Shootings and PTSD in a room filled with over 100 police wives. It was an HONOR. I'm far from having all the answers but hope I did my part. One of the most inspiring parts was knowing that a group like Backing the Blue Line: Police Wives of Minnesota exists and them working together means they work for resolutions together to understanding and addressing PTSD." Every woman in attendance also got a copy of Dustin’s book for a more in-depth look at the emotions of the humans involved in an officer involved shooting.
Sunday brought an optional worship service and later a presentation about “Purging the Poison of Fear” from Kevin Norton, Police Chaplain for agencies in St. Louis County, MN. While we’d love to just “Stop It,” working to lessen our worries and fears isn’t so simple. Kevin shared personal stories from his 25+ years as a Reverend and Chaplain of overcoming fear with faith, and included many inspirational quotes. Perhaps the one that resonated with me most was “Fear is Faith in the power of the enemy to destroy you.”
Going into this weekend, I knew what to expect - I had the schedule! But I had no idea how much fun I’d have, how renewed and at peace I’d feel leaving Sunday afternoon. We laughed about silly things and cried together when others shared their fears and memories of life on this side of the Thin Blue Line. We cheered each other on when ladies shared their dreams to sing the National Anthem at the Wild game. Yeah girl!
I left with a purpose - to let go of my fears, and stop putting emotion into events that hadn’t happened yet. To let go of guilt for not having a perfectly clean home, and Pinterest perfect daily projects with our son. To commit to taking more “You Do You” breaks, to refresh and be my best in whatever I’m doing. To accept that I’m not going to be perfect, but I am going to try and by taking care of myself, asking for help when I need it, and putting faith in God - my husband’s training - and his partners, I can sleep a little more easily.
Beyond that, I left with a renewed passion for BtBL. I’m so proud to be able to be involved with such an amazing organization that recognizes the need for weekends like this to support those who support our officers, because we can’t do much for others when we aren’t strong ourselves. With 1,700+ members in our private, vetted Facebook group, I know I am not alone and there is always someone to reach out to when I need it.
Above all, I left with a renewed sense of who I am and how proud I am to be the wife of a Deputy. I am committed to keeping my marriage strong despite the challenges this life throws at us, because even on the worst days I wouldn’t change our life for anything.
About the writer: Meghann currently serves as the Secretary on the Board of Directors for Backing the Blue Line (BtBL). Her husband is a Deputy in Central Minnesota, and she has been a part of BtBL since January 2016. She attended her first BtBL meeting that summer, a few short weeks after five officers were killed in the line of duty in Dallas, Texas. She felt the need to be with those who understood her emotions surrounding the situation and she hasn't missed a meeting since. Photos shared with permission of several BtBL members who brought their cameras to the SWAT retreat.