‘Compass’ guides teens toward resilience

U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Religious Support Office hosted “Compass,” a resilience retreat for community youth, March 2-3 at the Patch Barracks Religious Education Center.

Over the two day program, 21 high school students  participated in a variety of activities designed to help build confidence, camaraderie, and most importantly, resilience, according to RSO officials.

The name “Compass” comes from the four key points the program strives to impart to participants: communication, inner purpose, relationships and support systems … all of which make up the “road map” of a person’s life. 

The program is also designed to encourage military teens to explore the spiritual dimension of their lives through interaction with their peers, while providing them a safe space for personal growth and development.

“When young people respect and support each other and share their life experiences, an environment of spiritual resiliency is created,” said USAG Stuttgart Chaplain (Col.) Randall Dollinger. 

The event kicked off with a five-mile torchlight walk from Patch Barracks to a local German restaurant where the students enjoyed a “victory” meal. The long walk signified the start of their spiritual journey. The weekend continued with other activities that included arts and crafts, and team-building challenges.

The teenagers also participated in classroom discussions with religious directors from Stuttgart, Vicenza and Kaiserslautern. “From this event I was encouraged to build relationships and support systems, and to appreciate my friends and what I have. These lead to enjoying the good memories of being a military kid,” said Sydney Sample, 16. 

A highlight of the event was the transformation of the Patch Religious Education Center into the Compass Roadside Bistro. The participants prepared “food  for the soul” and decorated to create a special dining experience.

While enjoying the meal, the teens had an opportunity to reflect on the weekend’s events, what they had learned and the friends they had made. “One of the amazing results of ‘Compass’ was seeing the diversity of age and cultural backgrounds come together,” Dollinger said. The Compass participants will get to do that again in April, when the RSO hosts a reunion party.

For more information on U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart religious education programs, call 431-3078/civ. 07031-15-3078.