Surviving Parents Smoky Mountains Fishing Retreat

add to outlook calendar add to gmail calendar August 31 - September 4, 2022
Bryson City, North Carolina
Entry Form Open from June 1, 2022 to June 10, 2022

In accordance with the most current information available, as of May 1, 2022, TAPS lifted the requirement to provide proof of full vaccination to attend in-person events. We will continue to monitor COVID variants and we may adjust protocols to ensure safe and healthy gatherings. These adjustments could once again include requiring proof of full vaccination and/or a negative COVID test. 

All surviving parents grieving the loss of a loved one who served in the U.S. Armed Forces are warmly invited to join the 2022 Surviving Parents Smoky Mountains Fishing Retreat. We will explore the wilderness of our earth and of our grief alongside fellow surviving parents. These therapeutic, outdoor, skills-based events require no prior experience and are led by both TAPS facilitators and professional outdoor guides through some of the world’s most inspiring landscapes.


smoky mountains

smoky mountains



In partnership with the National Park Trust and Trout Unlimited, TAPS has prepared for you a healing journey for the mind, body, and soul. Join with fellow surviving parents in this immerse experience in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We will form unique bonds stemming from our shared experiences of loss and grief as we connect with the land and waters, through the power of fly fishing.

Our accommodations are one large family cabin with individual rooms with one king bed, so priority will be given to couples who are comfortable sharing a bed.

Qualified, volunteer guides at Trout Unlimited will provide their expertise in fishing education and support our physical safety in a variety of outdoor spaces. Visit the National Park Trust or Trout Unlimited for more information.



Day 1:  On this travel day, everyone should arrive at The Hive Lodge in Bryson City, North Carolina by 5 p.m. TAPS staff will be there to greet you and get you checked in. We’ll have an opportunity to get settled in, meet fellow survivors, enjoy dinner together, and relax.

Day 2:  We’ll start the day with breakfast, get an overview of what to expect, and we’ll work together to get our questions answered and build our team. We will work with volunteers from the local Trout Unlimited Chapter to learn the ins and outs of fly fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains, get acquainted with gear, and enjoy time together on our secluded property. We’ll wrap up with a group dinner in the evening.

Day 3: The third day will include time fly fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains as well as some free time to relax and further connect with your fellow surviving parents.

Day 4: On our final day of activities, we'll have the opportunity for another full day of fishing activities, then, we'll conclude our time together reflecting on our new connections and our next journeys ahead.

Day 5: We'll say our “see you laters” and travel home.



This retreat is rated as a light-intensity adventure. We'll be active and everyone will have an opportunity to challenge themselves. Activities will involve light physical exertion. Much of our time will be spent outdoors fly fishing and enjoying the incredible scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains. 



All trip fees from Wednesday evening through Sunday afternoon are covered by TAPS thanks to our generous donors. 

Trip fees not noted above are your pre/post retreat transportation costs, meals outside of events, guide gratuities and gear not provided.



Thanks to the generosity of TAPS partners and donors, lodging at The Hive Lodge is provided for all attendees from Wednesday, August 31 through Sunday, September 4, 2022. The accommodations are in one family cabin with one king bed per room; priority will be given to couples who are comfortable sharing a bed.

Participants will cover the cost of transportation to and from Bryson City, North Carolina, as well as lodging outside of the dates which TAPS provides. The closest airport is the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL). Complimentary shuttle transportation to and from the airport will be provided.

If your application is approved, we will ask you to officially register for this event.  Only after you have completed your registration and receive the welcome email should you make your travel plans.  Please do not make travel arrangements until your participation is confirmed.



Entry forms will be open from June 1 to June 10, 2022 (look for the blue button at the top of this page at that time). TAPS will review all applications and communicate selection of participants no later than June 22. TAPS will review applications, giving first consideration for those who have never attended this or any other TAPS retreat, in order that the greatest number of survivors can have an opportunity to attend. Thank you for your understanding. 

If you have any questions, please email or call 800-959-TAPS (8277).


Retreat Facilitators

Rachel Hunsell


Rachel Hunsell, Program Manager for Outdoor Engagement

Rachel develops, implements and supports programming in the outdoors across the TAPS network, including our backcountry Expeditions. Rachel connects survivors with the healing power of the outdoors and encourages participants to reconnect with their inner strength by creating emotionally safe and understanding environments. As a survivor honoring the life and death of her brother, Marine Lance Cpl J. Kyle Price, she understands the valleys and mountaintops we experience along the journey after loss.

Rich and Julie Cliff


Rich Cliff

Rich is a TAPS Survivor Care Team Associate and provides outreach to surviving military family members as a peer professional. He is a survivor’s initial line of support, providing a link to the resources and care TAPS has to offer. His goal is to make every survivor confident that he or she is not alone and has the TAPS family of military survivors to share the journey every step of the way. He is also a U.S. Army veteran, having served in Vietnam in 1970-71.

Julie Cliff

Julie, a TAPS Volunteer, is a retired Biology and Marine Science teacher. She loves to travel and since retirement has organized groups of friends for trips to exotic locations. Her goal is to help her fellow travelers open their minds to new cultures, landscapes, foods, ideas and experiences. She and Rich have been married for 44 years, and raised 2 sons. Their son Richie was a U.S. Army Green Beret Team Leader who was killed along with two of his teammates by an IED on September 29, 2008, in Afghanistan. He is survived by his widow and their son who was less than a month old when his father was killed.

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