Midwest Outdoor Adult Family Retreat

add to outlook calendar add to gmail calendar November 29 - December 3, 2023
Carbondale, Illinois
Applications for this event will open soon.

Health Guidelines: TAPS will make every effort to ensure safe and healthy gatherings. We will continue to monitor COVID variants and may require testing onsite and/or other protocols based on local regulations and CDC guidance. At this time, we do not require proof of full vaccination and masks are optional. Should we have to make any changes you will be notified right away.

All adult survivors, 18 and older, grieving the loss of a loved one who served in the U.S. Armed Forces are warmly invited to join the Midwest Outdoor Family Retreat. This retreat will focus on family dynamics and communication, so we highly encourage families to register for this opportunity together! This therapeutic outdoor recreational event requires no prior experience and will be led by both TAPS facilitators and professional outdoor educators.








In partnership with the National Park Trust and Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center, TAPS has prepared for you a healing journey for the mind, body, and soul. Join with fellow survivors as we reconnect with the camp experience immersed in the Shawnee National Forest where we will explore a variety of recreational activities like canoeing alongside cypress trees, climbing on ropes courses and rock faces and gathering around nightly campfires and sharing stories. We will form unique bonds stemming from our shared experiences of loss and grief as we connect with the land and waters in one of our nation’s hidden gems and national forests.

Qualified, volunteer guides at Trout Unlimited will provide their expertise in fly fishing education and support our physical safety in a variety of outdoor spaces. For more information, visit the National Park Trust, Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center, or the Shawnee National Forest.



Day 1:  On this travel day, everyone should arrive at Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center 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 into our cabins, meet fellow survivors, enjoy dinner together, and relax.

Day 2 - 4: We’ll start each day with group breakfast and get an overview of what to expect for the day. We will focus both on peer groups and the family unit, giving each participant the opportunity to connect with those grieving a similar loss and then leveraging the understanding of our peers to better understand ourselves and our relatives, as we spend time with our families. We’ll wrap up each night with a group dinner in the evening. Each day will include activities like ropes and teams courses, paddling on Little Grassy Lake, hiking and exploring the Shawnee National Forest and more!

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



This retreat is rated as a medium to high-intensity adventure. We'll be active and everyone will have an opportunity to challenge themselves. Activities will involve medium to high physical exertion. Much of our time will be spent outdoors enjoying the beauty and healing powers of nature.



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 Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center is provided for all attendees from Wednesday through Sunday. The accommodations are in cabins with heating and cooling.

Participants will cover the cost of transportation to and from Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center as well as lodging outside of the dates which TAPS provides. The closest airport is the Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois (MWA) or St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL). Complimentary shuttle transportation to and from the airport may be available on a case by case basis.

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 soon (look for the blue button at the top of this page). 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 adultprograms@taps.org or call 800-959-TAPS (8277).


Retreat Facilitator

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.