CREDO enhances lives through learning retreats

29 Aug 2007 | Ms. Heather Owens

CREDO enhances lives through learning retreats

By , Carolina Living editor

The word credo comes from Latin and means “I believe.” For those in the Navy and Marine Corps community, CREDO stands for “Chaplain’s Religious Education Development Operation.”

Though, for many it might also mean that they believe in themselves enough to make positive changes in their lives, for the CREDO program encompasses a variety of retreats to enhance the lives of Marines, sailors, Coast Guard personnel, members of the Department of Defense, military retirees and their families.

Established in the early 1970s to assist Marines and sailors returning from Vietnam to reintegrate, CREDO now offers retreats and seminars to enrich marriages, empower singles, provide reflection and personal growth, bring dads and children closer and help teens increase confidence.

Chaplain Harold “Cas” Caserta, a Navy commander, is the new CREDO director. He is assisted by Chaplain Ted Crandall and reservist Chaplain Lee Becknell.

Caserta explained the cornerstone retreat in the CREDO repertoire is the personal growth retreat. “The personal growth retreat has the potential to change the lives of those that attend in a positive way in that they will never be the same,” said Caserta.

The PGR, as it is known, allows individuals an opportunity to reflect and review their lives and explore life issues which may be preventing them from living full and happy lives. Caserta said this retreat helps people work through issues in life that may be holding them back in a loving, caring environment in order to become a happier, more complete individual.

The great thing about the retreat is that it will provide personal growth and enrichment to both the 30-year careerist who is about to retire as well as a young private first class who has only been in military service for eight months, said Caserta.

“I actually went through a personal growth retreat in 1994 and it changed my life. My hope for other people is that a CREDO retreat will change their lives in a positive way as well.”

CREDO also offers two marriage enrichment retreats that help couples “better understand the love of their life.” The first marriage retreat allows individuals the opportunity to explore their strengths and weaknesses and build on their strengths to produce a happier marriage. It is CREDO’s most popular retreat.

The second marriage enrichment retreat picks up where the first one left off. The purpose of this retreat is to help couples learn to better relate with one another. It also helps identify the different “love languages” that each individual in a couple might have and then helps them communicate in a way which they can best be understood by their partner.

Popular among youth, CREDO offers separate teen retreats for middle schoolers and high school students. Caserta said these retreats help teenagers develop and enhance self image, improve communication skills and develop avenues of trust. The weekend includes the opportunity for teenagers to challenge themselves on a ropes course. The middle school students have the opportunity to test themselves on the low ropes course and the high schoolers develop self-confidence on the high ropes course which is 40 feet off the ground.

“It teaches them to trust and really develop a sense of confidence,” said Caserta about the retreats.

The Dads, Lads and Gals retreat allows fathers the opportunity to get away with their offspring to enjoy a weekend of quality time. Dads and kids get to spend time together hiking, fishing, swimming, canoeing, paddle boating and enjoying evening campfires. Attendees are afforded the opportunity to select from a variety of fun lodging options including cabins, tree houses or their own tent or trailer.

The retreats are funded by CREDO and the only expense attendees incur during the weekend might be gas usage to and from the retreat site. Meals and lodging are picked up by CREDO and its parent organization Marine Corps Community Services.

CREDO offers informative seminars as well. These events usually take place at CREDO’s spacious offices on 1401 West Road, or building 2461 on Tarawa Terrace. A singles seminar helps singles learn how to date smarter. The morning is spent learning about the pattern of human behavior that people fit into. The afternoon offers singles the opportunity to learn about the five bonding dynamics associated with the “Relationship Attachment Model,” and five predictors for determining whether one could happily live a lifetime with their dating partner.

The CREDO chaplains have plans to offer even more retreat and seminar opportunities in the near future, including a possible “care for the caregivers” retreat to assist chaplains and religious program specialists with their care-giving responsibilities and the development of warrior transition and integration programs.

Caserta said being a CREDO chaplain is the best job in the world because it allows him to produce wonderful ministry with people and be as creative as he possibly can be and “having the time to do with individuals and couples things that you wish as a battalion chaplain that you could do.”

For more information on CREDO and to learn more about upcoming events, call 450-1668/1673 or visit the Web site at