Thank you LTC Bramlish, Ohio National Guard, for giving me a new tool to use in the effort to keep connected with Papa Bear while he's away - Connect and Join.
Connect And Join™ is a secure online communications andactivities site that connects families around the world who areseparated by military deployment while serving our country, or havefamily members living away from home due to job-relatedresponsibilities.
Essentially, family and friends at home build and maintainthe family password-protected website, creating a daily digitalscrapbook of "life at home" for the deployed loved one. Connect And Join™ is easy to use with templates and fill-in-the-blank forms.
With Connect And Join™ you can:
- write e-letters
- build and keep a photo gallery, including children's hand drawn art
- keep a calendar, write in events and journal special moments
- choosefrom computer and non-computer based arts and crafts, and make and mailprojects for family and group activities (some align with nationalschool standards)
- find books to read for children and teens
- save and archive all content for journals or scrapbooks to preserve family history
- record and share audio journals
- find answers to questions on how to use a computer in the Merlin help files
- be trained to use the site with our E-Learning section
Connect And Join™provides up to 5 access codes per password-protected family site, withone Family Editor overseeing the content. There are no public areas,advertising or pop-ups where the family builds their "Life at Home."
Connect And Join™ is "Life at Home" recreated online for those away!
That is the information from the Connect and Join people, let me tell you what I like about it, we're using it! The whole family is journaling on events that are going on. Papa Bear writes to the boys about specific stuff that's going on that I would probably forget to tell him about, they write back. We can write letters online to each other and upload photos. His folks are on it too, so they can give news. Since they are spending the winter in AZ and we are freezing our tails off here in OH, I try not to read too much of their stuff --- very depressing!
It is VERY easy to use! And, at the end of the training, deployment, long TDY - whatever - the family can print out a record of everything that was done! This is what makes it magical for me - beats the heck out of email that gets deleted and you don't have a record of it. So all those little love notes from home are preserved!
IT'S NOT FREE though, but it IS reasonable (about $60/year for military members - cheaper for shorter stints). Just think you should be aware of that fact! We're having a great time with it and I hope y'all find it a worthwhile tool. As an added benefit, I've caught some schedule conflicts that I didn't know I had by filling out the calendar with new dates of things to journal about! Enjoy!