By Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Schriever Airmen took part in a free, five-hour guided snowmobile tour in Monarch, Colorado, as part of the 50th Force Support Squadron’s Single Airmen Initiative Friday.
Participants began their journey over snow-covered trails in Monarch, stopping for lunch in Salida, Colorado, before journeying back to Monarch. Along the way, they learned safety tips and experienced the thrill of riding an all-terrain vehicle.
“Airmen need to get away from work and dorms and do something fun once in a while,” said Seth Cannello, 50 FSS, Sports and Fitness manager and event organizer. “Colorado is a beautiful state and a wonderful place for all sorts of outdoor activities. There’s always something exciting to try or to learn. Our goal is to increase resiliency and allow Airmen the opportunity to experience an activity they might not be able to afford or try on their own.”
Staff Sgt. David Gutierrez, 50th Space Wing functional area management program manager never snowmobiled before the trip.
“I was very excited to have the opportunity to try out snowmobiling,” Gutierrez said. The trails were difficult enough to make the experience adventurous, but not so much that we felt like we were in danger of any injury. The scenic views were amazing and the machines were easy to operate.”
According to Cannello, experiences like Gutierrez’s make SAI slots fill up fast.
“We had 12 slots available,” Cannello said. “I registered 18 people. I had six people on my waitlist. These are pretty typical numbers. When the announcements are made, the trips usually fill very fast.”
“Fast but safe” was one of the themes of the snowmobile trip and was a big hit with attendees.
“I had heard [snowmobiles] got up to 50 mph so I couldn’t wait to get out on the snow and race up and down the mountain,” Gutierrez said.
Airman 1st Class Zachery Rollins, 50th Space Communications Squadron computer security operations technician, was another first-time snowmobiler and likened the experience to riding a dirt bike.
“I was excited to see how fast we could go on them,” Rollins said. “We were able to go as fast as we wanted, within limits set by the guide, and to me that was the best part.”
With demanding jobs Airmen like Gutierrez and Rollins have, Cannello believes they deserve events like the snowmobile trip.
“In my opinion, the Single Airmen Initiative program is a way to reward Airmen for all the hard work they do and for the sacrifice they make in support of our country,” Cannello said.
While the event got Airmen out in scenic mountains enjoying nature, it also afforded them the opportunity to improve their social pillar of wellness by interacting with other Airmen.
“A lot of Airmen have a gap in their social pillar of wellness since the military lifestyle is one of constant change,” Gutierrez said. “When some Airmen move to a new duty location it sometimes takes time to make friends. By putting on events like this, the SAI is giving Airmen the opportunity to meet new people in and out of their career field that they may have never crossed paths with.”
For Cannello, watching the social dynamic play out is the most rewarding part.
“Every trip pretty much unfolds the same way,” Cannello said. “I pick the Airmen up early in the morning. Most of the participants don’t know each other; it’s early in the morning and there’s not a lot of talking. Then, they participate in the activity and their adrenaline and excitement levels go through the roof. On the return trip home, the van is full of Airmen talking about their shared experience. It’s very rewarding to take people skydiving, snowmobiling, hunting, etc. and I really enjoy watching them bond with each other.”
The SAI’s next event is an eco-friendly electric kart race March 18. Participants will race high performance karts over a quarter-mile F-1 style racetrack. To register, or for more information about upcoming SAI events, contact Cannello at 567-6658.