By 2nd Lt. Idalí Beltré Acevedo | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
CAÑON CITY, Colo. — The Schriever Air Force Base Outdoor Recreation office took eight Schriever Airmen on a guided hike and tour through the granite rock walls of the Royal Gorge Via Ferrata in Cañon City, Colorado, Aug. 24.
Juli Yim, Schriever Outdoor Recreation director, explained the three primary goals of the trip.
“First, to get people outside and unplugged to enjoy the wonderful natural resources we are fortunate enough to have here in Colorado,” she said. “Second, to provide an opportunity for people to meet and build relationships. Lastly, we wanted to provide an opportunity that would challenge all participants whether that was physically, mentally or both.”
The Royal Gorge Via Ferrata attraction opened this summer on the park’s 90th anniversary celebration. According to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park website, Via Ferrata is Italian for “Iron Way.” Via Ferrata is a protected climbing route with steel cables affixed to the granite. Guests secure themselves to the cable using a provided climbing kit to scale the walls.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Elder, National Space Defense Center, said this adventure challenged him and his wife and helped them see Colorado in a new light.
“We had a chance to get outside of the workplace and see more of Colorado; we had never been to Cañon City and we enjoyed it,” he said. “We had never climbed a mountain and we both had a slight fear of heights, doing this helped us overcome that and bounce back from that fear, helping our resilience.”
These outdoor recreation trips not only help Airmen experience challenges, they also create an opportunity for Airmen to meet outside of work and share common interests with others.
“This event gave us a chance to meet new people, who work on base, that we wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise,” Elder said.
For Yim, the sense of accomplishment came from watching the Airmen enjoy the tour and learning techniques to climb the walls of the Royal Gorge Via Ferrata.
“Personally, I thought it was a good and challenging introduction to Via Ferrata style of climbing and could definitely see us doing an event like this again,” she said. “I think my favorite part was just watching the other participants relax and enjoy themselves.”
Yim said this and other outdoor recreation events take care of Airmen by providing morale and resilience-boosting experiences.
“I feel when people have these positive experiences, their attitudes becomes infectious when they go back to their sections,” she said. “I believe those positive experiences and positive attitudes are what provide the catalyst for positive change within any organization.”
Outdoor recreation organizes adventures like this year round, often heavily discounted, to give Schriever Airmen the opportunity to explore Colorado and make friends along the way.
The program’s activities are open to active-duty service members, active reserve and family members with a valid ID. For more information about the Outdoor Recreation program’s upcoming adventures, call 719-567-2015.