We had a very good 4 day Steamboat camp expedition managed by Steamboat Adaptive Recreation Sports.
Day 1 was sign-in and deluxe accommodations at local lodges and condos.
Day 2 started with water skiing all day on Bald Eagle Lake including two wheelchair bound Warriors and amputees. Midday was a BBQ lunch, more water skiing, and then dinner at Carl’s, an excellent local restaurant.
Then beginning on Day 3 all Warriors rode the 1200 foot long zipline at Tim and Janet Borden’s. A bit of pucker factor there. Then on north 50 miles to Hahn’s Peak Lake campground for kayaking, rafting, fly fishing with excellent instructors, and campfire.
Then on Day 4 a hike up the Steamboat Ski Area to the Gondola Terminal.
The Steamboat Pilot newspaper had a number of very nice articles with pictures on the outing.
I have been thinking on the sour unwelcome the Vietnam soldiers received from us upon their return from war, and how it has negatively affected the rest of their lives. I regret that we were not doing river trips for the returning wounded vets back then. I am sure it would have made a difference. Hopefully we are learning to answer our call to duty to bring these wounded combat soldiers the rest of the way back home. We are doing what we can with these Vietnam era vets now, and have had some interesting wounded soldiers: a sniper, a skycrane pilot and his son, a “tunnel mole, tunnel rat” who crawled into ARVN and Viet Cong tunnels with a pistol and a flashlight.
I have also been reflecting on our effort which seems to be doing great things, even wonders sometimes, thanks to your support. Including the two raft trips, the summer camp near Steamboat, and the winter Steamboat Ski camp, we take about 90 Wounded Warriors on these outdoor activities each year. This is great. But 90 is a small number compared with the 6000 vets that die each year by their own hand out of hopelessness. So to begin with, I want to increase the number of raft trips. To that end, I have spoken with Bob Jones, the President of Tag-a-Long, about enlisting more river outfitters into this Cataract Canyon/Canyonlands National Park whitewater effort. He has suggested a few other outfitters. I have contacted two other large outfitters in Moab and have gotten a positive initial response. This is in the Genesis, but we have all winter to put this together.And all winter to figure out how to fund this expansion.
We have set the two Tag trips already: the May 30 launch will be mostly Wyoming VA Wounded Warriors, and June 6 will be mostly Salt Lake/Utah Wounded Warriors. The May 6 OARS participants are yet TBD.
Greetings,We had two successful Wounded Warrior 4 day Canyonlands/Colorado River whitewater trips this month. The first was mostly WWs out of the Salt Lake and Cheyenne VA Hospitals, with a few WWs from the Denver area. There were 26 total on the first trip, plus 6 on my SAG boat.The second trip was a new concept, solely Special Operations WWs. Logistically it was difficult flying the WWs in from all over the country to Moab in one day, and because this was a first, the number of sign-ups was low. I expect a much larger enrollment next year after word gets out through Special Operations Command. Additionally, in part because of the logistics and in part because of the state of injury recovery, we had 3 cancellations at the last minute. Three journalism graduate students from U. North Carolina Chapel Hill accompanied this group to film a documentary on the experiences of the WWs and the gains that are realized from being among other WWs on this outdoor adventure. So TAG boated 12, and I had 6 on the SAG boat.
Among the participants were a current sniper team of two that suffered injuries from a car bomb, a Blackhawk pilot whose helicopter got hit by an RPG, a Viet Nam “tunnel rat” that crawled into ARVN and Viet Cong tunnels with a flashlight and .45 in hand, a Viet Nam sniper, and a Viet Nam Sikorski Skycrane pilot and his son. Interesting campfire stories.
We were in the local paper, the Moab Times-Independent, on the front page (above the fold). Here is a link to the article.
I am attaching some comments written on the evening of the last camp, plus some comments in emails that have come in in the past two days. I am also attaching a few photos from the trip. There are more on our FB page. And we will again produce a photo album of the trips.
STARS (Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports, a great outfit) is furnishing a 5 day camp planned for late August north of Steamboat with kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, rafting, other outdoor activities and the 3 day ski camp at Steamboat in January. I am still looking for a springtime activity to better fill in the calendar and keep up the momentum of healing.
Skiing is something I have been wanting for the WWs, a physical challenge that is difficult, requires them to apply their military discipline, they might have to go at it several times, but something they can finally achieve. I feel that, more than the raft trip, this would boost self-esteem and confidence, help them to downplay and disregard their disabilities. And it would introduce them to a great outdoor sport that they could enjoy in the future at their convenience with their buddies and family, not have to wait until summer when the river is up for that once-a-year whitewater trip.
Julie Taulman of STARS (Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports) has now offered a ski camp for Wounded Warriors from VA Hospitals and elsewhere, to include lift tickets, ski gear, accommodations at the ski area, some dinners. Julie will accommodate perhaps 25 Wounded Warriors to be in a 3 day STARS ski camp January 25-28. STARS can accommodate almost any level of disability. Billy Kidd will ski with us. I want to get triple amputee Mark Litynski out from Walter Reed; he is the inspiration that spawned the Warriors On Cataract effort, was on the first raft trip last summer.
I’m attaching the STARS flier announcing this adventure. I put this out to the VA Hospital therapists 2 days ago, already have 11 WWs that want to sign up.
I have been talking with Billy about having the ski areas comp lift tickets and rental gear to WWs and their families on into the future. Kidd knows many of the higher-ups in the area ownerships. He says they don’t often do such things, but we’ll see.
Our whitewater trips for next summer are on the calendar for launches on June 7 and June 14. Let’s hope for a big water year. These combat soldiers are adrenaline junkies, like the big rapids.
Fifteen+ hours of video were shot on the June 18 Wounded Warriors trip. This was condensed down to an 8 minute segment that is to be shown in This American Land on Public Broadcast Television (PBS) in Episode 9 (209), probably in early November. Best regards,
The Wounded Warriors segment starts roughly in the middle of the program; just move the slider to 11:11.
In a previous newsletter I stated that I wanted to line up criminal defense attorneys who have high stature with the prosecutors and judges to represent Wounded Warriors charged with felonies. The hope would be that the prosecutors and judges would listen more closely to highly regarded attorneys and be willing to consider implementing positive handling of the Wounded Warriors in the form of diversion, treatment, deferrals, and like actions rather than an additional disability in the form of a felony conviction.
Here are the criminal defense lawyers to date that are offering to represent Wounded Warriors charged with felonies (with the caveat that their case load or other factors may preclude representation). We will post these on our web site.
We had three disabled Royal British Marines on the July 2 launch; Lyndon Chatting-Walters, Liam Thompson, and Gareth Crabbe. They are part of an acting troupe of wounded Royal Marines that has received very high acclaim in the UK and elsewhere. The powerful play The Two Worlds of Charlie F is about their combat experiences and their difficulties in coming home. I’ve viewed it three times. The play can be seen on the BBC site:
I am attaching a flier on the play, and a picture of Liam when he was wounded, and a picture of what was left of Lyndon’s vehicle after encountering an IED. Only Lyndon survived, broke his back in 4 places.
Lyndon says that the Cataract trip was the best trip he has ever been on.
I agree, these WW trips are some of the best of the 60+ Cataract trips I’ve been on.