October 13, 2015

Connecting through faith and campfires

Airman 1st Class Ashley N. Steffen
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley N. Steffen
U.S. service members sit around a campfire playing instruments, roasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate at Mather Camp Ground along the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park Sept. 19. The service members were at the canyon as part of the 2015 Grand Canyon Breakaway Weekend.

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz.  — Military stations around the western United States, came together for the 2015 Grand Canyon Weekend Breakaway camping trip to Grand Canyon National Park Sept. 18-20.

More than 90 people attended the weekend breakaway, including active duty U.S. Airmen and Marines, Air National Guardsman, military spouses and couples, as well as, civilians and retirees. Service members from seven different bases participated in the event, Airmen from Davis-Monthan AFB and Luke AFB, Arizona, Holloman AFB and Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, Nellis AFB and Creech AFB, Nevada, and Marines from Miramar Air Station, California.

Attendees brought guitars and ukuleles to enjoy by the campfire along with s’mores and hot drinks.
“It was a great way to get out and network; I was able to make new friends not only at the base I just moved to, but also with some of the surrounding bases,” said Airman 1st Class Jacob Markulik, 355th Security Forces Squadron response force member. 

The trip was focused on strengthening; physical, mental, social, and spiritual resiliency. During the weekend trip attendees hiked into the Grand Canyon, completing either a three or six mile hike, attended spiritual and faith based services, as well as, socializing with peers.

“The hike was physically demanding, but it builds mental fortitude,” Chaplain (Capt.) Justin Szeker, 355th Fighter Wing staff chaplain. “During the hike I was encouraging others by informing them that the body is not nearly as tired as your mind wants you to believe. To achieve great things, you have to sometimes break through those mental barriers.”

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