by Logan Knox, USMC Veteran
This past weekend, I was invited to join the Raider Project during their West Coast climbing retreat at Joshua Tree California. I was one of over a dozen military veterans from multiple branches and all across the country to spend the next few days camping, rock climbing, participating in guided meditation and yoga, as well as bonding via camp fire. To be honest, after hearing the military resume of the group, it was a bit intimidating. That quickly changed. It didn’t matter how “high speed” you were on the mountains. You had to put your safety in the hands of a stranger and then let him put their safety in yours. You had to help and trust each other in order to successfully climb past the obstacles in front you and reach the top. The guided meditation and yoga seemed strange at first, however proved to be very liberating and a great way to clear your head of mental fog. At the end of the day, everyone felt tired but sat around the camp fire with smiles from ear to ear.
The theme of the retreat was carefully orchestrated to teach a valuable lesson about how to successfully transition from the military to your new and very different civilian life. When life throws problems your way, it helps to know how to approach with a clear head and to help out a buddy when they get stuck. You realize that your mind and body are capable of much more than you presumed and you are only reaching a fraction of your potential.
This was proven by a participant who was riddled with physical issues stemming from his military service made it up multiple difficult climbing routes all the way to the top. He approached his obstacle with an open mind and the willingness to try something he would have never thought possible. Since all of the other participants share similar experiences, you develop a tight bond by swapping stories and having some laughs after a day of climbing. You get the feeling that even though your time in the military may have past, the brotherhood in which you share still exists. They are here for me and I am here for them, no matter what.
I left the park Monday, extremely grateful to the Raider Project, Gallant Few and the incredibly generous sponsors who put together a top notch weekend. I was blown away and humbled by how warm and inviting the group had been in addition to the personal growth we all experienced. In a world full of drama and negativity, I am glad people like this exist and events like this weekend are around.
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