Winter outing breaks ice, creates bond
December 8, 2010
UIJEONGBU, South Korea - As the Siberian chill from the north pushed its way down the Korean peninsula, 12 Army family members from Pear Blossom Family Outreach Centers throughout Warrior Country flocked to the Uijeongbu Ice Rink - just a short 10-minute walk from Red Cloud Garrison's back gate - for its annual excursion Nov. 30.
"The reason why I organized this is to enjoy time doing something different with family members," said Natalia Levtchenko, PBFOC manager.
"We've had this ice skating tour every winter for the last three years as a seasonal program. Every time we come to the ice rink, most people are satisfied and have fun."
As time passed, timid children new to the ice sought the comforting embrace of a mother's hand to steady them as they moved cautiously and slowly across the rink.
Although they weren't skilled skaters, they became less conscious of their inexperience even as they repeatedly fell and picked themselves up off the ice.
For the Army spouses, the outing was less about skill than it was about enjoying time spent with their children and other Army families. They seemed to delight in skating, laughing like children when some ended up on all four. Some of the spouses seemed to have even more fun than their children.
"This is absolutely not a familiar sport for me and my children," said Nicole Perez, spouse of Capt. Angel Perez from the 304th Signal Battalion at Camp Stanley, "but I'm having fun with my children and so are they, even though their pants already have been soaked. It's really a good time for us to do something different."
They took a break whenever they were tired of skating. Some drank hot chocolate or tea to warm themselves, while others headed to the ice rink snack bar for traditional Korean favorites such as ramyeon - instant noodles in a cup - or tteokbokki - a long cylinder-shaped rice cake in sweet and spicy sauce.
As the participants talked, laughed, ate and drank the bond between the Army families became stronger. Some of them were so enamored with it that they want to make it part of their daily routine.
"I want to come to the ice rink every day," said Maria Escano, 8-year-old daughter of Jeminiano Escano, a civilian employee from Yongsan Garrison, while eating ramyeon. "It's cold, but I like skating. I feel like I get healthy after skating."