Catching Air: Soldiers soar high with ODR's Warrior Adventure Quest program
September 26, 2011
TAENNESBERG, Germany -- Words of encouragement and playful ribbing flowed effortlessly amongst Soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment at a high ropes course, here, Sept. 15.
"If I can do it, you can do it," yelled Pfc. Jordan Cole as Spc. Alex Steverson rested near the top of a 35-foot pole, reaching for more courage to pull himself to the top. The pole was only 10 inches in diameter.
"Don't look down," yelled Soldiers in unison, humorously stressing the distance between Steverson and the ground.
To add insult to injury, the thin pole wobbled back and forth in the cool breeze as Steverson attempted to stand on top of it.
Once he reached the top, jumping down was the only option.
Steverson turned 180 degrees, closed his eyes and jumped, free falling a short distance before a well-strapped bungee cord caught him.
Across the course, Spc. Joseph McGraf's screams could be heard as he released his rip cord, which sent him on a freefall from 40 feet up on a giant swing.
His fellow Soldiers stopped to point and laugh.
These adrenaline pumping adventures tested the limits and abilities of the recently redeployed Soldiers as part of the Warrior Adventure Quest program. Numerous 2CR Soldiers have filtered through the WAQ program over the last three months as part of the Army's holistic approach to reset its Soldiers following a long deployment.
WAQ was introduced to the Grafenwoehr community more than two years ago has had continued success. During a long deployment, an adrenaline rush can become a normal part of a Soldier's everyday life. While many of the adventures offered through the program parallel the intensity Soldiers feel downrange, through WAQ, they are exposed to healthy alternative high-adrenaline activities in a safe, controlled environment.
Additionally, the program provides Soldiers with coping skills that can address unresolved transition issues, build unit cohesion and morale, and contribute to combat readiness.
The Rose Barracks' Outdoor Recreation provides WAQ adventures five days a week and although the elements change slightly day-to-day, the goal is always the same.
"It's about the rush," said Pvt. 2 Ethan Strouse. "I believe in this program. It's a great outlet."
Staff Sgt. Todd Cozort agreed.
"I think a program like this really works," said Cozort. "A lot of the guys are reminded of their time in Afghanistan, the intensity is the same, but it's controlled. It's safe."
Throughout the day, Soldiers challenged themselves by negotiating numerous challenges on the high ropes course, rock climbing and rappelling, and also working together as a team to navigate a 20-foot wall for the team challenge.
"You can see the cohesion, the guys work together and accomplish tasks they may not have otherwise," said Jeff Carson, program manager for WAQ. "Most guys are 'volun-told' to be here, but at the end of the day, they want to be here and they want to come back. You see a real appreciation for the activity and program."
Carson hopes the Soldiers who participate in the program will continue to take advantage of the everyday adventures offered through ODR.
From klettersteig to caving, whitewater rafting, hiking and mountain biking, ODR and the WAQ program provide an outlet for redeploying Soldiers, deploying Soldiers and everyone in between.
"It's not your normal workday," said Carson. "And that's our goal."