U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir Headquarters Battalion trained and improved team cohesion during its first "Eagle History Hunt" at Fort Belvoir, May 17.
A dozen teams competed for prizes while searching for 19 waypoints around the installation. Teams ran or walked six to eight miles while learning about Belvoir's rich history.
"This purely was a mind and body exercise because the Soldiers and civilians learned something and physically went out and did something together," said Lt. Col. Brian Zarchin, Headquarters Battalion commander. "I want other units to know they have a finished product they can use. It's an easy team building, historical, fun event."
Teams were on the course for up to two hours seeking and reaching historical points like the Thermo-Con house and seeing the view that historical figures like George Washington, George Mason and William Fairfax saw over 200 years ago.
That kind of education is invaluable, according to Zarchin, because it teaches people that Fort Belvoir was and is more than just an engineer training center.
"These are the views that George Washington, George Mason and William Fairfax saw and inspired Fairfax to name the area Belvoir," said Zarchin. "People take for granted that it's an engineer training center from 1917, but no, it's more than that. This place goes back all the way to the Revolutionary War."
The education and the team-building aspects of the hunt were fun for the Soldiers and civilians of Headquarters Battalion, said Capt. Daniel Tucker, Headquarters and Headquarters Company Special Activities commander.
Tucker enjoyed learning about the installation and having a chance to get to know some of his unit members better.
"I didn't know when Belvoir went from Camp Humphrey's to Fort Belvoir," said Tucker. "Another cool fact is members of the Fairfax family came to Fort Belvoir in the 1970s and visited. That was the first time they had been back since the Revolutionary War."
Tucker, along with 1st Sgt. Shana Tinsley, Headquarters Battalion first sergeant, and Billy Cook, Headquarters Battalion Operations Officer, completed the fact-finding portion of the event together. Tucker said he enjoyed introducing Tinsley to Fort Belvoir and learning more about Cook.
"It was a good opportunity for 1st Sgt Tinsley to learn about the installation because she just got here," said Tucker. "I've known Billy for an entire year and I learned things about him I didn't know before."
Getting Soldiers out of the workplace and having them work together and get to know one another is good for them, according to Tucker because it forces them to talk to one another face to face instead of through emails.
"When you put young Soldiers together that normally wouldn't talk to each other, you learn so much about one another and that's the big benefit," said Tucker. "The better you know somebody, the better you know when something's wrong."
Knowing a co-worker's normal mood can help a Soldier realize that something might be wrong and encourage them to ask their fellow Soldier if they want to talk about what might be bothering them, said Tucker.
"You can't be an effective leader or coworker if you don't know who you work with," said Tucker. "You never know how much that might help a person until you've done it."
Learning the history of the installation increases pride, according to Zarchin who wants the Soldiers in Headquarters Battalion and the entire installation to appreciate where they work and spread that pride to other people.
"We are not in the 82nd Airborne or the 101st, so the pride we pull is not from the campaigns and battles we've been in; it's from the history of the installation," said Zarchin. "They can tell people, 'Do you know George Washington stood and looked over the Potomac here?' I've stood up there and know what the view looks like."
Along with historical information and improved team morale, Zarchin hopes the battalion's Soldiers took three additional points away from the history hunt.
"Poise, pride and team," said Zarchin. "Take pride in what you do, be poised and do everything to the best of your ability, and do it for the team. It's all about doing it for the team and not just yourself."