CAMP CASEY -- Soldiers who took part in the Area I Commander's Cup competition say the rules changes on what it takes to win the award made for a rich new mix of exhilaration, sheer fun, battle-buddy bonding and unit pride.
Those were the outcomes Warrior Country leaders had been aiming for when last spring they decided to revamp the award so it would no longer be based on sports only but would require too that units participate in a variety of other resilience-building activities.
That broader range of activities saw Soldiers taking part in the First Sergeant Barracks Program, enrollment in college courses, and recreational activities that included hiking, bungee jumping, zip lining, rafting, ATV riding, skiing, bowling, long-distance runs, as well as such long-standing Commander's Cup sports as softball and football, among other events.
"It was very fun to do," said Pvt. Danny Burns, 22, an Abrams tank driver-loader with the 2nd Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment. His company was a Commander's Cup first-place winner in the small-size unit category.
"Everything that we participated in -- not just me but my entire company -- everything we participated in we found fun and invigorating," Burns said.
It also helped Soldiers get to know one another better and thus aided unit cohesion, he said.
"Kind of like a bonding moment. Like, 'Hey, I didn?'t know this about you,'" Burns said.
The urge to win ran high among competing units, Soldiers who vied for the Cup said.
"Everyone, in Six-One, has a desire to win," said Capt. Timothy Cox, commanding officer of the 61st Chemical Company, which placed first in the medium-size unit category.
"They come together on all of the sports teams, on all the MWR volunteer time, you name it, everybody comes together to accomplish the mission," Cox said.
The same bonding and drive to win helped the 2nd Infantry Division's Company C, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, said 1st Sgt. David Reickmann. The company placed first in the large-size unit category.
"It's a big family," said Reickmann. "So for the most part the Soldiers want to be around each other and they want to compete. And not only against themselves but against other units, to show that they're not just another group that's out here, that they're actually here to contend with. And most everything that they did for the Commander's Cup they did after duty hours."
In the end, it added up to the increased resilience the revised Commander's Cup rules were intended to foster, said Burns. Events of the kind his unit participated in can build a healthier, outlook that's in place when things turn tough or stressful, he said.
"The more positive stuff you give someone, more than likely -- anything bad happens -- all you have to do is 'Hey, I've got something that can counter it. I'll still be in a better mood.' You still have that positive outlook. It gives people a better perspective."