GARMISCH, Germany -- The sun was cresting perfectly against a rugged mountain back drop, while a breeze had a chill coming off a snow covered run. Soldiers assigned to Alpha Company, 1-4 Infantry Battalion unpacked their snow gear and tightened their boots ready for the adventure ahead.
Their new adventure was part of the Hohenfels Outdoor Recreational Center Warrior Adventure Quest event. Leading the group with his staff was Joshua Moore, the Hohenfels ODR director and military veteran.
"I was active duty for ten years when I decided to retire and I gravitated towards outdoor rec because of my interest in everything outdoors," said Moore. "I remember when the WAQ program was developed around 2008 and I was able to help to train over 6,000 soldiers as part of the WAQ program."
Moore explained that WAQ is a Department of the Army funded program for active duty Soldiers and their leaders. The units get the opportunity to bond, relieve stress and build camaraderie within the ranks. He added that Soldiers don't have to be an expert in the sports activity to take part in the program.
"Our trips are geared towards novice participants, but all soldiers are welcome to come and join to learn and further develop their skills," said Moore.
Tuesday's trip was a chance for the Soldiers to learn many techniques and tools to help them tackle the challenge of skiing and snowboarding in the alps by various instructors.
"WAQ allows me to provide soldiers the knowledge of the different activities as well as help them learn new skills," said Royce Ueoka, a Hohenfels ODR trainer and also military veteran.
Royce, who has been with the Hohenfels ODR for seven years, believes that WAQ is one of the best programs available to the Soldiers.
"Because of the deployment cycle that we were on when I was a soldier the WAQ program afforded us the opportunity to build camaraderie within our ranks, learn and build new skills and through this program I gained a positive outlet and career," Ueoka said.
Moore and Ueoka added that the trip was successful because of the help from the Edelweiss Lodge's staff. The Lodge provided extra instructors to coach and support the trip as well as access to the lodge to host an after-action assessment and a taco bar for the Soldiers to enjoy. Leigh Plowman the leisure activities director expressed that the Hohenfels ODR and the lodge has one of the best working relationships because of the WAQ program.
"We have been working really closely with the Hohenfels ODR they have brought us over 15 groups of soldiers last season," said Plowman. The Edelweiss ski school is very happy to be able to contribute to the WAQ program as well as the Hohenfels community and it is important for the soldiers, so we contribute any way we can.
With the winter season just kicking off, ODR will continue making sure that the WAQ program continues to offer Soldiers and units the opportunity to build that peer to leader engagement. He encourages more units to contact the ODR for opportunities to go out and seize the adventure.