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Commentary: Recharge for resiliency with outdoor recreation

Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, kayaks on the Salt River Feb. 8, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz.

Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, kayaks on the Salt River Feb. 8, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. Luke AFB Outdoor Recreation hosts various events, including kayaking, hiking, hang gliding and skydiving. Transportation and equipment are provided by the Outdoor Recreation Center. (Courtesy photo)

Andi Hickman, Outdoor Recreation associate, poses June 16, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

Andi Hickman, Outdoor Recreation associate, poses June 16, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Outdoor Recreation has adjusted normal operating hours and taken precautions for scheduled events to include wearing face coverings to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus 2019. Outdoor Recreation offers various vehicles and equipment for minimal rental fees including mountain bikes, kayaks, boats, boat trailers, tents, fishing poles and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler)

Various vehicles and equipment available for minimal rental fees are displayed at Outdoor Recreation June 16, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

Various vehicles and equipment available for minimal rental fees are displayed at Outdoor Recreation June 16, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Available equipment includes mountain bikes, kayaks, boats, boat trailers, tents, fishing poles and more. Outdoor recreation also provides the Recharge and Resiliency program, which is an opportunity for single Airmen to participate in group events, including kayaking, hiking, hang gliding and skydiving. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler)

Andi Hickman, Outdoor Recreation associate, adjusts mountain bike brakes June 16, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

Andi Hickman, Outdoor Recreation associate, adjusts mountain bike brakes June 16, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Outdoor Recreation has adjusted normal operating hours and taken precautions for scheduled events to include wearing face coverings to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus 2019. Outdoor recreation also provides the Recharge and Resiliency program, which is an opportunity for single Airmen to participate in group events, including kayaking, hiking, hang gliding and skydiving. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --

Outdoor recreation is a resource available to all Airmen at Luke Air Force Base that allows Airmen to participate in organized activities and rent canoes, bikes, motorized boats, trailers, fishing equipment, camping equipment and more.

Organized activities are offered through Outdoor Recreation’s Recharge for Resiliency program. This program consists of various outdoor activities available each month for single (unmarried) Airmen, E-1 to O-6. Some of the past activities include hiking trips, go-karting, hang gliding, NASCAR driving and skydiving.

“The idea is to get you away from the barracks and get your adrenaline pumping,” said Samuel Harvey, Outdoor Recreation complex manager. “That way you can come back refreshed and ready for the next duty day.”

According to Harvey, the R&R program is also a chance for first-term Airmen to meet new people. Airmen from different squadrons sign-up for the events, so it’s a great chance to meet people you likely wouldn’t have met otherwise.

“I was active duty for 22 years and didn't know about Outdoor Rec.,” said Harvey. “When I retired and got a job here, I was shocked and a little upset. I could’ve really used this opportunity the whole time. Fortunately, first-term Airmen come through here during their orientation. I’m glad I get the chance to tell them about the program up front so they can take advantage of these opportunities.”

The cost to sign-up for an R&R event is $30 per person and the Air Force pays the remaining balance for up to $200 per event.

Recently, precautions taken to prevent the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic have affected normal operations says Chad Cole, Outdoor Recreation assistant manager and facility programmer. The guidelines for COVID-19 prevent [our] ability to provide transportation for Airmen and the events are limited to 10 people per group.

“Some of our trips did have to be canceled,” Cole said. “But we are still hosting events. The Airmen can meet us at the destination of the event if they have their own transportation. We’re also open to suggestions, and we can plan out private trips if [Airmen] have family coming into town.”

Every air force base has an Outdoor Recreation center available to their Airmen. With proper precautions and social distancing in mind, they keep the door open to give Airmen the opportunity to meet new people and experience the outdoors.

“It’s important to have Outdoor Rec. for the state of mind,” said Cole. “I know the jobs Airmen do can get tiresome. It’d be nice for them to have a chance to get away for a bit, relax, socialize and explore Arizona. Outdoor Rec. is here to give them those opportunities.”

If you would like to sign-up for an event or get more information, visit https://www.lukeevents.com/rec/