More than 40 Fort Stewart soldiers, couples and Army families had quality time together Saturday, enjoying the Army Community Service’s Resiliency, Enrichment and Communication Orienteering Navigation Challenge at Holbrook Pond Recreation Area.
The RECON Challenge was sponsored by U.S. Patriot Tactical, a chain of military and public safety gear stores. Local general manager Kyle Bradley said his company’s 16 stores are all located near military installations.
Tonya Imus said Saturday’s event was organized and supported by ACS, the Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers.
“The RECON Challenge is a way for singles, couples and families to have fun,” Imus said. “It’s also a way for couples and family members to re-learn how to communicate with each other.”
Imus said the challenge was open to single soldiers in teams who ran the course, couples who at least started out handcuffed together and families whose children were old enough and tall enough to move through the thick, sometimes muddy woods.
The check-in points were about a half-mile apart, with some separated by woods and others by open fields with wet areas.
“If you were appropriately dressed and over the age of 5, you were all right to do this,” said Argie Alvarez, whose husband Command Sgt. Maj. Mariano Alvarez, daughters Tatiana, 15, and Kate, 12, and sons, Ezra, 18 and Andy, 8, pushed themselves for what Mariano called a “walk in the park.” “I saw some families with little children and strollers. It was too hard for them.”
Imus said teams of runners stopped at each point only long enough to check in and maybe get a bottle of water. Couples and families were given tasks or puzzles. She said that at one station, they had to put together a set of skis with duct tape.
At Point 2, Renee McClinton and James Fleming asked questions that illustrated the importance of creating a budget and spending diary. Point 4’s Emory Paxton stressed communications; with kids if it was a family or with a spouse if it was a couple.
“I emphasize the importance of communication,” Paxton said. “If we’ve been together for some time, 10, 15 or 20 years, sometimes we take each other for granted and forget important information about each other.”
Two couples who reported to Paxton’s station were Craig and Seline Pritchard and Kristy Crews and Sgt. William Maldonado. Neither couple was still handcuffed. The Pritchards said they were just reassigned from Fort Drum, N.Y.
“We just got here last month,” Craig Pritchard said. “We’ve never done anything like this before. It’s fun.”
“I was the family readiness group leader at Fort Drum,” Seline Pritchard said. “We were trying to get something like this put together there.”