2016 is finding us stretching our borders to the north. The community at Deep Creek Lake in Garrette County, Maryland opened its arms wide for us in May to share not only the beauty of the lake but all it's fun activities as well. Every venue and restaurant we visited supported us in some capacity on this trip. We could not be more appreciative by their warm welcome.
The Warrior Bonfire Program kicked off the weekend with some energizing fun at the Wisp Resort! Sledding down the mountain at high rates of speeds on the Mountain Coaster sure was an icebreaker before mastering the Spider Challenge Course high above the ground! All the veterans experienced that familiar sense of brotherhood and support behind them to help make these activities fun and safe. The reminders of the brotherhood which they all miss as a community of support, further strengthens their senses to trust others and not be fearful of the unexpected.
After getting their stomachs back in check from the mountain coaster, the group was welcomed on a large scale at Uno Chicago Grill. Not only did we get a lot of attention on the marquee but we got big cheers from the Baltimore Raven Cheerleaders at a meet and greet during their yearly training retreat! Long stop for a photo op! This group loved and soaked up the attention. That afternoon we dodged the rain by grabbing some ice cream before a full buffet dinner, compliments of Dutch’s Restaurant at Silver Tree followed by a leisure pontoon boat ride back to the quarters.
Saturday found us as guest at the Adventure Sports Center to take on some white water rafting. Team building at it’s finest in groups of four navigating the course. Big fun, very we and very cold!
By design all of these activities are arranged with the primary goal of creating greater connections between all of the participants. These connections promote healing and can sometimes serve as a lifeline in the future. Our trips are not all fun and games, extensive talk therapy is strategically conducted at various times throughout the weekend.
"The brotherhood and fellowship is amazing!" USN PO3 Nik Oekerman
For veterans with PTSD it is incredibly important for the brain to consistently be exposed to healthy activities that produce healthy responses. The more their brains experience joy, happiness, peace, trust, and the lack of fear the faster it truly learns how to manage the struggles these men and women face every day. Learning to process fear or talk about fear, in a safe environment, around those that one trusts, is the purpose of the Bonfire. We give the tools and the network to promote Post Traumatic Growth.
"This trip made me feel that humanity is still alive and that there are still people out there that genuinely care about the vets and the people that contributed to our freedoms." One of the trip participants stated that wishes to remain anonymous.
Thank you to all our sponsors for this trip, especially Waltz Center for Oral Surgery & Implantology owner Dr. Robert Waltz, and WBP Board of Directors Member Michael Ginter for hosting us at your homes on Deep Creek Lake, as well as Uno Chicago Grill, Dutch’s Restaurant at Silver Tree, Wisp Resort, Adventure Sports Center, Garrett County Airport, Brenda's Pizzeria and all the private donors of the area. Without you, we could not provide as many trips as we do. Again, thank you for keeping the Bonfires Burning and bringing us up north!
See more photos from the Deep Creek Lake Bonfire - Click Here!