By: Ellis Boury III
The Parsons Advocate
Warfighter Sports of West Virginia held its second annual summer camp event for wounded warriors in West Virginia, with local veterans and their families invited to learn and participate in a range of outdoor activities. The event was hosted at Canaan Valley Resort, and held on the last weekend of July, with nineteen Afghanistan and Iraq-era veterans and their families -a total of nearly seventy people- joining in for fun and adventure.
Participating veterans and their families arrived in Canaan Valley on Thursday, July 25 for the event, with an opening ceremony held on the evening of Friday the 26th. The camp lasted through Sunday, with various outdoor sporting activities available for participants throughout each day.
The events were held by Challenged Athletes of West Virginia, a non-profit organization and chapter of Disabled Sports USA. This is the second year that the program has held summer athletic activities in Tucker County. David Begg, who organized the event in Canaan, said that this area was chosen because it offers such a wide variety of outdoor opportunities. In every direction, one can choose to take part in all sorts of activities in the beautiful mountainous surroundings, including hiking, biking, fishing, boating, and camping, among others. As Mr. Begg put it, Tucker County is truly a special place for anyone who appreciates getting out in nature.
Events held at the camp are free to the soldiers and their families, with event planners covering everything from equipment to lodging and meals in order that those involved can enjoy and learn from the experience without having to pay out of pocket expenses.
Through camps like this one, the program seeks to provide opportunities for wounded veterans to learn new activities while spending time with fellow soldiers and family members. There is an emphasis on building confidence, participation with family, fitness, recreation, and using skills learned at the camps in the outside personal lives of those who take part. This is one of the primary goals of event organizers, that soldiers and their families who do participate will be brought closer together and will learn things that they can actually take with them and use after the camp is over.
Among this year’s offered activities were events such as golfing, fishing, canoeing, caving, hiking, aquatic fitness activities, and even Irish road bowling. Special activities were also planned for the enjoyment of the children who were attending with their families. Equipment is provided at no cost to camp-goers who may need special accommodations to join in the fun.
Many local businesses helped to provide support for the event, through offering services, equipment, and food to the soldiers and their families. Additionally, the event is sponsored by numerous groups that support the Challenged Athletes and Wounded Warriors programs. Some of the primary sponsors for this year’s camp were Disabled Sports USA, the United States Olympic Committee and Paralympic Sport Club, the Tucker County Community Foundation, Blackwater Outdoor Adventures, the Potomac Highland Wounded Warriors Outreach, St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Parsons, and the Senior Center in Parsons. Sirianni’s Pizza Cafe in Davis also pitched in by supplying food for a pizza party at the grand finale of the weekend’s activities.
The Challenged Athletes of West Virginia and all the families and staff said the people of Tucker County were so supportive and welcoming, and help make this event possible. Overall, the Warfighter Sports Summer Camp at Canaan this year provided entertainment, enjoyment and new experiences for all those who chose to come and experience the wild and wonderful outdoors of Tucker County.