ROLLING DOWN THE RIVER: Rafting for resilience in Korea

ROLLING DOWN THE RIVER: Rafting for resilience in Korea

by Sgt. Raquel Villalona
2nd Infantry Division

CHERWON, Republic of Korea - Equipped with a helmet, life vest and paddle, first-time rafters were filled with both excitement and anxiety as they approached their yellow rafts. The Warriors each grabbed a handle and guided their raft down a hill to the foot of the bank as they prepared to embark the rapids together.

The 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division Unit Ministry Team hosted a Hantan River whitewater rafting trip to provide members of the Warrior division spiritual resilience training and focus on teamwork Sept. 7.

The day started with a group discussion, which included the importance of stress management and comprehensive resiliency.

"Living with stress and knowing how to handle pressure is necessary for survival," said Chaplain (Capt.) Steven K. Love, Edwardsville, Illinois native, and Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion spiritual leader. "It is related to a person's ability to take control of their own destiny from the circumstances that surround them."

Love ties the idea of river rafting to overcoming obstacles in life.

"Whitewater rafting requires the entire team to be fully engaged to get through the challenges, and that relates to life," said Love. "Like the river, Soldiers hit some tough spots and it can be fearful, but you learn to get through it with the support of others."

After the insightful discussions, a morale-boosting Korean barbeque lunch, and a nerve-wrecking safety brief, enthusiastic Warriors descended onto the Hantan River.

"This is my first duty station and first time whitewater rafting," said Pvt. Haley N. Deline, Grand Blanc, Michigan native and wheeled vehicle mechanic for Headquarters Support Company. "It took teamwork and coordination to prevent the raft from flipping over, but we handled the situations well and had a ton of fun."

Warriors paddled in sync, creating new bonds and gaining both courage and insight while navigating their way through the intense rapids.

"Rafting made it easier to connect with other Soldiers from the division," said Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army Pfc. Kim, Hyun Rae, native of Sejong City and Headquarters Support Company supply specialist. "I translated in Korean and English for the tour guide, which forced me to interact with Soldiers I didn't know, and in the end, I made new friends."

Maj. Jeffrey P. Nelson, native of Juliet, Illinois and deputy plans officer, 2ID/RUCD, agreed that communication was key.

"We had to communicate effectively and be aware of what was going on around us and maneuver the raft together," said Nelson. "We also had to take on different team roles, which is similar to our experience as Soldiers in leadership positions."

Participants gained newfound teamwork and resiliency skills, as they took in the majestic scenery and successfully concluded their voyage down the river.

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