SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
The Single Airmen Initiative is one of three Air Force ‘Recharge for Resiliency’ programs that promote outdoor activities designed to increase resiliency and improve quality of life for single Airmen for free.
Seth Cannello, 50th Force Support Squadron sport and fitness manager and Schriever SAI liaison, aims to offer one to two trips per month and seeks four to 10 Airmen per event, depending on the activity.
The SAI, funded by the Air Force Services Agency, covers the registration fees and typically pays for transportation, but will not cover any food or lodging, assuming it's an overnight trip.
Cannello secures funding for the program, contacts guides and vendors, promotes the activities, registers Airmen and ensures all the participants follow the rules and guidelines for each event.
“I believe Colorado is one of the best places to manage this type of initiative,” Cannello said. “There are a ton of outdoor activities to take part in. Schriever participants have recently been taken on a sandboarding trip to the Great Sand Dunes near Alamosa, zip lined at the Broadmoor, and skydived in Penrose.”
This year, Cannello also sponsored a trip to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center in Teller County where Airmen learned about wolves, coyotes and foxes.
“At the end of a one-hour tour, Airmen were able to enter fox and wolf enclosures where they interacted with these interesting creatures,” he said. “The Airmen left the facility with professional photographs and memories that will last a lifetime.”
Airman 1st Class Brooke Peckham, 50th FSS customer service apprentice, recently went on a zip lining trip through SAI. She said one of the benefits of the program is Airmen have the opportunity to participate in activities they wouldn’t have been able to without the program, as a lot of the trips they plan can be pricey for single Airmen.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t have gotten out and zip lined if it wasn’t for the single airmen program,” Peckham said. “These trips help strengthen bonds between Airmen because you get close with people you never thought you would.”
Cannello said most trips start the same; most of the Airmen don't know each other at the start of the event, so things are pretty quiet. However, once they arrive where the activity is hosted, Airmen start to communicate with one another.
He said this is especially true for the skydiving trips, claiming skydiving is such an adrenaline rush that even introverted Airmen want to express their feelings after jumping. He went on to echo Peckham’s thoughts.
“One of the most beneficial aspects of the Single Airmen program is the bonds that are formed between Airmen that participate,” he said. “I can't tell you how many times I've seen Airmen exchange cell phone numbers with each other after a trip. I know for sure there have been numerous friendships that were created from these trips and I have even formed strong bonds with some of the Airmen I've meet during these events.”
One of Cannello’s goals with the program is to find new events that haven't been offered before.
“Next year, I want to offer an ice climbing trip where Airmen are outfitted with all the necessary gear needed to climb,” he said. “They will have access to a professional guide who will instruct Airmen on how to climb safely.”
In order to plan the trips, Cannello must first get approval from the AFSVA. They look over the details and ensure the program meets all the requirements of the SAI.
“Once I have approval, I contact vendors, schedule and pay for the trip,” he said. “Then, I announce the activity and register Airmen. I let Airmen know all the details and send out reminders prior to each trip.”
If an Airman who registered for the trip can no longer attend, they must let Cannello know as soon as possible so he can offer the opportunity to someone else. This year, he’s successfully filled each event, despite numerous last-minute cancellations.
This year’s remaining SAI trips are full, but if Airmen have ideas for next year, he encourages them to email him at email@example.com.
Cannello also encourages Airmen to reach out to Thomas Appleman, 50th FSS recreation specialist, who is hosting Rec-On trips. Rec-On is another AF R4R program, and still has openings for some of the upcoming events. Appleman can be reached at 567-6050.