SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Team Schriever members, walking down the hallway on their way to lunch, may hear the iconic sounds of their favorite video games coming from the Building 300 auditorium. One may find themselves thinking how great it would be to take a break from work and relax with some good games while enjoying your lunch.
The reason for those familiar sounds is the weekly Geek Lunch, the brainchild of Chaplain Capt. Portmann Werner, 50th Space Wing chaplain.
“I always felt like an odd duck in the Air Force and chaplaincy. Not many nerds were to be found. When I found out I was coming to a space base, I realized this was my chance to connect with some of my fellow geeks,” said Werner.
For many Airmen the Geek Lunch has become a weekly staple as an opportunity to relax, network and connect with fellow Airmen. According to Capt. Jack Wilson, 50th Space Wing Orbital & Space Safety chief.
“I've gotten some funny looks from some of the them when they see me in there playing Nintendo 64, but after a few minutes they realize that I'm just there to relax like them and we always have a blast fighting each other in Super Smash Brothers,” said Wilson.
Upon finalizing the timing and location, Werner sought his leadership’s approval. With their blessings, Werner started hosting the Geek Lunch in the chaplain corps resource room on Wednesdays. The room became so packed the location quickly had to change to the auditorium on Tuesdays to ensure consistent space for the gamers.
“I wanted to offer fellow geeks/gamers a chance to meet people of similar interest. Nothing helps a geek with the social pillar of Comprehensive Airmen Fitness like virtually bashing (or getting bashed by) someone right next to you,” Werner said.
Now before you begin wondering how all of this helps the social pillar, Consider the American Psychological Association website, which states more than 70 percent of gamers play with a friend and millions of people worldwide participate in massive virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft and The Division. Many people have formed lifelong friendships on account of open world games like these.
“I know many people can use something to look forward to during the week. We live in a high ops tempo world and many of us have pretty stressful jobs. Having a place to go to take your mind off your job for an hour in a healthy, social way, can mean a lot to Airmen of any rank,” said Werner.
The Geek Lunch is also an opportunity for the base chapel team to connect and interact with the base community.
“I think a lot of people are afraid of us chaplains. Just because they have a different faith background, they get a little freaked out just walking into our office, especially fellow geeks. I wanted geek lunch to
show people that wouldn't normally seek out chaplains to interact with us and find out they don't need to fear us or feel awkward around us,” Werner said.
There is a variety of personnel who attend the Geek Lunch every Tuesday, especially since the number of attendees has swelled as well.
“I love our variety! We have airman first classes, master sergeant’s, lieutenant’s and captain’s coming by. We even have a few civilians, someone brought an awesome Air Combat board game once,” said Werner.
Even commanders have gotten in on the fun and interaction during Geek Lunch, as it is a great time for them to get to know their subordinates and other personnel on-base.
“I won't forget when Lt. Col. Tom Colvin, from the Network Operations Group, was able to carve out some time to talk Star Wars with everyone. Turns out Geeks are everywhere!” Werner said.
The lunch offers a variety of gaming systems. From time to time a one player ATARI is brought out, but according to Capt. Werner, since social interaction is what the intent is, it is not brought out as often.
“A positive aspect to the Geek Lunch is the mentorship I've been able to give some of the younger troops. The Geek Lunch gives these guys an opportunity to ask questions in a chill environment. When it first started and the regulars were getting to know me, they always had questions when they found out that I was prior enlisted,” said Wilson.
For those who like the more traditional table and board games they make their appearance regularly as well. Werner brings several of his own board and card games from home as do many of the attendees.
“We have a pretty dedicated Magic the Gathering group, and a bunch of people just got interested in my Khet game, which I like to call Laser Chess. We have tons of the classics too. Jenga and Statego have been pretty popular. At this point, we offer whatever I have and whatever people bring in,” said Werner.
Set-up starts around 10:30 a.m., but the event officially kicks off at 11 a.m. with clean-up around 1 p.m. According to Werner, leaders can help by letting their subordinates come down for lunch and even join them. It can be a big help to an Airman's morale and a commander's long term output from his teams. For more information, contact Werner at 567-3705.