The purpose of the camp is to introduce or reacquaint Warriors to various winter sports activities. They include skiing, snowboarding, sit-skiing, ice skating, sled hockey, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, and paragliding. Each activity is adapted to the specific needs and abilities of participating Warriors.
Evening activities include fine dining, live music, bowling, and relaxation in an outdoor heated pool.
“These Warriors may come to Sun Valley for a week, but their experience will affect them for a lifetime,” said Tom Iselin, SVAS Executive Director.
“Joining our program is essentially joining a family that provides all Warriors with the resources needed to achieve their aspirations in work, school, relationships, and all aspects of life,” said Bert Gillette, Higher Ground Program Coordinator.
Spouses and significant others participate with Warriors in all snow sports activities, including private instruction. They have a special “spa day” and other opportunities to spend quality time with other spouses. Such activities facilitate the sharing of experiences and the chance to offer support to one another.
The Higher Ground program hosts eight annual therapeutic sports camps featuring water sports, snow sports, and fly fishing. Each event hosts six Wounded Warriors, their significant others, and a mentor from past programs. There is no cost to the Warrior and significant other. This includes all airfare, lodging, meals, instruction, equipment, and entertainment.
What visually impaired warriors have said about the SVAS experience:
Chris Paiser, Army—“The event showed me I wasn’t broken. It gave me the chance to feel like a soldier again. I can’t wait to go home and show my son I can snowboard with him.”
Ivan Castro, Special Forces—“This is the most therapeutic and fun event I’ve attended since my injury. Adaptive Sports is setting the standard for helping service members heal.”
John Crabtree, Navy—“The format of this event was like no other. I had no idea it would have such a profound effect on my wife and me. I’ll be a better husband and father because of it.”
Magic in Palo Alto
by Millie Saks, U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (Ret)
I am writing a tiny segment of my impressions of the 11 weeks I spent as a visually impaired veteran at the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center. My stay at the WBRC was wonderful! The most important thing about my stay was the instructional staff: teachers, nurses, and kitchen staff. They were loving and kind and, from top to bottom through and through, they were there to be helpful and always cheerful. It was a unique experience.
The students were from everywhere in the U.S. I made friends there that I will always treasure.
One morning, as I left my room to go to the dining room, in front of me in the corridor I saw a man I knew only as George, a man smaller than average in stature. He had been staying in our corridor for a short time. I had been introduced to him. He was totally blind and had been a truck driver. I couldn't tell his age but, when I saw him walking in the halls, I thought he was very old by his shuffling and the fact that he walked with his head down.