Super Camper: Veteran's Day

Each November, we honor those who have served in our armed forces. As the daughter of Army and National Guard pilots, and as a sister to a Marine, Veteran’s Day has always been a day of gratitude for the sacrifices members of our military make daily.

There have been plenty of Thanksgivings spent apart, calls to unknown locations, and weeks without word from my brother, and I speak only from my own experience as a sister and daughter of service members. The sacrifice and commitments made by those in the armed forces goes beyond the comprehension of many civilians, including myself.

This Veteran’s Day, we’re grateful to honor Sam, an airman currently serving in Germany, as our November Super Camper. I had the opportunity to talk with Sam recently over Skype. As we connected over our experiences living abroad and I learned about his life before joining the Air Force, I quickly recognized the same humility in him that I’ve witnessed in my own family and friends who serve.

Read on to see more reasons why Sam (pictured left) is this month’s Super Camper.

Sam grew up in Connecticut and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for six years while completing his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Salve Regina University. After college he was hired by a federal agency to work in counterterrorism.

My first question for him: why did you join the Air Force?

I got hired by a federal agency, and was a special agent for five years working out of New York City. I did counterterrorism work out of the city and mostly overseas. I needed a change, and a boss of mine and a mentor from Newport both told me about experiences and jobs within the Air Force. It took me a couple of years to get a contract because of my age, but I made the move to the Air Force in April 2015.

Why the change?

I wanted to move to a like-minded community that was driven, and go toward a job that made a difference. I didn’t want to just sit down at a computer. My job in New York City was based on defending the country in a certain aspect, and I wanted to do the same, but in a different way.

How do you view your service in the Air Force and beyond?

It’s who I am. I love being part of a community. I love that I’m not only part of the military community, but giving back and helping others. I volunteer three nights a week and coach at a gym on base. I enjoy when I see other people succeed and push themselves. That’s really what my job is based around.
We talk to airplanes and we have to be in shape. We can’t afford to make mistakes on the battlefield because it’s going to cost people’s lives. The end goal is to do everything and do it right… It’s just a passion of mine to help people.

 

How’s it been adjusting to live overseas?

I’m stationed in eastern Germany in Bavaria, and I live in Hamburg. I just moved here a week ago. I’ve been over here in Germany since January, but I wanted to live in a city one more time. Hamburg is the closest I’m going to get to a city.

Sam chuckles. Hamburg’s not nearly as big as New York City.

Living over here, in terms of the camping and hiking and outdoors, it’s endless. You can drive a couple of hours in any direction, you can drive 20 or 30 minutes in any direction, you can find a castle from the 1300s.

I have a very good friend, we’ve been through almost all of our Air Force career together, and we do a lot of weekend trips... We pick a new place every weekend and explore, whether it’s camping outside or just finding a hostel and hiking. We just try to take advantage of being over here.

I ask Sam what it’s meant to stay connected to the outdoors.

The exploration is what gets me, and the challenge. Some of these places over here you wanna go and visit them and you get there and you’re like “Holy cow, I have to walk up this insanely big hill or mountain."
It’s been a way for me to get away and check out of the world. Being in the military, you sort of have to find ways to step back and check out. Everyone’s a human being, too, we’re not just all military all the time. [Being outside] allows me to check out and be myself again, too.

 

When you’re outside what do you value in your gear?

How light and compact everything is. Whether work or personal, I’m not trying to carry a huge backpack. To be able to roll a hammock and straps into a stuff sack and be able to fit that into one pocket of my bag, it’s priceless.

When I go out on a Saturday, all I have in my bag is my hammock, maybe some snacks, water… I keep it simple. I just wanna step away and I want it to be simple. I don’t want to have to set up a bunch of gear.

Another thing that’s important is just being able to stay warm. Sometimes I’m in spots where I’m sleeping in a not-comfortable place and I might not be able to have the best set-up.


I shift gears a little bit, and ask what Veteran’s Day means to him as an active duty airman.

If someone’s going to take the time to serve, it’s hard to just put it in a day. For people reading this, if you know a veteran, that selfless service, no matter what they do in any branch, no matter where they’re stationed, it’s a whole different world, and they do it most of the time without thought.

Sometimes I feel like the military gets a bad rap… Just know that anybody who serves is doing it for you and for the country.
With Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, gratitude’s on my mind. How do you practice gratitude in your own life?
We’re very lucky to live the lives we live. People have no clue the way other people live around the world. Just having a steady job and security and the opportunities that I’m just given through being an American in the military, I think about that almost every day.
I try to stay humble about the advantages I have and use that to be thankful and work harder.
Thanksgiving plans this year?

My cousin lives in Prague, so I’m going to go to Prague and spend it with my cousin, his fiancee, and a couple other Czech and American friends that I have there.

Luckily enough, Prague’s only a short train ride away.

Written by Sarah Fischer, Customer Experience Manager

 

Have someone you’d like to nominate for our December Super Camper feature? Submit their name and story here.

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