From the Founder - Rick Wolf - Lieutenant Colonel USMCR
My assignment as the Officer in Charge of the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Detachment at Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms was the spark that ignited Soul Survivor Outdoor.
Upon arriving at the unit it was evident that there was more going on with the Marines assigned to the unit than the physical and emotional wounds of war. The Marines of the detachment had both emotional and physical wounds from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, medical and psychological care alone was not fully addressing the damage done to their souls. The Marines needed “soul repair.”
Early in 2014 I developed an outdoor wilderness therapy program for the Marines of the Detachment and conducted our first event in Joshua Tree National Park. Events focused on building or re-building a solid life foundation, gave our military service members a chance to relax and let their guard down, unpack the stress of daily life, refresh their spirit, clear their minds, re-build confidence in self and others, and ultimately provided an opportunity to restore their souls. Events included rock climbing, hiking, or mountain biking, a meal shared together around a campfire, and a motivational discussion by a fellow military service member who “had been there and done that.”
The success of the events was significant and prompted Col Willie Buhl USMC, Retired, former USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment Commanding Officer, to comment that this was “one of the best all-around spiritual/physical evolutions he had participated in at the Wounded Warrior Regiment.” Co Buhl went on to further say that “the combination of get away from it all, fireside chat, interesting/relevant/powerful speakers, decent food, prayer breakfast and unique physical challenge of rock climbing made for a superb healing time.”
Soul Survivor Outdoor has taken the initial concept of the events conducted at Joshua Tree National Park and has developed an enduring mission.