Single Marines Enjoy Nature, Camaraderie at Zion National Park
SPRINGDALE, Utah --
Surrounded by mountains, Zion National Park here presents a profound example of Mother Nature’s breathtaking beauty.
And, a group of Marines that traveled to the park from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, as part of the Single Marine Program appreciated the chance to get away from it all.
The program’s goal is to enhance the quality of life for single Marines by offering a variety of different extracurricular activities to keep them physically, mentally and socially active.
“For $40, we received transportation, tents, beds, food, water and Gatorade,” explained Marine Corps Sgt. Jennifer Mendez, intelligence specialist, 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force-Information Group. “It was also nice that we could choose how to spend our time. We were not restricted to a schedule of events at specific times of the day.”
The trip to Zion National Park is one of many trips hosted by the program. During their trip to the park, Marines had the opportunity to hike trails, relax around a bonfire, throw a flying disc or simply mingle with other single Marines.
“Everyone who chose to take this opportunity had at least two things in common -- being interested in the outdoors and being in the military,” Mendez said. “Whether or not you were a lance corporal, a sergeant, in the Navy or the Marine Corps -- it didn’t matter. We all could relate on at least a small aspect of both of them.”
While attending trips, service members are able to get outside, challenge their physical fitness in unique ways, and bond with other service members who are interested in similar activities.
The program offers a wide variety of excursions, including unique volunteer opportunities, tickets to various sporting events, as well as weekend getaways to places in, around and outside of California.
“SMP is looking to get Marines out of the barracks, out from in front of the TV, and give them opportunities that they wouldn’t normally have,” said Jessica Swinson, 22 and 24 Area SMP Recreational Centers manager.
Swinson added, “The goal for hiking at Zion National Park was to give Marines the opportunity to hang out with individuals that had common interests and to build friendships.”