by Tech. Sgt. Jared Marquis
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
8/11/2015 - THULE AIR BASE, Greenland -- So,
what is there to do at an isolated base in the Arctic Circle with
limited summer and darkness for months on end? Well, with the help of
base support services, a lot, and year-round too.
For the Airmen of the 821st Air Base Group at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Thule Trippin is how they occupy their downtime.
Thule Trippin: /verb/ to get out of your dorm room and take advantage of
the many recreational opportunities around the Top of the World,
everything from the sea to the ice cap that is worth exploring (ex: Did
you do any Thule Trippin when you were in Greenland?)
For many Airmen, an assignment, or even a TDY is probably the only time
they will get the opportunity to visit the Air Force's most remote base.
So why would they want to spend it doing things they could do almost
anywhere else? Especially when so much thought and planning goes into
ensuring they have the unique opportunity to explore.
Some of the activities provided are bound to contract, said Allan Fehrs, supervisor of activities.
"Beyond that, we offer as much as possible," he said. "Because that's why the staff is here."
A lot of the extra events are based on the hobbies, or interests of the
staff working at the time, he said. If someone is a hiker, they plan,
and conduct hiking trips. If one of the staff has an interest in
photography, then they will provide those types of opportunities as
Fehrs said they provide these opportunities as much as the schedule allows.
While the weather in the Arctic Circle is definitely the biggest
challenge, it isn't the only one. An assignment to Thule is normally a
year, and people are rotating in and out all the time. The activities
staff wants to ensure every event they put on is well attended, so they
will vary their approach based on the interests of the Airmen stationed
there at the time.
"It's a constant altering of what people like," he said. "We tailor our
approach to the interest of the people here at the time."
They also link up with the scientists studying the effects of the arctic
climate in various disciplines as well as archaeologists who can
provide educational opportunities on Greenland or its inhabitants past
"We utilize every recreational opportunity that is presented," said Fehrs.
There is also no shortage of indoor activities, for those times the weather or light doesn't cooperate.
The list is quite extensive: Bowling, recreation room, photography
studio and editing room, engraving room, arcade room, stone polishing
room, theater, gym, library, etc. Those are just the regular activities.
It doesn't include specific activities created to give people something
"Since we are here and since it's our hobby, we are going to give it all," Fehrs said.
And recreational opportunities aren't just limited to those put on by
supporting organizations, there are plenty of opportunities to get out
and explore on your own, as long as you are doing it safely and within
the established guidelines.
"If you are bored, you're not doing it right," said Master Sgt.
Christopher Walton, 821st ABG first sergeant. "Between what we offer and
what the contractor and services offer, there is just too much to do."
From boat tours of the bay, hikes around the arctic terrain, ATV trips
and even night photography, the recreation options at the Top of the
World, are only limited by motivation, skill and comfort level.
(Editor's note: This story is part 3 of a 4 part series about life at the Top of the World: Thule Air Base, Greenland.)