Military News

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Thule Trippin: Recreation at the Top of the World

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 well.

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 and present.

"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 to do.

"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.)

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