Episode 6 Gold Star Sailing
episode 6 summary
Veterans need a sense of purpose. If the sole purpose of working is to pay the bills, you don’t feel good about yourself.
Patrick Powers always wanted to serve. In college, he entered the ROTC program and never looked back. While in college, he completed Basic Camp and Airborne School as a paratrooper, and it changed everything – “it helped me build confidence and self-esteem.” He continued on through Ranger School and Special Forces (Green Beret) School. Colonel Patrick Powers fought in two wars in Iraq (the Surge) and Afghanistan.
Between deployments, Patrick got hooked on sailing. His uncle was into sailing and took him out sailing for a weekend – “It was like an episode of Star Trek – I had beamed down to another planet. I knew I wanted more of that.”
After 26 years, Colonel Powers retired from the military and wanted to give back. He had lost a Paratrooper who had a couple of young kids and observed how Gold Star families struggled. The typical reaction is sorry for your loss. At some point, you get sick of hearing that, especially if you are a teenager, which is hard enough. They don’t want people to feel sorry for them. They want to just be kids and not feel guilty for having fun. There are many programs that the kids say are not helpful, they are called “cry camps.” Or they go to Disney for a week with no lasting impact.
There had to be a better way to help these Gold Star teenagers. Patrick had found his purpose and combined that with his love of sailing to create Gold Star Sailing, a one-week sailing camp that changes lives.
It is important to connect the kids to the military. Just a little taste – like an MRE picnic, rappelling, shooting a simulator. Then he introduces them to sailing to change their perspective. They start to think bigger thoughts about a bigger future. Sailing helps them get out of their comfort zone, and they learn life skills: doing what is fun where you are, embracing opportunities as they are presented, and team building. By day two, the defense mechanisms come down, and they start to bond. By day three, they start to share and take care of each other. That is the secret sauce. They leave as family, and they stay connected through social media. 50% return as counselors, continuing their leadership development.
Patrick’s goal is to grow the number and locations of Gold Star Sailing camps across the US through the creation of an endowment.