Over the weekend of October 21, 2016 – October 23, 2016 I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Team RWB National GORUCK Camp. The weekend involved leadership classes, amazing speakers, and a GORUCK Rucking University course.
The weekend was stuffed with activities and I will do my best to make this AAR consistent with the timeline of my trip.
Why Was I Invited?
The Team RWB National GORUCK Camp is designed to provide leadership training to Team RWB chapter leaders around the nation. As many of you know I am a member of Team RWB (thanks to Kirk) but I hold no leadership position.
It turns out at each of these events there are two “GORUCK Pros” that Team RWB and GORUCK invite. Leesa was one which made me the other.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
The trip started for me the day before the actual conference. My flight flew out at 12:15 AM PST on Friday so I had to get everything packed and ready. Sometime I’ll get around to writing a “Traveling For GORUCK” post but for this event I definitely overpacked. There were a few people in the group who had never done a GORUCK event so I brought two (or three) of everything… just in case they needed something. I figured if I was supposed to be a “GORUCK Pro” that I should do my best to help out however possible.
The one saving grace was that we did not need to bring a ruck for the Rucking University event as we were told one would be provided. Even with that info it was still tough to get everything I wanted to bring within my carry-on and my GR1. It might be time to buy a new carry-on bag.
Friday, October 21, 2016
My flight departed Seattle around 12:15 AM and landed in DFW around 5:45 AM. I flew out of DFW around 7:15 AM and arrived in JAX by 10:45 AM… well before everyone else. The first shuttle was scheduled to leave the airport for the hotel around 3 PM so I decided to take an Uber from the airport to GORUCK HQ.
Best. Decision. Ever. I’m still blown away at how cheap Uber rides are… it was a little under $26 for the trip and it saved me over four hours of sitting in the airport.
GORUCK HQ is what you imagine it to be. It’s an open environment where everyone is working hard and having a good time. With young companies you truly have to love what you do to survive.
There are three dogs running around who greet everyone who shows up at the front door. Kit had been my point person for this event and thankfully he’s a super nice guy who had time to grab lunch with me. Nothing beats having a local show you around and choose the place to eat in a new town.
After lunch GR HQ was nice enough to put me up for a few hours until my hotel room was ready. Jason came over and we chatted for a bit about the state of GORUCK and what he had going on. I was also able to hang out with their backend developer and talk shop which is always fun.
Beers were had and I was even able to get some actual work done on Charity Challenges which was awesome. On a side note I hope to have the online store over there complete and launching soon.
It turns out GORUCK is within walking distance of the hotel we were all staying at which was very convenient. It was nice to check in, complete a ROMWOD stretch, take a shower, then get a quick nap in. I’m decent at sleeping on planes but even so I only got four or five hours total the night before.
We all decided to walk to dinner from the hotel. I think everyone was feeling the pain of a full day of flying and wanted to get out and move. It was nice to have dinner with the Team RWB group and get to know some of them. I called it an early night because the following day was stuffed with activities.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Saturday was the big event-filled day with our schedule starting at 6 AM and ending around 8 PM. Traveling from the west coast to the east coast is always special because of those pesky time zones. A 6 AM start time means it’s 3 AM in Seattle… and I am rarely awake at 3 AM in Seattle.
Team RWB Leadership Course
The first block of the day was called “Why Do You Wear the Eagle?” and allowed everyone to share their story about how they found Team RWB and why they were so involved. There were some phenomenal and deeply moving stories shared and each one gave insight into the person telling it.
The passion that members of Team RWB have for the organization reminds me of GRTs and their passion for GORUCK. The way everyone shared their stories was reminiscent of GRTs sharing stories about their first GORUCK event. This segment was probably the hardest for me, not because I dislike public speaking, but because I didn’t share the same passion and fire for Team RWB that they did.
My “Why Do You Wear the Eagle?” story is short, not at all interesting, and very much lame. I joined Team RWB because one of my best friends Kirk (aka Mettle Forger) was a member. We were running Charity Challenges together and he said to me, “You know what? It would be really cool if we could say this website was run 100% by Eagles… you should join Team RWB.” At his request I went to the website and signed up. Done.
I went to a few GORUCK x Team RWB events and had a great time but I didn’t feel as if I had the time to get involved. I didn’t own a Team RWB shirt (I also don’t own a GBF shirt) and I didn’t feel like I was part of Team RWB… if that makes sense. As I write this I realize that this segment was so difficult because I felt like my lame story was detracting from some of the incredible stories people were sharing. I will say that after spending this weekend with Team RWB I do now feel like a member and am excited to get more involved with my local chapter.
The second segment involved talks from some incredible leaders at Team RWB. Blayne (Executive Director), Garrett (Southeast Regional Director), and Patrick (Program Manager Southeast Region) all gave some of the best talks and advice on leadership I have ever heard. I was blown away by the caliber of their presentations. I have read books on leadership, have taken courses on leadership, and have been a leader and the messages they got across brought everything to the next level. The techniques, ideas, and thoughts they expressed were applicable everywhere you need to be a leader.
After the leadership talk we had a special guest speaker who was one of the persons responsible for the establishment of Delta Force. It was an absolute honor to be in the same room as him and hear what he had to say.
GORUCK Rucking University
The GORUCK portion of the day involved a leadership course from Big Daddy followed by a Rucking University course led by Jason McCarthy.
Big Daddy introduced us to the four things you need to do to successfully plan an event.
- Understand the problem.
- Visualize success.
- Over-communicate without micromanaging.
- Adapt to win.
You could tell this topic was something he was passionate about. After him and I spoke later about the future state of GORUCK I could see just why he was so passionate… because he was doing those four things every day at GORUCK.
After the leadership course by Big Daddy Jason came up and showed us how to properly wrap bricks so that they won’t ruin a pack. We had each been given a 20L GORUCK Rucker so this was a great opportunity to get some weight in it.
It was fun to use bricks instead of a weight plate because it instilled the idea that you don’t need much to ruck. You don’t need an expensive weight or a fancy pack… you just need a backpack and some weight (in this case bricks) and you’re set. That was one of the things Jason kept bringing up throughout the event… that you can spend hundreds of dollars on gear if you want but you don’t have to… the barrier to entry is minimal.
I have taken part in one Rucking University course in the past which I had a great time at. Kit had mentioned that they had changed the program a little which was apparent when we got going.
The major difference was that there was zero time spent in a class room setting. I’m not sure if that’s the new norm or just occurred because we had already been sitting so long but that’s what happened.
Instead, all the modules were taught throughout the event. We would ruck to a location, do some PT, learn about rucking, then head out to a new location. There was a bit of that occurring during my Rucking University course but it wasn’t the whole event.
One of the major themes for the course was to spread joy and remind Americans that we are still great. To do this our group traveled around the Jacksonville area singing “Proud to be an American” to anyone who would listen.
Before we could take our show on the road we needed to rehearse it so that we wouldn’t be completely pathetic. Poor performances were met with additional PT, average performances were met with additional PT, basically anything short of stellar was met with additional PT.
Our first destination was a grass area that Jason referred to as Pokémon Park due to the number of children who play Pokémon Go there. Sure enough when we showed up there were children running around with phones dressed up as Pokémon… it was quite a sight.
After serenading everyone in the park we split into four teams for some relay races.
I’m fairly certain I still have thorns in my hand from the bear crawl and wheelbarrow relay races. After the relays Jason taught us proper footcare and we rehydrated which was something I needed. The Florida weather was much warmer than Seattle and I was not prepared for that. This led to me require more water than I’m used to which we thankfully had plenty of.
We completed a final offering of our song then prepared to head out.
From Pokémon Park we rucked over to the Lifeguard area to give them a heartfelt rendition of our song. Jason brought up that they were volunteering to serve us so the least we could do was sing a little song for them.
Turns out they had their own song and, once we had finished, belted out Buttercup with us joining in. Definitely not your normal event.
What would a beach event be without fun in the water?
The Florida beaches have real sand and some of the warmest water around.
In Seattle most of our beaches are filled with rocks and they are not fun for an event.
From our playtime in the water we rucked over to the restaurant we had ate at the night before. It was time for our big performance and we crushed it. The outside dining area was packed and we yelled that song at the top of our lungs. Mission accomplished.
We rucked back to GORUCK HQ for a final song and then received our Rucking University patches. The weather was incredible and it was great to explore some of Jacksonville while learning about the other Team RWB members there.
It felt good to leave all our bricks in a pile at GORUCK HQ… hopefully someone there gets some use out of them!
Pig Roast at GORUCK HQ
After Rucking University we were able to shower (thankfully) and then were treated to a pig roast at GORUCK HQ.
After seeing the above picture you will have no doubt that it was a true pig roast. It was great to relax at HQ and just chat with everyone. I was able to get some time with Big Daddy for a bit and get the inside scoop on some of the upcoming new events. You can already find some of the new events over in the Expeditions section of GORUCK. Save your money and prepare yourself.
It was also cool to just explore the building and take some pictures.
Monster was sticking around outside enjoying the music.
You can tell the office is truly a reflection of what Jason enjoys and the culture he’s trying to achieve at GORUCK.
One of the boxes of patches grabbed my attention almost immediately…
…it looks like GORUCK is either VERY optimistic at the number of Selection finishers or stocked up so they’d have enough for the next 100+ years. Either way there were a ton in that box.
Before this trip I had never been to a Waffle House… not once. We don’t have them in Seattle and I had never seen one in person before.
I noticed there was one maybe two blocks away from GORUCK HQ so I made it my mission to stop there once just for the experience. It did not disappoint!
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Sunday was the last day of the trip and featured a ruck workout (led by Kit) and two talks. I’m very thankful to my roommate for waking me up for the ruck workout… that time change was not doing any favors for me.
The ruck workout was down on the beach and featured a relay race between two teams. It was a great way to warm up for the day and get moving… especially since most of us were going to be spending time on a plane later.
Kit focused on the accessibility of a ruck workout and how you can ruck from the start point to a destination, get a fun workout in, then ruck back. This aligns perfectly with Team RWB’s goal of getting people active again.
Team RWB Leadership Course
The talks today were from Nancy St. Claire (of Give An Hour) and Lanni who is the leader of one of the largest RWB chapters in the nation.
Nancy (the COO of Give An Hour) unites veterans and veteran families with free therapists. Not only are the services free but they are confidential, don’t go through insurance, and are off-the-record. Definitely worth checking out if you, or someone you know, needs to talk to someone.
After the speakers finished it was time to get our final patches and say goodbye to everyone. We received our Team RWB Ruck Camp patches and everyone began their trip home.
My flight didn’t leave for another four hours so I had time to grab lunch and hangout at GORUCK HQ for a bit. Jason stopped by with Monster so it was good to say thanks and say goodbye to him.
Getting Involved with Team RWB
Based on what I heard from this camp Team RWB will be getting a lot more involved in rucking. If you’re looking for people to train or ruck with I’d highly recommend checking out your local Team RWB chapter.
Signing up is incredibly easy (just head over to their website and put in a little info) and someone from your local group should reach out to you.
The Team RWB Ruck Camp was an incredible experience. It was great to meet so many people who are genuinely passionate about helping others. The local leadership positions at Team RWB are all volunteer led so you know the people love what they do.
Although most of us are from different corners of the US I truly hope we’ll run into each other again at some point. There was one member there from the Seattle chapter and another from the JBLM chapter so I’m sure that I’ll at least see them again.
Finally, I want to give a huge THANK YOU to team RWB and GORUCK for putting this event on. It was much more than I expected it to be and I am truly honored to have been included.