Notice: Service Components are no longer required at GORUCK events. Read more about that announcement here.
GORUCK recently announced their newest change to the GORUCK Challenge (Light/Tough/Heavy) series of events. There is now a required service component which will take part during the event and is meant to strengthen the bond between teammates as well as strengthen their communities.
What is the Service Component?
As a team your GORUCK Light/Tough/Heavy class is expected to organize yourselves prior to the event and pick something in your community that will make it a better place. Jason describes this more as a “Service Action” instead of a “Service Project.” What’s the difference? A Service Action is something you can complete rather quickly but still creates an impact. Quick examples of this are…
- Clean grave stones
- Donate canned food
- Bring trash bags and clean up part of a trail you’re rucking
- Hand out food bags to the homeless
The list is essentially endless. The goal of the service component is two-fold… first to make a difference in your community and second to force your team to talk and plan in advance of the event. We can only hope that this extra communication in advance will help some teams mesh quicker than they otherwise would have.
Planning Your Service Component
Jason has stated in numerous different locations that the service component will be organized through Facebook. There will not be a special “GORUCK Forum” or other line of communication for the service component. While that’s great news for some it’s equally terrible news for others as there are people who refuse to use Facebook. While you can view events on Facebook without being logged in you cannot view discussions. What does that mean for someone who refuses to use Facebook? We guess either make a fake account and grab a VPN or show up without knowing about the service component.
If you’re struggling on planning your service component then consider reaching out to your local Team RWB chapters or veteran non-profits. Those groups are generally tied in to the area and will gladly help you find something that you can do quickly and make an impact with.
What if I Don’t Want to?
We’ve seen this posted around… on Facebook, Reddit, even GORUCK’s own blog where people are asking what happens if they don’t want to take part in the service component. While we don’t know for sure what will happen we do know the service component is now part of the event. Someone saying “no” to the service component should be treated equally as someone saying “no” to carrying the log or “no” to carrying their ruck. You’re a team… it’s now part of the event… deal with it.
If you truly hate service then you probably should wait a few weeks to sign up for an event to see how large of a role it will play. Not trying to be rude just trying to be honest… it could be akin to someone who hates swimming signing up for a Triathlon and then getting upset when they realize they can’t just skip the swim.
This section gets a little “ranty” which we try and avoid but the info is good and hopefully (if you hate the idea of this) it will help you think about the service component in a different light.
Not that it matters but here are our thoughts on the service component. Jason has promised that the beat-down will remain the same (he said to register for an event if you don’t believe him) and we’re glad that’s not going anywhere. We see it as the next evolution of the GORUCK Challenge series of events. We remember our original flame patch and the event-style that those brought… then the challenge morphed when the Spearhead patch came around… then the Light and Heavy were created… then Charming the Snake… and now the service component. If there’s one thing we’ve seen with the GORUCK events over the past six years it’s that they are always evolving… which honestly makes it more fun for those of us who have done a decent number of their events.
For those who hate this then consider the following… We feel that the service component brings a new mental and emotional challenge to the GORUCK events. If you truly hate this then use it to your advantage as a way to strengthen your mental fortitude.
Here are some examples of how a service project might bring a mental or emotional challenge to your GORUCK event. Cleaning headstones for 25 minutes might not be as physically hard as completing 100 burpess and 400 flutter kicks but think about it for a second… you’re cleaning the stone that marks someone’s entire life… and it’s sitting six feet above their (hopefully) deceased body. Their entire life, however many years they lived, is summed up on that stone and you’re reading it while you clean it. Some day you will have a stone like that and it will sit above your resting body and there’s a small chance that some person in a GORUCK event will be cleaning it for their service component.
Next example: handing out food and water to the homeless. During GORUCK Heavy 009 we had two Jerrycans that we carried all over Seattle with us. It has a hot day… the hottest day of the year… and people were miserable. During one of our rucks Big Daddy made us stop by a homeless camp and he filled up water bottles of the people living there. We had never seen people so happy to get something that our team took for granted every day of the year and it really got us thinking about their lives, our lives, and how crazy life is in general. The miles in the event sucked but one of the biggest takeaways was how little you can do to really change the day for someone else. It was an emotional experience.
Adding these experiences to GORUCK events can help strengthen your mind while the physical portion destroys your body.
Here’s the quick hits of this article…
- If you are signed up for a Light/Tough/Heavy event you must figure out a service action.
- You must complete your service action during your event.
… and that’s it. Figure out something to do that will make your community just a little bit better and you are set. For more reading check out GORUCK’s service component announcement post and their follow-up post. We’d love to hear your thoughts about the service component in the comments!