USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) braved new waters Labor Day weekend when 38 crew members rode the rapids of West Virginia's New River during a two-day outing sponsored by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) office.
The trip marks one of the most ambitious outings planned by Truman's MWR since the ship left the yards earlier this year. Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Thomas Kask, MWR's leading petty officer, said this is one of the few shore-based events MWR has sponsored this year.
On Sept. 4, Sailors boarded a bus and embarked on a six-hour drive to the Rivermen Resort in West Virginia's New River Gorge. Some stayed in tents while others rented cabins in a newly renovated $5 million campsite.
"We were fortunate to stay in the newest campsites in a remote part of the campgrounds, making it a nice little Truman family camping trip," said Kask. "We were only minutes from the lodge and could hear the zip line participants as they flew through the air off in the wood. There were hot breakfasts and dinners served at the lodge, and lunch was on the shore of the river."
The next morning, the Truman camping group set out for the main event – rafting on the tumultuous fresh waters of a West Virginia river.
"It was a pure adrenaline rush!" said Yeoman 3rd Class Joab Giossi, who said he was particularly impressed by video footage of the trip down the river. "I like extreme sports and this is most definitely going down in my book of accomplishments."
After conquering the New River, Truman's intrepid group returned to the campsite to enjoy a hot dinner and a night around the campfire getting to know their shipmates.
"We cooked over the fire, made s'mores, told horror stories and just had a great time," Giossi said.
"Though I really enjoyed the rafting and would go again and again, the part that I liked most was hanging out at the camp fires and relaxing with the other Sailors and guests that were there," said Kask, as he described how he and the other adventurers re-lived the sights and sounds of the river during their conversations that night.
The group said goodbye to the Mountain State Sept. 6 and boarded the bus for Norfolk. They may have left the river behind, but many formed new friendships through the shared experience and formed a closer bond with their shipmates.
"I would say that was one of the major highlights of the trip actually," said Giossi. "Being able to meet people from other departments you wouldn't usually talk to on a daily basis and being put in a situation where you were depending on each other as team members."
Truman's MWR, known for providing quality entertainment underway, is currently focusing on providing more shore-based events when Truman is moored.
Kask said Truman's demanding underway schedule this year has made it difficult for MWR to sponsor many activities off the ship. However, he said the MWR team is committed to scheduling as many of these types of activities as possible.
"We are in the works for planning several such adventurous groups in the near future including parasailing, bungee jumping, and even possibly sky diving," Kask said. "We are already working to plan another rafting trip."
The upcoming events as well as the rafting adventure are just a part of MWR's ongoing commitment to maintaining the morale of the Truman crew.
"It is our goal to positively improve the quality of life of those who serve on board USS Harry S. Truman," said Kask.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.