FORT MONROE, Va. (NNS) -- Working hard to defend the nation and the liberties of its citizens, Navy Sailors build camaraderie each day in their mutual effort to complete the mission and protect American democracy. The day-to-day life of a Sailor can be busy and stressful, and sometimes it’s nice to step back and bond over recreation.
Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and their families did just that during the 2019 George Washington Command Picnic at Paradise Ocean Club, on Friday, June 21.
“I think events like these are very important due to the positive impact they have for the morale of the crew,” said Matthew Pennell, George Washington’s afloat recreation specialist (FUNBOSS). “It allows everyone on the ship who wouldn't normally socialize to do so with each other outside of work. It allows them to build camaraderie and create new friendships, which can ultimately ease tensions and boost morale at the workplace.”
This marks the second year in a row that George Washington has held its command picnic at Paradise Ocean Club, and Pennell stated that the event was a hit again this year.
“So far I've heard a lot of good feedback about the picnic from Sailors,” said Pennell. “That's not to say there aren’t aspects that needed to be improved and adjusted, but throughout the picnic, I feel the Sailors had a great time.”
One George Washington Sailor’s reaction certainly confirmed Pennell’s feedback concerning the picnic.
“I had an absolute blast,” said Religious Programs Specialist 3rd Class Ismael Cazarez, a Sailor assigned to George Washington’s command religious ministries department (CRMD). “The weather was amazing and the food was great.”
Lunch was provided for those in attendance, and numerous activities took place throughout the picnic, including volleyball, cornhole, swimming, and children’s games. The event also kicked off George Washington’s 2019 Captain’s Cup with the first event, a tug-of-war competition.
“My favorite part had to be the atmosphere,” said Cazarez. “Everyone was enjoying themselves, having a good time. Winning the first event in this year's Captain's Cup is also tied for my favorite.”
George Washington’s Dental, Medical, Media, and CRMD departmental teams came out on top in the tug-of-war, giving them an early lead in the Captain’s Cup competition.
With other events still on the way, the Captain’s Cup is far from over, but one thing is for sure: it was another way for Sailors to let loose and have fun while bonding as a unit.
“Being a volleyball person myself, I'm always looking forward to the volleyball competition,” said Pennell. “I also think the ultimate Frisbee event is a fun one to see every team engage in a competitive, yet friendly activity that many can participate in.”
In the aftermath of the picnic, the general crew response has helped to show just how instrumental gatherings like these can be to maintaining high morale during a stressful and tiring refueling complex overhaul period.
“I think events like the picnic are important because being in the yards is no easy task,” said Cazarez. “It's essential to take some time off from all the production work, maintenance, and upkeep to relax, unwind, and enjoy the company of our fellow shipmates.”
Pennell would like to remind George Washington Sailors to continue attending command events, and to provide feedback to improve on future events.
“Thank you to everyone who attended,” said Pennell. “I hope you had a fantastic time at the picnic. I look forward to continuing to grow and learn how to better provide the best experience and parties for everyone.”
Regardless of department, the Sailors of George Washington are one crew working together to achieve one mission. Fun events outside of work such as command picnics help reinforce that, in addition to being coworkers, we are all part of the George Washington family.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.