September 08, 2017

‘Veteran Adventures’ activities are set

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Student veterans from throughout the region can enjoy a variety of special trips and activities this year courtesy of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Veteran Adventures. 

SIU’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center and Veteran Services are partnering to offer these fun, camaraderie-building events at no charge.  All student veterans, current armed forces personnel and members of the National Guard/Reserves and ROTC are welcome to participate. Thanks to fundraising efforts by Touch of Nature on behalf of the Veteran Adventures program and the generosity of the community, veterans will incur no costs to participate in any of the programs.

Registration is limited for some adventures though, so early sign-up is encouraged to secure a spot.

The 2017-2018 schedule kicks off with a Fall Break Whitewater Adventure Oct. 6-9. Participants will enjoy the excitement of navigating the whitewater rapids of the Ocoee and Nantahala Rivers in the Great Smoky Mountains.  Guides, gear, transportation and food are all provided.

A pheasant hunt is slated for Dec. 2 at Rend Lake’s Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park. Hunters can each harvest up to two pheasants during the second annual controlled hunt. Local sportsmen will provide hunting dogs. Veteran Adventures will provide shuttle transportation to the park from Touch of Nature. The bus will leave the center, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road, at 6 a.m. The hunt is limited to the first 10 veterans to register.

Veteran Adventures deer camp will take place Dec. 8-10. The fourth annual deer camp is at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, located eight miles south of Carbondale along Giant City Road. In addition to partaking in a weekend of socializing and hunting, participants will hear special guest speakers discuss wildlife management, field dressing and butchering, food preparation, hunting and other related topics. All food, lodging, gear, deer stands, hunting guides and anything else needed for the hunt is provided. The deadline to register is Dec. 1.

Wrapping up the schedule is the 2018 Spring Break Georgia Loop Trail Backpacking Trip, set for March 10-18. Veterans will enjoy scenic views and take in all Mother Nature has to offer while hiking a loop that encompasses parts of the Appalachian Trail, the Duncan Ridge Trail and the Benton MacKaye Trail. Participants will traverse the peaks and valleys, visit hiking shelters along the way and take in the flora and fauna of Georgia. Backpacks and other gear, as well as transportation and food, are provided.

Find more information about the Veteran Adventures programs and the upcoming hunts and trips, visit and click on “Veteran Adventures.”  Online registration is available now for the trips and the outdoor sporting events. Call 618/453-1121 or email for additional details.

The goal of the Veteran Adventures program is to offer veterans a chance to spend quality time with one another while participating in enjoyable activities to assist them in the transition from military life to civilian life.