August 10, 2018

Military personnel, veterans and families invited to enjoy free Warrior Welcome Weekend

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Good, old-fashioned fun and camaraderie are in store for veterans, active duty service personnel and their families at the Veteran Adventures Warrior Welcome Weekend, Aug. 25-26, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

This two-day event is free to all members of any veteran, military, ROTC and National Guard members and their families.

 The fun begins on Saturday

Participants can begin arriving at 1 p.m. on Aug. 25 and until 5 p.m. can choose from a variety of open activities that include canoeing, kayaking, pontoon boat rides, swimming, fishing and hiking.

At that time there will be a cookout and barbecue featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, chips and other sides, fruit, cookies, soda and water. Activities resume from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Other events include a campfire and s’mores starting at 8 p.m., and a special “Paddle on the Lake” reserved just for veterans, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Activities continue on Sunday

More excitement is in store Sunday morning as the action moves to nearby Giant City State Park Shelter 4. A light breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, granola bars and drinks will be available starting at 7:30 a.m. followed by the big R4 (run, ruck, ride and rock climb) adventure. Rock-climbing top-rope equipment is provided and trained staff will be available to assist. Participants will need to bring their own rucksacks and bicycles.

Accommodations available

Those planning to stay overnight have two options, both at no cost. Participants can bring a tent and camp or spend the night in a cabin. The bunkhouse-style buildings have electricity and adjacent shower houses have bathrooms and shower facilities.

Most necessities provided

Touch of Nature will provide canoes, kayaks, paddles, personal flotation devices and all food and snacks free of charge. Lodging and other amenities are also available for free.

Those attending are encouraged to bring: water bottles, sunscreen, beach towels and hats/sunglasses, as well as fishing gear if they want to fish. They may also want to bring a cooler as there is no refrigeration.

Individuals with disabilities are welcome; call 618/453-5738 to request accommodations.

Touch of Nature is located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road.

Register now

The event is free but advance registration is required no later than Aug. 22. Find more information and sign up online at 

For additional information about the Aug. 25 events contact Greg Nejmanowski, Touch of Nature Veteran Adventures coordinator, at 217/827-1996 or To learn more about the R4 on Aug. 26, contact Ethan Blumhorst at 618/314-2084 or

For general questions or information about overnight accommodations, call 618/453-1121.