August 16, 2019

Veterans invited to free event featuring hiking, canoeing, kayaking and more

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A national veterans advocacy organization’s new Southern Illinois chapter is partnering with Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Veteran Adventures program for a big kick-off event on Aug. 31 and all veterans are welcome.

The SoIL Team River Runner Kickoff will be at SIU’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road. All veterans and active duty military personnel, including National Guard and ROTC, along with their families, are invited to participate. The check-in begins at 9 a.m. and the event launches an hour later. 

Wide variety of activities planned

An assortment of outdoor activities are planned throughout the weekend, to give participants the chance to enjoy Mother Nature and socialize with one another. They can enjoy paddling on the lake and various outdoor games after they check in. A hamburger and hot dog luncheon will be provided at 1 p.m.

Throughout the afternoon, there will be hiking, canoeing, kayaking and a variety of other games and activities. All equipment will be provided.

That evening, a campfire, complete with s’mores, will take place following the dinner from Quatro’s of Carbondale. Those attending can enjoy a moonlight paddle on the lake as well.

Overnight accommodations are available for Friday and/or Saturday nights at no cost. Cabins and tent-camping are offered.

All meals and snacks will be provided for Saturday as will breakfast on Sunday. Funding for the meals is coming from Heroes Helping Heroes Families.

Both groups dedicated to veterans

Veteran Adventures is an SIU initiative to help veterans transition to life at home through powerful wilderness events and expeditions which help provide the healing benefits of adventure and outdoor challenges for vets and their families.

Likewise, the national Team River Runner’s mission is giving veterans and their families opportunities to heal and find purpose and to take on new challenges through adventure and adaptive paddle sports.

Advance registration required

While there is no cost for the kickoff or overnight accommodations, online pre-registration is required for Saturday daytime activities and overnight lodging in order to allow organizers to adequately plan. Register at

The deadline to sign up is Aug. 28.

For more information

For questions about the event, contact Ethan Blumhorst at For information about Touch of Nature Environmental Center or Veteran Adventure, visit, call 618/453-1121 or email