Forging A Trail For Connection
by U.S. Space Force Airman 1st Class Cody Friend
January 6, 2024
A cool breeze gently blows through the trees, a choir of birds sing a beautiful chorus and water softly trickles through a nearby stream.
From a young age, U.S. Space Force Spc. 3 Sean Clark, a 4th Electromagnetic Warfare Squadron electromagnetic warfare operator, has been captivated by the great outdoors.
December 6, 2023 - U.S. Space Force Spc. 3 Sean Clark, 4th Electromagnetic Warfare Squadron space systems operator, at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado started the Colorado Wildland Wanderers group to connect people associated with the military through different events like hiking, skiing, and more. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody Friend.)
Nature continues to be a driving force in his life ... Getting lost a few times growing up taught him how to navigate the landscape around him with more attention to detail. The inviting scenery lets him focus on his mental and physical well-being, and it now gives him a passion that he can share with others.
“As a kid I lived a few years in New Mexico, and the back gate opened up to just wilderness, and you could do a 20-minute hike to the Rio Grande River in a roughly 500-foot drop canyon,” Clark said. “It was beautiful, I think that's a really great experience that shaped me as a human being.”
During his technical training at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, Clark didn’t stay in his dorm ... he continued his ventures through the mountains, valleys and coastal plains.
However, it wasn’t until his arrival at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, where he decided to share that captivation and build a connection with others. A few weeks later, he founded the Colorado Wildland Wanderers Discord group.
His original hope was that there would be an established group for hiking and outdoor related activities. While he found some groups planned the occasional excursion, Clark’s love for the outdoors pushed him to start his own group dedicated to exploring the outdoors on a weekly basis.
November 10, 2023 - From the left, U.S. Space Force Spc. 3 Feldan Tang, 2nd Space Operations Squadron space systems operator, Spc. 3 Zachary Valencik, 4th Electromagnetic Warfare Squadron space systems operator, and Spc. 3 Sean Clark, 4th EWS space systems operator, look out towards the setting sun in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Colorado Wildland Wanderers group, started by Spc. 3 Sean Clark, hosts many events meant to combat loneliness and bring together anyone associated with the military. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody Friend.)
“The first weekend I was here, I went to Garden of the Gods with a buddy of mine from basic [training] and Vandenberg, and that was a lot of fun,” Clark said. “Then the next weekend I had been through the [First Term Enlisted Course], and we went to Seven Falls, which was fantastic. Everybody was up to going on another one in the future, and I was like, ‘Okay, let's make this happen,’ and it just grew from there.”
Clark has not been alone in his efforts; U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Alice Wardlaw, a 561st Network Operations Squadron network management operator, was in the same FTEC class as Clark and has been helping organize events and also created a poster for the group.
“As far as what keeps me coming back, it's a lot of fun getting to meet a bunch of new people from different backgrounds, different jobs, getting to learn a little bit more about either their job or their home state,” Wardlaw said. “Just getting to connect with people, having a bit of a community around here and being able to do something that gets you out of your dorm room. Going out and touching grass kind of thing.”
Clark hopes that through this group, he is able to combat loneliness and foster connection.
“My vision is for it to be open to anyone affiliated with the military,” Clark said. “Contractors, dependents, officers, enlisted, retired ... go for it.”
U.S. Space Force | U.S. Department of Defense
Our Valiant Troops | I Am The One | Uncommon Valor | Veterans | Citizens Like Us | Spouses Serve Too