These injured military veterans, some of whom have lost a leg or an arm or their sight, also come for the camaraderie, the friendship. â€œRecreational therapyâ€ is only part of the cure.
The programâ€™s motto is â€œgiving back to those who have given.â€
Mr. Clark, a US Navy veteran, sees Camp Patriot as a way of paying off a debt to those who were injured as they fought to protect the United States.
â€œThe only reason our countryâ€™s documents mean anything is because these guys signed their name to a blank check to the United States government that says â€˜up to my life, Iâ€™ll defend those documents,â€™ â€ Clark says. â€œWithout someone picking up a weapon and standing post, those papers are [worthless]. I say why donâ€™t we support these guys.â€
The 140-plus veterans who have gone on Camp Patriot outings receive a psychological boost, a lift that leaves them saying in amazement â€œI can do that!â€ Then they ask themselves â€œWhat else can I do?â€
In June, Clark organized a three-day event on the Columbia River that included fishing and a 24-mile kayaking trip.
Dominic Ferraro, one of the four veterans on the trip, often chatted as he paddled along the chilly and swift Columbia River about 30 miles outside Richland, Wash. As he soaked up the scenery, including the beautiful rolling hills that rise above the river, conversation with fellow vets began to flow, too.
â€œYou can feel at ease,â€ says Mr. Ferraro, who lives in Walla Walla, Wash. â€œI enjoy just coming back to hang out and talking with guys who are like-minded. Thereâ€™s a camaraderie.â€
Thereâ€™s also a sense that heâ€™s just with friends, not being observed by counselors.