By Anna Larson
and Guest Blogger
The first time I saw a tarantula in the wild, I thought it was pretty cool… as long as I was watching it from a distance. I took photos of that “wow” moment and splashed them all over social media. The second time I saw a tarantula in the wild, it crawled over my foot and I almost fainted.
Welcome to camping in Texas.
My family chose to settle near Fort Hood (now Fort Cavazos) after my spouse completed his 22+ years of active-duty service. As I realized that there were no more PCS moves, and I was contemplating planting roots in my “forever-for-now” community, I knew it would be important to find a place where I could make a difference.
Military spouses are infamous for being volunteers who are sometimes “volun-told” to support unit activities and build up the military community. I would even say that our military would not survive or thrive without the thousands of military spouse volunteers and the work they do.
Volunteer work is how we find friends after a PCS move and become involved in local community causes that give us purpose and help us feel like we’re part of something bigger. It’s also one of the few ways military spouses can fill in gaps on their resumes when work opportunities are difficult to find.
It’s no different when retirement or other transitions loom and you realize that once again you are losing a community, a home, and an identity; you will need to find your place once again.
As I settled into this small Texas town, I considered activities that I love and contemplated if any could help me integrate into the community and make long-lasting friendships. I ran down the list of my many hobbies.
Swimming and water sports came first to mind, but I had just read an article about alligators living in the lake 15 minutes from my home. That got checked off the list pretty quickly.
I love to be crafty, but if I’m honest with myself, I belong more in the “nailed it.” category than the “setting up a table to make money off my designs at the local craft fair” category. It might be better to keep this one as an activity for my spare time.
Camping and hiking? That is what our family does together, and both my kids are involved in Scouts BSA, which is always looking for adult leaders to support activities. I signed myself up and realized pretty quickly that I had found my match as I immersed myself in the scouting program. In fact, this is how I found myself camping with tarantulas.
When We Find Our “Why”
DeAnn Hollis penned this famous quote about volunteering, “The heart of a volunteer is never measured in size but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others.”
While we military spouses joke about how much volunteering we’re asked to do, the truth is that every time we step up, we’re each showing the depth of our commitment to our family, our servicemember, the military community, and even the United States of America.” We’re out there picking up the slack, jumping in where needed, and serving to the best of our ability while juggling all the things that come with military life. I want you to know that it does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. You have the heart of a volunteer.
This fall and winter, I’ll be sleeping in a tent and cooking over a campfire for seven different weekends. If you’d asked me five years ago if I’d be this committed to the scouting program, willing to sleep where tarantulas live, and proudly leading twelve young scouts as their confidence and outdoor skills can grow, I’d have laughed at the idea.
To those military spouses nearing transition or moving through retirement, I encourage you to find your place and your “why.” Whether it’s leading youth, supporting underserved communities, growing your faith base, or strengthening your active-duty military brothers and sisters, I encourage you to participate in an organization that helps you become part of your “forever-for-now” community.
About Anna Larson
Anna is a copywriter and digital marketing strategist, and owner of NomadAbout, a digital marketing strategies company that helps entrepreneurs and other business owners showcase their organizations through social media, websites, and marketing campaigns what they are passionate about and how they do it better than anyone else. She is active in the military community, co-hosting a weekly business-oriented livestream and co-leading the Fort Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood) Cha Chapter of the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs.
Europe, Africa, and the United States, her family made the leap into military retirement. Anna is also a SpouseLink Ambassador with two kids and two dogs. She’s a long-time homeschool mom that loves dance parties, popcorn, camping, and snorkeling in the ocean. In her spare time, you’ll find her traveling the world with her family, relaxing around a fire pit, or on a long walk with her pups.