ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
Whether it is because of blistering heat or chilling snow, sometimes spending time indoors is necessary.
For Airman 1st Class Cody Kirby, a pavement and equipment operations apprentice assigned to the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron, he has experienced both extremes of the weather spectrum.
He recently returned from a deployment to Kuwait, where temperatures reached highs of 130 degrees Fahrenheit and he learned valuable lessons in staying active and making friends, among other things.
“It was way too hot to do anything outside,” Kirby said. “If you weren’t inside sitting next to an air conditioner you were probably sweating.”
With little relief until the sun went down, deployed service members needed to find a way to entertain themselves indoors.
“It is hard to find a way to connect with a bunch of strangers you just met in the desert,” Kirby said. “But grabbing a board game, or deck of cards is something everyone can participate in.”
Kirby explained most of the time power outlets and televisions were taken so there were few options other than picking something that did not require electricity.
“I feel like playing board games was a much better time than playing video games anyways,” Kirby said. “A lot of people would have the whole television and play by themselves, but you could grab a board game and get eight different people involved at the same time.”
Kirby’s inclination to grab a game designed for multiple people helped him become friends with people he used to call strangers.
“People tend to drop their barriers and relax when they are playing games because they only focus on playing and having fun,” said Kirby. “It is almost like vacation for your brain, you come away feeling better than before you played.”
Now that he is back at Ellsworth, Kirby will soon be in the same situation with inclement weather keeping him indoors.
“Being back helps with the heat, but now instead of the sand I have to deal with the snow,” Kirby said.
As a member of the snow patrol detail, Kirby is responsible for keeping all roadways on Ellsworth free of snow and ice to ensure base operations can continue smoothly. “Although the plows make it through the snow, there are a lot of times it is much safer for most people to just stay indoors and find something to do,” Kirby said. “Playing cards with a group of friends is a quick fix to not being bored if you are stuck on base.”
Even though it may seem like just playing games, Kirby knows it can help lead to more meaningful conversations.
“People tend to talk about things that are troubling them when they are in a relaxed environment,” Kirby said. “Having just returned from a deployment, I know that it can feel like there isn’t anyone to really talk to, which is why I like setting up an environment where people can speak freely.”
With the low cost and convenience Kirby feels that everyone should take some time to unplug, relax and spend time playing with friends or family.
“Too many people get buried in their phones and social media and forget to enjoy what they have in front of them,” Kirby said. “It is never too hot or cold to spend some time inside playing games with your friends or family.”