SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- --
Ever since he was a child, Airman 1st Class Quintin Rice wanted to become a Pokémon master.
Growing up in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, during the height of the Pokémon craze, Rice dwelled in everything Pokemon, card-battling friends, buying all the merchandise, frequently reciting the theme song. He even logged more than 300 hours in a single game.
“I did all things Pokémon, everything besides actually catching them,” said Rice, who is a member of the 50th Force Support Squadron.
Now 25, the responsibilities of adult life has long dampened the wonders of his care-free childhood, and his “Farfetch’d” aspiration to become a Pokémon master seemed buried forever under phone bills, car payments, social standards and world views.
Then he discovered the 50th Space Wing’s Chaplain’s Office’s “Pokémon challenge,” and thanks to them, he was able to unearth his dream.
“I saw this as an opportunity to achieve one of my aspirations,” said Rice.
The challenge provides a path for any Airman to earn the title of “Pokémon master” by completing various tasks, each awarding the participant a badge similar to the ones given in the games.
“We saw the Pokémon craze with their mobile game and wanted to find a way to apply it to promoting spiritual fitness,” said (Chaplain) Capt. Portmann Werner, Schriever Chaplain. “Each badge’s task was designed to promote spiritual growth.”
“We didn’t relate the badges to how they were in the games. We wanted them to symbolize eight steps, or ‘quests’ that people can go out and achieve for their benefit.”
Like the games, there were eight badges in total, with every one presenting Rice a new challenge in his journey to become a Pokémon master:
Boulder Badge-Take a selfie in front of a religious landmark
The first step of Rice’s journey was simple. He traveled to the Peterson Air Force Base chapel to take a photo in front of the pulpit.
“I went there because many military members go to the chapel during their times of struggle, and I thought it would be appropriate as it is a religious landmark in my eyes,” he said.
Cascade Badge-Perform a significant act of kindness anonymously
Rice’s second task was a little more subtle, and involved his workplace at the 50 FSS.
“I left some food for one of my co-workers while they were held up in classes,” said Rice. “I wanted to be a good wingman. The person never found out who it was.”
Thunder Badge-Write a list about what gives you a feeling of purpose or hope and what you appreciate in life
The Thunder Badge required Rice to take an introspective look at himself. After a period of reflection, he composed his list.
“My No. 1 was my achievements in life. I feel like I’m doing well. I graduated college, I’m serving in the Air Force and I’ve made myself a better person. I feel like the future I have is going to be a good one,” he said.
Rainbow Badge-Observe a religious tradition outside your own faith, traditions and background
Mid-way through, Rice, who was raised as a Baptist, decided to attend a Christian Science church for a day.
“It was a very formal experience. They read scripture. People read stories. As formal as it was, it was also a very relaxing atmosphere,” he said.
Soul Badge-Volunteer for more than two hours with a non-profit organization
For this badge, Rice traveled to the Peterson dorms to help first sergeants and his fellow dorm mates, enjoying a Friday afternoon.
“The first sergeants were having a picnic for Airmen at the dorms. I helped tear down the obstacle course they had there. I had a lot of fun playing on the course, so it was a way to show my appreciation toward them for such a great experience,” said Rice.
Marsh Badge-Correctly answer a quiz about various religious
To earn his sixth badge, Rice had to report to the chaplain’s office to answer a myriad of questions before moving on to the final stretch of his journey. He admits he should have brushed up on his studying beforehand.
“This was probably the hardest part,” said Rice. “The questions were very specific.”
Volcano Badge-Show off the product of your current hobby, or start a new one
Nearing the completion of his journey, the seventh badge provided Rice an opportunity to express a passion of his own outside of Pokémon.
“I brought in one of my boxing wraps to the chaplains to show them how much I love the sport,” said Rice. “I told them how great of a sport it was and how it helped me get in the best shape of my life.”
Earth Badge-Volunteer for a chapel-sponsored event
The last task standing between Rice and the completion of his childhood dream was to volunteer for the chaplains.
“I helped set-up tables, prepared food and helped out with anything else they needed during a dinner at lodging,” he said.
All eight badges in hand, Rice had finally earned the title of “Pokémon master,” the first at Schriever.
However, in his quest from badge to badge, Rice gained more than a title - the journey helped build upon his spiritual fitness, giving him a new perspective of his faith.
“It felt good just to help out and explore myself,” said Rice. “I learned so much from each experience. I saw another aspect of religion, I helped out so many people and became a better Airman.”
Rice may be the Pokémon challenge’s first winner, but the chaplain’s office hopes he won’t be the last.
“If you want to be the very best that no one ever was, come to the chaplain’s office and sign up for the challenge,” said Werner.
For more information about the challenge, contact Werner at 567-3715