Photo: Steve Adams

Military Bowl Supports Eastern Shore Veterans’ Retreat

A special waterfront veterans’ retreat on the Eastern Shore will get an influx of funds thanks to the Military Bowl, a college football tradition hosted for the seventh straight year by Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

The Military Bowl gave fans a high-scoring game in which the University of North Carolina trounced Temple 55-13. It also celebrated the armed forces with events like a military-themed tailgate featuring a Coast Guard Response Boat-Small II that can patrol the Bay at 46 knots, a parade featuring the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales, and a project that allowed fans to pack care packages for the troops as the game went on.

And for the the third straight year, a portion of each ticket sold (24,242 this year) goes to the upkeep and operations of Patriot Point, a 290-acre retreat where recovering service members, their families, and caregivers are able to relax and enjoy outdoor activities in a safe environment right by the Chesapeake Bay.

Nestled between the northwest corner of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and Slaughter Creek, the property has a long history of providing a peaceful escape for servicemen and women. Former owner Jim Bugg would periodically bring groups from Walter Reed or Bethesda Naval to “Poverty Point” for a few days of hunting, fishing, and conversing with peers. Now, under the Military Bowl Foundation (MBF), which bought the land in 2016, one year after Bugg passed away, has formalized the concept that he started. 

But MBF didn’t just continue Bugg’s legacy; it expanded it by aiming to “create a destination for those who have valiantly served our nation so that they can recharge, refresh and rejuvenate away from the stresses and challenges of their everyday lives,” as Patriot Point’s mission states.

The Military Bowl Foundation has renovated the Point’s circa-1925 main house and 6-bedroom guest house, built a welcome center and barn that includes a state-of-the-art Under Armour Freedom Fitness Center, and rebuilt the pier on Slaughter Creek.

Photo courtesy of Patriot Point

Under MBF, Patriot Point works with other military and veteran service organizations to identify and bring guests who can benefit from the retreat’s many outdoor activities. Veterans and their loved ones have access to boating and paddle sports, fishing and crabbing, art therapy and yoga, to name just a few.

Patriot Point is valuable to veterans not only for its activities and pristine environment: it gives serice members the opportunity to engage, talk, and just be with individuals who’ve experienced similar physical and psychological traumas.

As Jason Burr, a U.S. Army Veteran who’s been visiting the property for over eleven years, puts it, “The vision of Patriot Point was to create a place where wounded soldiers could come together, talk, relax, help them to heal, have them get away from things for a weekend, enjoy the camaraderie of being around other wounded soldiers. It is somewhere they are able to talk without being judged, getting things off their chests, learning to adapt to their injuries and to move on with their lives.”

Patriot Point served more than 500 guests in 2019 and MBF President and Executive Director Steve Beck looks forward to surpassing this number in 2020.

To learn more about this veterans’ retreat, click here.

Steve Adams