GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Every first Friday of a month, a bus tour takes place around U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria installations to show newcomers the most important locations on and off post.
Army Community Service organizes the Windshield Tours to help Soldiers and their families orientate to Tower and Rose Barracks and acquaint them with life in Bavaria.
The Windshield Tours are part of the Relocation Readiness Program and the Discover Bavaria Passport Program.
“For Soldiers and their families, coming overseas can be exciting but also really stressful. With the program, we want to mitigate anxiety, give them a warm welcome and make a good first impression,” said Angelita Streets, Soldier and Family Readiness Program manager at ACS. “It is part of Col. Varney’s vision to integrate newcomers more quickly into their new home away from home.”
Participants can start the tour on both Tower and Rose Barracks where the bus stops in different locations to pick them up. Once newcomers get on the bus, the tour takes them to resources and service locations on post.
Tour stops include the fitness center, Wild B.O.A.R. Outdoor Recreation and the United Service Organizations where staff explains what is offered and answers the newcomers’ questions about their activities. At USO, participants are also invited to have lunch.
Apart from helping the newcomers find their way around on post, the tour also takes them off post into a German supermarket to provide them with knowledge about grocery shopping in Germany.
The tours are guided by Ursula Schneider-Lucaner, a German and retired military spouse who knows German culture just as well as the details of moving overseas.
According to Roswitha Ebnet, Relocation Readiness Program manager at ACS, the target audience is mainly military spouses.
“The Soldiers coming to USAG Bavaria already have connections because they have coworkers and are integrated in their workplace, but the spouses often have nobody,” Ebnet said.
Ebnet has often heard that spouses are scared to go off post. With the Windshield Tours, ACS wants to show them that there is nothing to be scared of.
“Little things sometimes create a big problem,” said Ebnet. “If it’s your first time in Germany, you might not know that the Germans write the date always day-month-year and when you go to the supermarket and look at things, you think everything is expired. This is what I always use as an example.”
The Windshield Tours are designed to get such problems out of the way from the start.
For Cassandra Kirk, a spouse who just moved to Bavaria with her husband and children, this goal was achieved.
“It’s really nice getting to know everything. You get a different perspective,” Kirk said after attending the Windshield Tour May 4. “When I first got here, I had no idea. It is definitely helpful. I have more information now.”
Although the Windshield Tours are advertised for newcomers, everybody who is interested is welcome to participate, not only spouses.
“ACS is here for everybody,” Ebnet said.
“I did it to see what is in the area so I can take advantage of it,” said Ken, who just PCSed here and attended the tour May 4. “I have been to Germany, but not to Bavaria. Everyone who comes to Bavaria should have the opportunity to experience what we experienced today.”
The Windshield Tour takes place every first Friday of a month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are worth one stamp in the Discover Bavaria Passport.
For more information and to sign up for the next tour, contact ACS Tower Barracks DSN 475-8371, CIV 09641-83-8371 or ACS Rose Barracks DSN 476-2650, CIV 09662-83-2650. If you want to participate, please sign up at least two days prior to the next tour.