The Navy SEAL community got its first look at the C4 Foundation’s ranch retreat this past Saturday during a private event. Located in East County, the property boasts 560 acres, a well-appointed guest house, a modest chapel, a petting zoo with a llama, and a pond complete with fountain.
“Serving as the cornerstone of the C4 Foundation’s mission to provide support and resources to Navy SEAL families, the local organization’s new ranch in East San Diego County creates a private getaway for families to relax and rejuvenate and enjoy quality time with each other.”
Set to welcome SEAL families starting this May for weekend-long stays, it will offer an opportunity to create positive memories in a safe and fun environment, which can form the foundation for strength and support during pre-, mid-, and post-deployment. “This is a sanctuary for Navy SEALS and their families to help with the decompression process,” said Board of Directors Member and C4 Foundation Treasurer DeAnn Keating.
The C4 Foundation is based on the notion that “[o]ne can only imagine the stress of being an active duty Navy SEAL. The distance and pressure of deployments, the buildup, and workups prior to leaving, the time apart from your loved ones, the theater of war, and the ambiguity of the return home can be, at times, emotionally insurmountable.” The organization works to “prepare for and minimize the consequences of those stresses in order to keep the focus of the warrior on the things that keep him focused on his job and a peaceful family life.”
Having the ranch and its various outdoor and hands-on recreation activities are key to forming positive and gratitude-based experiences while strengthening family bonds, explains Glenn Fox, C4 Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Program Design, Strategy and Outreach. “Being with family in nature without screens and distractions is a foundation for great memories you can draw on later on. Families will have a range of activities to do, with flexibility and downtime activities around gratitude. [It’s] at your own pace. Around campfires, sharing stories and having guided discussions about goals can really impact people in a beneficial way.” Noting that the ranch “is not a therapeutic retreat,” on-site staff will be trained to support families with their needs, in conjunction with a suite of Navy SEAL resources that already exist.
Inspiration for this project is rooted in the life and values of Charles Keating IV, a Navy SEAL beloved by his family, friends, and community. Affectionately and interchangeably known as Charlie, Chuck, and C4, he lived for his family and cherished his friends, always finding ways to make them laugh and enjoy life – outdoors, as much as possible.
He often frolicked in the desert and the ocean – and in the rainforest as a teenager – and found endless sources of adventure. An avid waterman, he surfed, plunged into the bay for morning dips, and went spear-fishing and scuba diving.
On May 3, 2016, during his fourth combat deployment, Charlie was killed while fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Losing Charlie shook the Navy SEAL community in Coronado and throughout the United States. His family and friends worked diligently and deliberately to create a legacy that honors what Charlie honored most: family and fun in nature, away from the pressures and uncertainties of life.
Shared close friend and Coronado lifeguard Ian Urtnowski of the C4 Foundation’s ranch, “It’s cool to see the potential manifest to the present…I think [Charlie] would be extremely proud. He’s never been a spotlight guy. He was a larger than life guy. I hope that each individual person decompresses, that their family decompresses [here]. If we can pave the way, we’ll succeed. This is the end of just the first chapter. It’s a labor of love.”