By Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- More than 50 sons and daughters of Virginia National Guard troops from around the state participated in the first Virginia National Guard Summer Camp Aug. 7- 11 at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach.
“We want them to have fun but we also want them to develop resiliency for during deployments,” said Maj. Leslie C. Myers, the state family programs director. “About half of these kids have experienced their parents being deployed.”
The 52 participants were divided into two age groups- 8-12 years old and 13-16 years old.
During the weeklong camp they participated in everything from team building exercises and youth sports to responsibility and leadership training and “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs.” The campers learned about digital photography, how to create their own websites and how make a scrapbook.
Among the seminars they participated in were depression and suicide prevention, improving self esteem, solving conflicts and staying stress free, and “how deployments affect you.” They also got to travel to Ocean Breeze water park in Virginia Beach and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg.
“We originally had more than 120 kids interested in the camp,” Myers said. “So we hope to have even more participants next year.”
This is the first year for the National Guard Child and Youth Program in Virginia and Myers said they’ve had more and more kids at each event.
In the future, the goal is to expand the program and partner with other organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA and veteran service organizations. This way they can reach more and more children from National Guard families and, maybe in the future, expand to include children from other military families, such as Army and Air Force reservists in the state.