August 14, 2008

Family Programs hosts summer youth camp

By Capt. Dayna Rowden
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Campers from the "red team" participate in a game of tug-of-war at the Virginia National Guard summer youth camp. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Nearly 70 dependent children or siblings of members the Virginia Army and Air National Guard, clad in brightly colored t-shirts, splashed and bobbed in the ocean off Camp Pendleton. These children enjoyed a week of fun in the sun at the 3rd annual Virginia National Guard summer camp held at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va., Aug. 3-8.

The camp, hosted by the Virginia National Guard Family Programs Office, provided children the opportunity to meet and play with other National Guard children.

Many of the children live in towns where they are the only military children, said Dana Ivory, a family programs assistant and coordinator of this year’s camp. At this camp, the children, some of whom have deployed parents, have the chance to meet other military kids.

Guardsmen from around the state volunteered to serve as counselors throughout the week. Soldiers from Drug Demand Reduction gave classes to the children and organized team games, including a tug of war.

The camp organizers planned many activities and trips for the campers. 

“This year was the first time we could let the kids swim in the ocean,” said Ivory. “We needed to get lifeguards, and this year we were able to hire two. The kids just love the water.”

National Guard campers run through an obstacle course on the beach at the Virginia State Military Reservation. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The campers raced up and down the beach through obstacles courses, built sand castles and rode the waves. Their giggles filled the air on Virginia Beach.

The campers also traveled to a local water park, laser tag and Busch Gardens. On the last night of the camp, they held a special pizza party to celebrate the week spent together.

Though the camp was designed for children ages 8-13, some pre-teens acted as junior counselors.

“These kids have really stepped up,” said Ivory. “They get to enjoy the camp and help out with the younger kids too.”

“This camp is a great way the Guard reaches out to the children and the families,” said Chief Warrant Officer Deborah Kidd, a family readiness program coordinator. “It’s a great chance for these kids to come out and have a great time together. I know I’m having a great time.”

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