Aug. 14, 2009

4th annual Youth Summer Camp held at Virginia Beach

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Nearly 80 children spent a week at Camp Pendleton State Military Reservation Aug. 2-7 for fun in the sun as well as educational classes designed to help them cope with the day-to-day struggles unique to children of service members at the fourth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp.

  2009 Youth Camp

A youth camp participant takes part in a first aide class at the Virginia National Guard Youth Camp Aug. 3 at the State Military Reservation. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The 75 Virginia Guard children and four Reservists’ children, ages 8-12, spent the week as if they were at any summer camp. They spent their afternoons going to the beach, playing with their friends, and even learning first-aid, according to Dana Ivory, state youth coordinator.

The children woke up early every morning and got ready for the day. At 7:45 they held a flag ceremony and then they would go enjoy breakfast. Following the morning meal the children and the 11 junior volunteers (13-14 years old) and the teen leaders (15-17 years old) would attend three, one hour long classes.

The classes were focused on helping the children of military families cope with issues the average child would not typically face. They attended classes discussing deployments and reintegration. This year was unique because the staff brought in a few Military Life Counselors to assist in the classes and answer any questions the campers may have had about their loved-one’s professions and how they affected them, according to Vickie Sais, state family program director.

The camp was not all lectures and classrooms though. The youngsters were given plenty of time to let their hair down and have some fun. Some of the classroom time included a lesson on beach creatures presented by the Virginia Aquarium, as well as a presentation from the Virginia Air and Space Museum. The children were even given a presentation by the Virginia Drug Demand and Reduction unit.

  2009 Youth Camp

Tug of war was one of the many team-building activities that took place at the Virginia National Guard Youth Camp Aug. 3 at the State Military Reservation (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

After classes were finished each day, the kids participated in scheduled day trips. Included in the day trips were opportunities to visit Busch Gardens theme park, Ocean Breeze Water Park and a trip to a local laser tag venue, according to Ivory.

After returning from the day trips and finishing dinner, the youths partook in team building activities and the occasional game of kickball before heading to their bunks for lights out.

While the children were at camp they were afforded many opportunities to have fun, but they were also given a chance to spend some time with kids their own age who face similar experiences based on the unique bonds they share because of what their parents do for a living.

“The camp brings geographically dispersed youth together and provides them the forum to communicate and interact with one another in a safe environment,” said Ivory. “The camp is important to the kids because it allows them to interact with kids who understand what it is like to have a parent in the Guard.”

“The Youth Summer Camp is important to me because it gives my young children, ages seven and 10, the ability to interact with other National Guard children, which given my geographical location, would not other wise be possible,” according to one National Guard parent. “From this interaction, my children are able to learn skills to cope with all phases of deployment from a child’s and family’s perspective” 

“I also know that my children, along with learning vital skills, will also have lots of fun and make new friends.” 

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