Aug. 8, 2011

6th annual National Guard Youth Summer Camp held in Virginia Beach

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen   
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. For the sixth year in a row, children of Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen spent the first week of August at Camp Pendleton, State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach engaging in fun and informative classes and activities during the Virginia National Guard Youth Summer Camp.

 

Children of Virginia Guardsmen attending the sixth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Summer Camp launch a rocket during a 4-H sponsored class Aug. 3 at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. The kids spent the first week of August making new friends, meeting up with old friends, and filling their days with fun and educational activities. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

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“This year at camp, we are doing a whole lot of fun stuff. We have our classes being taught ┬áby several great organizations like the Children’s Museum and the Air and Space Museum,” said Dana Ivory, state youth coordinator. “The Virginia Aquarium came out too, and we have representatives from the 4-H that have come out to do our campfires and teach some classes as well.”

Each morning the 60 eight-12 year old kids started the day with a flag ceremony and exercise before beginning the day’s activities. The Guard kids participated in a wide variety of activities, including arts & crafts, model rockets, fishing and classes on the dangers of substance abuse and healthy eating practices. The camp also went on several day trips to Busch Gardens, Ocean Breeze Water Park and a day at the beach.

“This is where all members of the Air Force and Army in the Virginia National Guard’s children can come together and we have a youth camp for them,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Henry Motley, Jr., 91st Troop Command CSM and a volunteer adult counselor. “It’s all about developing and team building for the kids.”

 

Staff Sgt. Douglas Perry from the Virginia Counterdrug Task Force shows children at the sixth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Summer Camp a lung contaminated from years of smoking Aug. 3 at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. The Counterdrug Task Force taught a class on the dangers of substance abuse during the camp. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

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In addition to the classes and the fun activities planned for the kids, the counselors also noted that the time the kids spend together is important for building relationships with other Guard families. Often times, when the parent of a Guard child deploys there are not many support services in place to help the children cope with the absence of a parent due to the unique nature of the National Guard and their geographic disbursement.

“It’s important because it keeps them connected and it helps them go through whatever issues they may be going through,” said Ivory. “I know we have a lot of kids here that represent the cavalry ┬áthat is deployed; we have some kids here from the aviation unit that is currently deployed, so it helps them make these connections with other kids, and they keep these connections year after year and they look forward to coming every year.”

The Summer Youth Camp brings the kids together once a year to show them that they are not alone.

“A lot of Soldiers and Airmen are deployed and some of the children are away from daddy; they’re away from their momma and this is one way they can get a chance to partner with the child of another Soldier and both of them can talk about their shared experiences,” said Motley.

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