Black Butte Lake park ranger teaches water safety to Operation Military Kids campers
MILL CREEK, Calif. -- Black Butte Lake park ranger Holly Myers teaches campers water safety Monday, July 20 at the Tehama County 4-H Club's Camp Tehama. Through a partnership between California 4-H and Operation Military Kids, a U.S. Army program to support youth with deployed parents, 14 kids from military families are attending the week-long summer camp free of charge. "Although I am not a Soldier, I am still a part of the Army family," Myers said. "It was very rewarding for me to represent the Army Corps of Engineers to these children, and hopefully to give them a sense that we are all in this together."

MILL CREEK, Calif. -- Black Butte Lake park ranger Holly Myers didn't know which of the kids she was teaching water safety had parents who are deployed - and that was the point.

Myers was visiting the Tehama County 4-H Club's Camp Tehama Monday, July 20 to teach campers proper life jacket wear, where it's safe to swim and how to help someone who is drowning.

The University of California 4-H Youth Development Program is one of many civilian organizations across the country that partner with Operation Military Kids, a U.S. Army program to support youth with deployed parents. Through the program, fourteen kids from military families were attending the week-long summer camp for free.

Camp Tehama is one of six 4-H summer camps in California working with Operation Military Kids to help military youth cope with the challenges of a parent's deployment, said California 4-H Military Program representative, Jeanne Christenson.

"It's nice for the military kids because they don't stand out amongst the other kids, they just kind of blend in," Christenson said. "With all the pressures that come with having a parent deployed, it lets them just be a kid again."

Christenson said the value of Operation Military Kids is evident in the way the kids talk about it. "One boy said to me, 'I really like being here. It makes me not miss my dad so much,'" she recalled. "That's what this is all about."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has encouraged its park rangers nationwide to support the program.

Myers had previously presented a program at Camp Tehama on the natural history of the area, including Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Lassen Peak's massive eruption in 1915. But with campers scheduled to visit a nearby creek the next day, she thought a water safety lesson would be more helpful, she said. She also appreciated the chance the give back to military families.

"Although I am not a Soldier, I am still a part of the Army family," Myers said. "It was very rewarding for me to represent the Army Corps of Engineers to these children, and hopefully to give them a sense that we are all in this together."

Page last updated Wed July 22nd, 2009 at 19:57