• With a yank of the yellow cord, Tory Stephens surrenders himself to gravity as he releases the pulley that has him suspended in the air. With one quick tug, he sets sail through the air swinging from tree top to tree top. Stephens, and many other military youth, experienced the thrill of the giant swing during the Alabama National Guard's 2010 military youth camp.

    Swing

    With a yank of the yellow cord, Tory Stephens surrenders himself to gravity as he releases the pulley that has him suspended in the air. With one quick tug, he sets sail through the air swinging from tree top to tree top. Stephens, and many other...

  • Wyatt Watkins, of Montgomery, Ala., anticipates the cold chill of the lake water as he is catapulted off the aqua-tramp and into the air. Watkins and many other military youth enjoyed the thrill of the aqua-tramp at the Alabama Guard's youth camp held at the 4-H Center in Columbiana, Ala.

    Aqua-tramp

    Wyatt Watkins, of Montgomery, Ala., anticipates the cold chill of the lake water as he is catapulted off the aqua-tramp and into the air. Watkins and many other military youth enjoyed the thrill of the aqua-tramp at the Alabama Guard's youth camp held...

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Army News Service, July 7, 2010) -- Challenges such as a parent deploying can cause overwhelming stress for a child and some family readiness groups have found a way to provide support with fun -- summer camp.

So far this summer the Alabama Guard, in conjunction with Operation Military Kids, has conducted two camps for its military youth with another scheduled for the first week of August.

Although fun is the key ingredient to these camps, overcoming challenges and developing team-building skills are also key. At this year's Fort Camp Clover, held at the Alabama 4-H center in Columbiana, Ala., military youth were exposed to such challenges as caving, rock climbing, canoeing, archery, a giant body swing and a 30-foot cable course with a zip line.

Army Youth Development/4H Program specialist Paul Morton said overcoming such challenges make for resilient youth.

"When a child accomplishes something they never thought possible, it empowers them to take on more challenges, the ones they want and the ones they don't."

Morton said that it is also important to expose these kids to other youth who understand the hardships of having a parent in the military.

"These kids are tough," said Morton. "They're much more mature than their peers; they have a unique ability to roll with the punches of life and come out unscathed."

Another noble quality these kids possess is tolerance, said Staff Sgt. Doug Howard, a volunteer counselor for the 2010 Fort Camp Clover.

"I have three children, two of which attended this year's camp, and I know firsthand how cruel kids can be to those they see as different and I am truly impressed with the way these kids, these military kids, have accepted each other as equals." Howard said that he never saw one incidence of bullying or excessive teasing from any of the youth at camp. "It's a true testament to their character."

Page last updated Mon July 12th, 2010 at 15:42