Family Camp helps keiki cope
February 22, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Twenty-five Army families affected by deployments socialized and relaxed at a recreational camp located on the island's North Shore, Feb. 4-6.
Known as the Operation Military Kids, or OMK, Family Camp, the camp is part of a 4-H Club/Army Youth Development Project.
Through a network of community partners, OMK provides youth program opportunities for school-age children and teenaged youth, and connects them to support resources where they live.
OMK trains camp staff in military culture, resilience in kids and understanding the unique issues facing military youth. The camp's staff members are from Kosovo, Japan, Greece, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, India, England, Australia and New Zealand.
Jen Dickenson, OMK staff member, asked a group of 9- to 12-year-olds how they felt about being a military youth. The youth collectively replied, "Stressed, sad, anxious, scared, worried, emotional, terrified, proud, brave and awesome."
OMK also funds most of the camp's cost, making the camp affordable for Army families.
The camp provides food, lodging, camp staffing and activities, like arts and crafts.
"I made some cards for my dad, and I will send them to him in Iraq," said Emily Hill, 7.
Jeremy Hirai, 8, whose dad is deployed to Afghanistan, said that his favorite activities were archery shooting and swimming.
During the Clover Club's musical chairs activity for 6- to 8-year-olds, one of the younger children couldn't locate a chair and would've been disqualified. However, Jaydan Burgos, 8, gave up his chair so the younger boy could continue with the game. Burgos' dad is deployed to Kuwait.
The camp isn't just for children.
Maj. Naomi Carrington, 30th Signal Battalion, 516th Signal Brigade, 311th Signal Command, enjoyed the alpine towers and giant swings with other adults present, while her children, ages 4 and 2, participated in activities in the keiki group. Their dad is presently deployed in Afghanistan.
Family Camp set for April
The next OMK Family Camp, scheduled for April 8-10, will focus on reintegration. Families with Soldiers returning from deployment within the past six months will have priority. Call 956-4125, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/4h/OMK/.