Come catch the magic: Camp Adventure comes to Fort Wainwright
June 30, 2011
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Fort Wainwright Families enrolled in Child and Youth Services programs may see some unfamiliar faces at summer programs here.
Child, Youth and School Services has invited Camp Adventure Child and Youth Services to Fort Wainwright youth and welcomes local families to come out and experience what they are have to offer.
Camp Adventure has been providing youth recreation programs since 1985 and is headquartered at the University of Northern Iowa, with satellite training locations throughout the United States. Here at Fort Wainwright they are an addition to the CYSS summer programs already planned.
“They are supplementing with new ideas, boosting morale in a sense, the energy that they bring in makes the environment more positive, more appealing,” said Rizza Asuncion, CYS Services coordinator. “(They) give the staff on-the-job training, give them new ideas.”
She was familiar with the program because of her work at other military installations and introduced the program to Fort Wainwright because of staffing issues. “I could see the stress on the managers’ faces and the stress on the staff itself.”
“When the hiring freeze happened we were not able to fill a lot of our positions so (military spouses) were very stretched. We had interns come to help with that. Even if we fill our positions, we still need them in a sense because we still have block leave, redeployment, R & R, and those things go on until all the Soldiers are home,“ she said.
According to its 2011 press release, the program is currently providing camp programs and services for all branches of the military, serving more than 10,000 children each day in 2010.
There are 20 Camp Adventure interns assigned to Fort Wainwright for the summer program June 9 to August 19. They complete an extensive training program at their home location before being assigned to their post. Each installation then provides additional training specific to that location so they can meet local standards.
Amber Mitchell is entering her senior year at the University of Toledo and hopes to become a school psychologist. This is her third year as a Camp Adventure counselor. She said she signed up for the program because she enjoys working with kids and traveling.
“We create magical moments that last a lifetime,” Mitchell said. “For the kids, there are always things that may be going on at home, but once they come into Camp Adventure, we want them to forget that.”
“My first summer was a life-changing summer. I helped a lot of kids,” she said. “A lot of them came out of their shell and a lot of them were under a lot of stress and had other issues. It was fun to see them grow throughout the summer.”
Tamina Johnson is not a typical Camp Adventure intern. She has a master’s degree in chemistry, is returning to school for her doctorate this fall and before she came here she was doing cancer research. She said she “just wanted a change of pace, wanted to learn about kids.”
“What we do here at Camp Adventure is really awesome. We come here, take care of military children; I think it is great we are able to be a support system. I would like to help them in some type of way.”
Both women said the program is very selective, looking for a quality person and that they had to undergo a rigorous screening and training process.
Terry Duncan, Youth Center director, is excited to have the Camp Adventure team at Fort
“They are bringing new and updated ideas - new fun ideas that we can incorporate into what we are doing. It is always good to have new people coming in, especially when they are enthusiastic and it just kind of breathes new life into what we are doing and we are always up for that. “
“This group leaves mid-August,” she said, “but new Camp Adventure staff will be here throughout the year until the deployment is over. We hope that once they are gone the programming ideas will stick with us after they have gone.“
“They are here to help us promote programming, help with staffing, to ease the burden on some of our employees, because of the deployment schedule, “she said. “Because the majority of the base is deployed, and we have several of our employees who are spouses of deployed Soldiers, so just to ease the burden. So that they would be able to go on block leave and other activities that are for spouses of deployed soldiers. “
The Youth Center plans “an increase in activities to make it exciting and fun” because of the Camp Adventure counselors.
“We are still in the planning stages. We have things based on some of the big summer movie blockbusters: Harry Potter festival, Transformers festival. We are doing field trips all over: Chena River raft trip, rock-wall climbing, laser tag, using a lot of the facilities on base like the swimming pool.”
“We are also going to Denali National Park to go white-water rafting. We are going hiking. We are planning to do a lot of different things. We are going to do different activities: art, fitness, social,” Duncan said. “We will have tournaments, like pool table tournaments, ping pong tournaments, video game tournaments, everything. A lot of competition, because teenagers like competition. We are trying to gear in to what teenagers like to do.”
“I can’t wait to see” (what Camp Adventure counselors will add to planned programs) said Jordan Lewis, School Age Services director. “They are coming in and getting us pumped up,” he said. “They are getting the kids pumped up, the staff pumped up.”
“They are going to bring in some new ideas. It will give our staff a break.” Asuncion said. “Our children and youth can benefit from the different activities the interns bring. I would love to hear the children moving, singing and reciting rhymes. I would love to see our teens having a positive experience. I would hope that everyone will forget for a moment their stressors and simply have a fabulous day!"