By Julie Fiedler, Fort Riley Public AffairsAugust 9, 2013
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- As campers took to the stage, dancing to "Thriller," "Kung Fu Fighting" and even original rap songs, another year closed on School Age Services Camp during the Big Red Fun Summer Jam finale Aug. 2 at the Middle School Teen Center gym.
Each group of campers gave themselves a nickname and performed a variety of numbers. The Big Cats, who were dressed like monsters with claws made of construction paper, danced the "Monster Pokey," a version of the "Hokey Pokey." The Green Great Soldiers did an interpretive jam to a techno beat. Team Swagger surprised the audience with mascots bursting from behind a sign during their dance.
The performance was "very, very cute," said Warrant Officer 1 Jacob Penman, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, whose daughter performed with Team Swagger. "She's been excited about this all week. She wanted to surprise us with what they were doing, so she's been really quiet about it, but she's been like very, very excited at home."
The Penman Family arrived at Fort Riley in May, and the camp provided his daughter with an opportunity to make friends and stay active during the summer, Penman said.
"She definitely needed it," he said. "She needs to be around a bunch of kids her age. She's very social."
Children had the opportunity to pick their songs and plan their performances, said Michelle Rohs, counselor and lead program assistant, Child, Youth and School Services.
"It worked out really well. The kids loved doing the dance. It was really fun for me at least," said Rohs, whose group chose to do a kickboxing-inspired performance to "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas because they were interested in ninjas and dragons.
"You couldn't ask for a better place to put your kids during the summer," said Victoria Meinhardt-Hall, administrative assistant, CYSS, whose son Tyler Meinhardt, 9, has been coming to camp since he was in kindergarten.
"He goes every summer and he enjoys it every time," Meinhardt-Hall said. "He really looks forward to the group activities."
At the program's conclusion, School Age Center Director Lorraine Brown recognized the staff members for their hard work and dedication.
"They make sure that your children have a great day. So put your hands together because we can't do it without them," Brown told parents to resounding applause. "We thank you for allowing us to create real memories with your children."
The finale capped off a day full of activities like crafts, water balloon games, dance games, snacks, hands-on emergency vehicle demonstrations and a barbecue for Families.
"We had so much stuff going on today. It was crazy, but it was a lot of fun," said Taylor Thompson, SAS intern, who helped organize the day's events as her final project. "We all just wanted the last day for the kids to be a big one and for them to leave camp with a lot of energy and ready to go back to school and having something to really remember at the end of the summer. It was a really great day."
As Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" played over the loudspeakers after the finale, campers and parents looked for one another in the gymnasium. The time had come to bid farewell to camp, head home and start preparing to go back to school.