By Ms. Connie Summers (USAREUR)August 21, 2013
HAMMELBURG, Germany (Aug. 21, 2013) -- German and American military school children enjoyed a weeklong summer camp at the German army's Salleck Kaserne. While the school break program has had active participation by the Schweinfurt military community for the fourth time since 2008, it was the first for children and youth of U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach.
About 110 German and American third through 12th grade students took part in this year's summer camp and outdoor activities.
The intended goal was "to help military children learn to cope with the challenges of working together and getting things done," said Daniel Jones, a Child, Youth and School Services specialist, formerly with USAG Schweinfurt and now with USAG Ansbach. And, for the first time children of U.S. troops stationed at Storck Barracks and Ansbach also had that opportunity.
Jones organized the campout in close cooperation with Bundeswehr Soldiers from Hammelburg. He said that during the last three years, the program has grown into a "robust event, geared toward providing children with important life skills, like working together as a team to overcome challenges."
His counterpart with the Bundeswehr is 1st Lt. Ewald Full. Full is normally responsible for the smooth-running information technology operations at Salleck Kaserne. During the summer camp he is also an active volunteer.
"We aim to offer an unforgettable camp experience and an exciting week with lots of outdoor fun and adventures for each of the kids," said Full.
About 50 Germans and Americans volunteered their time to help ensure just that. On the outdoor agenda were activities such as rappelling, rope-climbing, archery and a scavenger hunt at the Trimburg Castle, a rafting tour on the Saale River, visiting a falconer and a nearby watermill, in addition to sports, games and arts and craft projects.
Another highlight was the barbecue Aug. 14 that was also organized by volunteers. Parents were invited, as were the deputy commander of the infantry school, German army Col. Hans Sahm, his family, and the new commander of USAG Ansbach, Col. Christopher M. Benson.
"Yes, the support is just tremendous," said Jones. "We have volunteers here around the clock. They [were] taking turns, providing guidance, oversight and mentorship to the kids, for each of the activities. … They were ensuring all the logistical needs were met, providing an invaluable service to Soldiers and their families."
"A lot of heart-blood and personal efforts, along with donations go into these projects," said Full. "That's why it is a good feeling to see these kids try new things and overcome obstacles, like the language barrier."
And then "there is certainly an educational aspect not to be underestimated," said Jones. "They discovered and learned about the importance of partnership and communication while trying new things."
What originally began as a one-day field-day activity at Schweinfurt's Kessler Field, sponsored by the CYSS for about 80 German and American children, developed into a full-fledged partnership, meeting twice a year, once in April during the Month of the Military Child and once in August for the summer camp, Jones said.
"We certainly hope to be able to organize another summer camp next year," said Jones.