Thirty-one military children participated in a USO sponsored boot camp at U.S. Coast Guard Telecommunications Information Systems Command, Saturday.
The event gave military children, ages 12 to 17, a glimpse of what their parents went through when they joined the service, according to Shannon Rush, a program specialist with USO of Metropolitan Washington. Created in 2011, the boot camp has been presented four times, each time on a different military installation. It will now be offered four times a year, instead of twice a year.
Children learn about teamwork and discipline during the boot camp, Rush said.
"It is an opportunity for them to learn and kind of have a mentor for the day," she said. "The drill instructors push them but they are also teaching them. They are there to answer questions and give them helpful hints."
The children completed a series of sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks during a physical training session. They learned how to salute, march and stand at-attention.
Children also learned about military time before sampling standard Meals, Ready-to-Eat. In addition, they painted their faces and played a game of capture the flag.
Parents took photos while the children completed an obstacle course at the end of the event. The drill instructors also completed the obstacle course as a show of solidarity.
Marilyn Geer and her husband Maj. Scott Geer, a budget analyst, watched their children, Chris, 16, and Abigail, 17, participate in the boot camp. The Family lives on Fort Belvoir. Marilyn Geer said it felt great to see her children participate.
"This is a lot of fun for parents," she said. "Everybody should do this for their kids."
Abigail said that she learned not to challenge authority during the boot camp. She is considering joining the U.S. Air Force in the future and appreciated that the drill instructors helped everyone out.
"I guess the most difficult part was pushing through all of the exercise because this was way longer than gym," Abigail said.
Tejraj Kafley lives in Fort Belvoir housing and watched his step-son, Joshua Spraggins, 15, participate in the boot camp. His wife, Staff Sgt. Catrina Kafley, a human resources noncommissioned officer, works on Fort McNair. Joshua's brother Michael Turner, 10 and sister Paris Kafley, also watched the boot camp.
Tejraj Kafley said that he hopes his step-son learned a lot about discipline, courage and strength during the event.
"I haven't seen him in action like that," he said of his step-son. "I feel proud to see him in there."
Joshua said it was great to see his Family come out to support him.
"Once you go through the obstacle course, you might tighten up your abs and stuff," he said. "You might tighten up your thighs. At the end of the day, it is a good workout."