By Michael StrasserApril 12, 2019
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 12, 2019) -- The Month of the Military Child theme is "Military Kids Can!," and a contingent of Fort Drum youths showed what they could do when given a gymnasium, an arsenal of Nerf toys and a group of 10th Mountain Division Soldiers for opponents.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team's 41st Brigade Engineer Battalion hosted a "Nerf Wars" event April 10 for brigade family members at Magrath Sports Complex. In addition to hours of foam warfare, children entertained themselves in a bounce house and snacked on popcorn and cotton candy.
"Our brigade is deployed right now so we have a lot of families with fathers or mothers who aren't here. We organized this event to show our support to them and to give the children something fun to do," said Capt. Se Yu, 41st BEB chaplain. "Also, while the children are playing we have invited several ACS (Army Community Service) agencies here to engage the parents and talk about the resources they offer."
The guns and ammo for the event was provided by Zach Collins, a clinical psychologist with 2nd BCT's behavioral health team, who amassed bins full of the toys from family members over the years.
While this event wasn't planned specifically for Month of the Military Child, Collins said it's demonstrative of how children are appreciated as active members of the 2nd BCT family.
"This is our way of giving kids a good excuse to have a great time in their own community. It's free, the Soldiers enjoy doing it and everyone gets to have fun," he said.
Steve Ferguson, Fort Drum Child and Youth Services youth program manager, said that more than 80 members and guests attended Teen Fun Night at the Youth Center on April 6 to kick off Month of the Military Child. It featured a dance session, basketball tournament, tie-dye crafts and inflatables.
"We have many daily programs and activities for Fort Drum youths, but this month we also have scheduled a lock-in and a youth leadership forum for Month of the Military Child," Ferguson said.
Operation Megaphone is an opportunity for Fort Drum teens to participate in the annual worldwide lock-in at the Youth Center, from 8 p.m. April 26 to 8 a.m. April 27. There is a cost involved, and a parent must sign a permission slip to register. Activities include dodgeball, basketball, a healthy grilled cheese challenge, video game tournament, arts and crafts, and movies.
At the same time, a youth leadership forum is scheduled both days from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for teens to discuss pertinent issues, form action plans and conduct a commander's brief.
Ferguson said that this program was originally designed by the Joint Services Teen Council, composed of youth leaders from all branches of service to collaborate with the intent of affecting change.
"During the lock-in, participants enjoy a variety of activities as well as having the opportunity to reach out to other youth programs to discuss issues and concerns affecting military teens," he said.
To find out what else is happening this month at the Youth Center, visit https://www.facebook.com/Fort-Drum-CYS-Youth-Program-Youth-Center-370723860409/.
Other youth activities during Month of the Military Child
* The USO at Fort Drum will celebrate Month of the Military Child with an ice cream social at 4 p.m. April 17. Children are invited to make their own ice cream sundaes and watch "Ralph Breaks the Internet."
* The Jefferson County 4-H is partnering with the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum Museum to present a fun-filled day of activities for military children. Families can visit the museum from 1 to 3 p.m. April 20 to explore history in several activity stations and participate in games for prizes. At the conclusion of the event, military children will receive their own challenge coin during a Month of the Military Child coin ceremony.
This event is free and open to military youths, ages of 5-18, with access to the installation.
* Military children are encouraged to participate in a Young Lives, BIG Stories" contest through U.S. Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation, by either writing an essay or submitting artwork related to the question "What does it mean to you to be a military child?" Entries are due by April 30. For details, visit
Ferguson said that it is important to recognize the sacrifices that military children make as a vital part of the Army team.
"Children of military service members are constantly in flux," he said. "Every few years, they leave the familiarity of a community, school and friends for the unknown. In addition to the constant transition from one military installation to another, youths also cope with the fact that a parent is often absent for nine months to a year at a time due to deployments. During deployments, older children often take on a larger role in the family by caring for younger siblings and assisting with household responsibilities normally shared by the parent."
Ferguson credits the Army's Teen Resiliency Program for helping military children, and Fort Drum CYS currently has four master resiliency trainers on staff.
"The resiliency programs are offered year round," he said. "Additionally, we are in the process of creating a 'Makerspace' in the Discovery Center facility. This offers a variety of equipment for youths, to include a 3-D printer, 3-D pens, air brush kits, Lego robotics and much more."