By Staff Sgt. Katrina F. TimmonsJuly 12, 2010
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Army News Service, July 7, 2010) -- Challenges such as a parent deploying can cause overwhelming stress for a child and some family readiness groups have found a way to provide support with fun -- summer camp.
So far this summer the Alabama Guard, in conjunction with Operation Military Kids, has conducted two camps for its military youth with another scheduled for the first week of August.
Although fun is the key ingredient to these camps, overcoming challenges and developing team-building skills are also key. At this year's Fort Camp Clover, held at the Alabama 4-H center in Columbiana, Ala., military youth were exposed to such challenges as caving, rock climbing, canoeing, archery, a giant body swing and a 30-foot cable course with a zip line.
Army Youth Development/4H Program specialist Paul Morton said overcoming such challenges make for resilient youth.
"When a child accomplishes something they never thought possible, it empowers them to take on more challenges, the ones they want and the ones they don't."
Morton said that it is also important to expose these kids to other youth who understand the hardships of having a parent in the military.
"These kids are tough," said Morton. "They're much more mature than their peers; they have a unique ability to roll with the punches of life and come out unscathed."
Another noble quality these kids possess is tolerance, said Staff Sgt. Doug Howard, a volunteer counselor for the 2010 Fort Camp Clover.
"I have three children, two of which attended this year's camp, and I know firsthand how cruel kids can be to those they see as different and I am truly impressed with the way these kids, these military kids, have accepted each other as equals." Howard said that he never saw one incidence of bullying or excessive teasing from any of the youth at camp. "It's a true testament to their character."