LORETTO, Min.- Forward Operating Base Fun was on high alert for 80 Army Reserve campers attending an Army Reserve Youth Enrichment Camp at Camp Ihduhapi here in late June.

This Forward Operating Base, also known as an FOB, was more of an amusement park than a secured military position used to support tactical operations.

Army Reserve Child, Youth and School Services organized this week long camp for Army Reserve families. The camp caters to youth ages 8-14 years old.

Soldiers from the 88th Regional Support Command's Soldier Readiness Processing Detachment, the 372nd Engineer Brigade and Recruiting Command banded together to establish a fun tactical operation in support of Military Day at the camp.

The Soldiers assisted the campers in a day of relay races, obstacle courses, drill and ceremony, a scavenger hunt and more. Military Day also gave the campers an opportunity to interact with Warrior Citizens and get an understanding of what their moms, dads or relatives do on their one weekend a month battle assembly or deployment.

These Army Reserve Soldiers were called upon to strategically plan a fun offensive for Military Day because two weeks out from the big day the planners had suffered some setbacks and FOB Fun almost became FOB Bust.

Brian W. Sokolowsky, community outreach specialist for Army Reserve Child, Youth and School Services in Vancouver, Wash, was suddenly given the mission. A couple weeks out, 35 of the 100 camper slots were filled and no one had been assigned the Military Day mission.

Sokolowsky reached out to Lt. Col. Mitch A. DeMarais, commander of the 88th Regional Support Command's Soldier Readiness Processing Detachment, because his two daughters were signed up to attend the camp. Sokolowsky asked if he could help with the military day.

DeMarais said yes and turned to two subject matter experts...his two daughters, veteran Camp Ihduhapi campers...for advice and included them in on the planning stages.

Addison, 11, and Bailey DeMarais, 12, from Monticello, Minn. discussed what they did the year before and made some suggestions. This is the third year Bailey DeMarais had attended the Army Reserve Youth Enrichment Camp at Camp Ihduhapi.

"I love this camp. It's actually my favorite camp. It's really fun, great activities great counselors and you get to meet new people," said Bailey DeMarais.

Lt. Col. DeMarais placed Master Sgt. Joseph J. Devine and Sgt. Ivy N. Toogood in the role of noncommissioned officer in charge of fun and planners for the event.

"By the time it became official that we were going to be able to take this mission, we had a week to brainstorm activities," said Toogood.

Toogood majored in Family Social Science with a minor in Youth Studies. Currently she is an activated Human Resources Specialist with the detachment. In her civilian life she worked at the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation.

"It's great to be able to merge my civilian job with the Army Reserve and it was very touching to see all the support we got in a limited time from all the Army Reserve contributors," said Toogood.

"The duties of the NCOIC, also known as a noncommissioned officer in charge, of fun is to walk around with a water pistol and squirt kids if they are not having fun. So, if I find a kid who has his hands in his pockets and looks like they are just hanging out, I squirt them," said Devine.

Before any camper was squirted Devine and Toogood gave all campers the fun rules of engagement with a practical demonstration. Devine posted as a demonstrator. Toogood blasted Devine with water in the face while he had his hands in his pockets.

Spencer M. Bierfrund, 13, from Curtis, Neb. said she went to an Army Reserve Youth Enrichment Camp last year and enjoys this year more.

"I came back because it's fun. I like meeting new people,"she said. "I had a great time. I will always remember the obstacle course and making the blankets and then making the cards for the Soldiers overseas," said Lillian G. Wibe, 11, from Newhall, Iowa.

"The day (Military Day) was interestingly unique," said Anna V. Scribner, age 11, from Clinton, Wis. Scribner also said Military Day had cool activities and was the best day of the week.

"This is my thought: the dividend will be when these kids turn 18 or 19 and they say 'you know I got to do a cool thing when I was a kid because my dad was in the Army Reserve.' So when they think about what they want to be or do in life they are going to think 'I'm going to give the Army Reserve some serious consideration. They did an incredible thing for me when I was a kid'," said Sokolowsky.

Army Reserve Child Youth and School Services is hosting 17 Army Youth Enrichment Camps all over the United States and one in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands.

For more information on these camps, check out the following website.


No campers were harmed in the instant they received suppressive water fire.