By Army Community Service, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and RecreationAugust 1, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii, Aug. 3, 2011 -- Drivers heading toward Camp Erdman in Waialua, Hawaii, July 15-17, might have seen military youth dangling 25 feet in the air from a giant swing.
Through a partnership between Survivor Outreach Services, or SOS, and Operation Military Kids, or OMK, two very special groups of children and their families came together during the weekend for a summer retreat.
They were the children of wounded warriors or children who had lost a parent or sibling during active duty service.
Jennifer Koranyi, support coordinator, SOS, and Dr. Brandi Chew, psychologist, Army Community Service, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation - U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, coordinated the camp through OMK.
“This is a unique camp,” Koranyi said. “As far as I know, this is the first camp of its kind that SOS and OMK have ever done.
“Our goal was to provide a fun atmosphere that fostered resiliency in these special kids,” she said. “They have all been through so much, and to bring them out to have fun and celebrate their resiliency -- it was just awesome.”
The camp curriculum offered activities such as archery, a climbing wall, swimming, the Odyssey Tower course, the Alpine Tower, a crab hunt on the beach and s'mores by the campfire.
“The Odyssey Tower was a life-changing experience for me,” said Eliane Evers, a spouse of an Army wounded warrior. “It changed my mentality. I realized I could do it.”
Seeds of Love, a program offered by the nonprofit organization Kids Hurt Too, gave children a chance to plant a flower in a special pot they could take home with them.
An expressive arts session, designed specifically for the two groups of children, was also available and led by Dr. Beth Yano, with the Child and Family Psychology Department at Tripler Army Medical Center.
The FOCUS Project, or Families OverComing Under Stress, also hosted a parent workshop.
Campers had the option of attending a yoga class with certified instructor Beverly Tate or a music-and-movement session with the Armed Services YMCA.
“I enjoyed the different activities and the time spent bonding with my kids,” said Gilberto Pompa, Directorate of Information Management, USAG-HI.
SOS is an Army program that falls under Army Community Service. It provides outreach to families and friends who have lost a Soldier. The SOS Center “Halia Aloha” is located at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
OMK is a part of the 4-H/Army Youth Development Project, and it provides youth programs and opportunities for military children, while connecting them to local support resources.
For information on SOS, call ACS at (808) 438-9285. To learn more about OMK, call (808) 956-4125.