By Sgt. Mark MirandaAugust 9, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.--Chewing away happily at a piece of snack bread covered in Sloppy Joe meat sauce, six year old Ashley Moore digs through the rest of the contents of a Meal Ready-to-Eat package.
“It’s so good…and it has Tabasco sauce! Can you put it all on for me?” Ashley asked her mother, Spc. Elizabeth Moore, a human resources specialist with Special Troops Battalion, 593rd Sustainment Brigade.
“You can tell this girl is from Louisiana, she wants hot sauce on everything,” said the elder Moore to the amusement of other children and Soldiers of 593rd participating in a Kids Boot Camp, Aug. 4.
Over 100 children participated in the Kids Boot camp, coordinated by the brigade’s Family Readiness Group.
“The idea was to bring in our Soldiers’ children to give them an idea of what mom and dad do when they go to work every day,” said Capt. Jason Tisdale, executive officer of 57th Transportation Battalion.
“We begin the day with physical readiness training, and the kids will have a chance to run through a complete session. To make it even more fun, we’ll teach them some drill and ceremony, put them through an obstacle course, let them eat MREs and learn about some of the weapon systems,” said Tisdale.
Children also had the opportunity to run through an urban orienteering course, see static displays of equipment including field showers, laundry machines and military vehicles.
“It was a lot of combined efforts to make this happen,” said Linda Custodio, 593rd Bde.’s Family Readiness Support Assistant. “We were happy that a lot of Soldiers volunteered for this to help make it a lot of fun. It’s good to provide these kids something different to do during summer vacation,” said Custodio.
Participants were broken down into eight different companies, each with their own mascot and shirts that matched the color of their guidons. Soldiers assigned as platoon leaders for each company encouraged friendly competition between each group and helped the children create company mottos for each.
“The three things we focused on were safety, fun, and being a good example " maybe the most important part of this is to show Soldiers as positive role models,” added Custodio.
Soldiers emphasized safety as the children became familiar with handling weapon systems including the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and the M2 .50 Caliber Weapon. Combat medics were on standby as a precaution and to ensure the children remained hydrated throughout the summer day.
“Five of my children are out here, and from the feedback I’ve gotten from them they’re having a great time. I don’t know if they had ever done a bear crawl to get from point A to point B before, but stuff like that; the overall experience of today is something they’re going to remember,” said Cpl. William Smoot, assigned to 295th Quartermaster Company.
The day would close out with a graduation ceremony where the participants received a certificate of completion for the Kids Boot Camp.
Ten-year-old Brandon Smathers, looking like a Soldier from head to toe in a kids-sized Army physical fitness uniform, made an impressive showing as he zig-zagged between cones at the start of the confidence course.
After high-stepping through vehicle tire obstacles, sprinting with ammunition cans and finishing the confidence course with a combat roll, he seemed unfazed by this test of physical endurance.
“I had a pretty good idea of what Soldiers did before, but today was a chance for me to learn more,” said Smathers.