By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison KaiserslauternJanuary 3, 2012
LANDSTUHL, Germany (Jan. 3, 2011) -- Teens at U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, Germany, took part in a variety of excursions over winter break thanks to a fun Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.
Highlights of the winter adventure camp, a Child, Youth & School Services activity held at Landstuhl's youth center, included skiing in France and shopping in Strasbourg, Germany.
"It's been a busy two weeks," said Vicki Brown, the center's program supervisory specialist, as she checked on the bus to the camp's final trip to Mannheim's planetarium
For many teens, waiting for the bus meant sharing songs on iPods or handheld video games. Others played table tennis, pool, air hockey and Foosball. A few quietly read. Some teens simply gathered on couches to share laughs and pet Dallas, Brown's fluffy dog.
Roughly 60 children signed up for camp this winter, roughly double the amount of last year, Brown said. And parents are already asking about the summer program.
Steve Pelletier, director of U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's FMWR program, credits the success to the employees of CYSS, who put together unique programs and get the words out to children and parents.
"That is pretty amazing," Pelletier said. "In 17 years, we have never had 60 kids sign up for a winter camp."
Pelletier said improving activities for young people came up as a concern during the Army Family Action Plan conference -- where people submit ideas to the command to make their community better. The program also supports ideals from the Army Family Covenant, which includes a promise to ensure excellence in child, youth and school services.
For some children, like Landstuhl Middle School student Kimberly Carr, trips to foreign countries are not all that unusual. Carr, 13, whose father serves in the Air Force, spent much of her life in Germany and hardly remembers living in America, she said.
Staying home during break leads to boredom, Carr said. Instead, she shopped in Strasbourg's sidewalk markets beside the city's famous cathedral -- spending the 20 euros her mother gave her on a new pair of gloves and food with friends.
"We can see a lot of different places here," Carr said. "There's a lot of history in Europe."
For Sara Syarto, 15, a Kaiserslautern High School sophomore, the camp offered a chance to enjoy time with friends and more, she said.
"It's the fact that I've been to places that people in America may never have been to," Syarto said. "That's really quite amazing."