By Samantha B. Koss (Fort Carson)May 17, 2012
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Soldiers partnered with schools through the Adopt-A-School program invited their students to Fort Carson for a camp day at Ironhorse Park May 11.
The camp gave 200 kindergarten through fifth-grade students an opportunity to see what it's like to be a Soldier for a day. Students moved between 12 stations where they learned lifesaving techniques from Army medics, tried on combat gear and climbed in military vehicles.
"This camp gives the students a chance to see what kinds of things Soldiers do, where they work and see what it takes to be a Soldier," said Margaret McCormick, lead of school support service, which partners students and units through the Adopt-A-School program.
Units sponsor local schools through this program and Soldiers mentor, tutor and become role models for the students. It also gives Soldiers an opportunity to give back to the community.
"The kids are excited to try on our gear, and I like teaching them about it," said Staff Sgt. Barrie Maken, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, who explained what each piece of his gear does. "I think they really just want to play with the gear, not listen to me lecture about it."
Maken and his battle buddies helped students don Kevlar helmets and bulletproof vests while their teachers took pictures. The students eagerly waited in line to see what it feels like to be a Soldier.
"The kids run up to (the Soldiers) when they visit … they are always glad to see them," McCormick said. "It has been a positive experience all the way around."
Some Soldiers help by tutoring their students in math and science while others join them in the school cafeteria as lunch buddies.
"It depends on what help the school needs," McCormick said. "And how much time the unit can give … some Soldiers even come on their own."
The Adopt-A-School program has grown to include 37 Fort Carson units who are partnered with 35 schools. The students were picked to attend the camp, most of whom have someone close to them in the military. This is the second year Fort Carson hosted the camp.
"It was such a big hit last year we decided to do it again," McCormick said. "They learn all the different areas of the Army here, and then the teachers tie it back into the classroom."
Not only is the camp day an opportunity for students to learn about the Army, but it also gives them a chance to think about the Army as a career.
"Some of these children have never been on a post before," McCormick said. "And for the ones who have deployed parents, it's a chance to see what their parents do."
The students learned about road-building equipment, played tug of war with their teachers and watched military working dog demonstrations.
"They are having a great time, it is awesome," said Megan Oleson, fifth-grade teacher at Aragon Elementary School in Fountain. "(The students) benefit greatly from having these positive role models."