By 2nd Lt. Lauren Looper, 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th Theater Sustainment CommandJune 20, 2012
YMCA Camp Erdman, Hawaii- It's not easy as a child when your mother or father is thousands of miles away fighting the Nation's wars for months at a time. In an effort to alleviate the stress and challenges that the children of deployed Soldiers' endure, the National Military Family Association runs Operation Purple summer camps.
The camps are a week long and are paid for with private donations. Children participate in crafts, outdoor activities and events that help them cope with their parents being deployed.
"It's a chance to bring the kids together and interact with kids who are facing similar things in their lives," said Andrew VanDerWege, the Hawaii YMCA's Senior Program Director. "They build friends, grow and work through some of the things they're facing."
The 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, helped facilitate Operation Purple at the YMCA Hawaii's Camp Erdman on June 6, 2012. The weeklong and one day camp consisted of a military field day where the 65th Eng. Bn., along with service members from the Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and other Schofield Barracks units provided a variety of interactive displays for the camp members.
The displays spanned YMCA's Camp Erdman located in scenic Mokuleia. Six of the Battalion's seven companies (the 95th Eng. Co. is in Afghanistan) participated.
The 7th Dive Detachment, 65th Eng. Bn., set up next to the pool and showed the children a video about Army divers. The detachment also showed how a hyperbaric stretcher works using plastic bottles.
Near the 7th Dive Detachment, the 70th Engineer Company (Geospatial), 65th Eng. Bn., deployed their DTSS Lights. Inside the tents, children learned about map making and geospatial computer programs. Each child left with a map of the North Shore.
Across the road, HHC, 65th Eng. Bn., ran the paintball station, one of the most popular lanes of the day. Soldiers from the company coached the children and served as safeties while they shot at targets from behind barriers.
The 34th Engineer Company (Sapper), 65th Eng. Bn., allowed the children to practice using the arm on their Buffalo to interrogate a fake IED.
The 82nd ESC, 65th Eng. Bn., taught the boys and girls to use a back hoe loader by practicing picking up and crushing wooden pallets.
The FSC, 65th Eng. Bn., brought out radios and the children got to practice communicating and sending reports.
2nd Lt. Michael Bowers, Safety Officer, HHC, 65th Eng. Bn., summarized the day by saying, "Operation Purple is a great way to let the kids know that they are part of the Army family even while their parents are deployed."