FORT MEADE, Md. (March 4, 2013) -- Eco bots, NASA launch activities and several other science experiments were on the menu during a day-long camp held March 2, for Army Reserve youth here.
Hosted by the 200th Military Police Command's Child, Youth and School Services staff and organized by a local 4-H organization, more than a dozen youth spent the jam-packed Saturday wrapped up in science experiments as their fathers and mothers participated in the monthly battle assembly weekend.
While 200th Military Police Command, or MPCOM, Soldiers reported to the morning's first formation, the youth were busy getting their name tags and learning about the other Reserve youth who would soon be their newest friends.
Maj. Gen. Sanford Holman, commanding general of the 200th MPCOM, a command that has more than 14,000 Soldiers and their family members spread across 44 states, said having a successful family program is a key component of the Army Reserve family.
"Our families may not physically stand in our formations during battle assembly weekend, but they are definitely a part of our formations across this command," he said. "My wife and I know the importance of ensuring our families are informed about the resources and tools available to them to succeed before, during and after deployments."
As the Soldiers cleared the area after a brief morning formation, the room was transformed into a large science center, and the first order of business was to separate the youth into smaller groups -- ensuring siblings were matched with people they didn't know.
Deadra Martin, the 200th MPCOM's Child, Youth and Social Services coordinator, said separating families was important because sometimes siblings will cling to each other.
"We want them to get to know other Army Reserve youth and make new friends," she said.
Two brothers, Jack and Logan Maroclo, who were nearly attached at the hip, quickly adapted and made new friends and seemed to quickly forget about each other.
After an hour of science experiments, 7-year-old Jack Maroclo ran up to a staff member and shouted, "I am having the best time here!"
With a smile and a pat on his short blonde hair that spiked in the front, the 4-H volunteer quickly got him back to his waiting team members to finish a project.
That continued excitement was visible throughout the room as small teams of youth began talking and learning about each other while creating small make-shift robots from a toothbrush, small motor and a watch battery.
Jessica Crawford, the Family Readiness Group leader for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 200th MPCOM, smiled from a corner chair as she watch the young family members became more engaged with each other as each new experiment was introduced by the 4-H staff.
"We want them to feel comfortable and be able to explore their creativity with the sciences," she said about the day camp. "We don't need electronics to keep them engaged, and these activities here today seemed to be doing the job."
Crawford has spent the past several months working with her husband, Capt. Brandon Crawford, to create interactive experiences for families of the "Champion Command" headquarters.
She said being a part of the Army Reserve family is no easy task -- especially for the younger generations.
"We have to listen to our children," she said. "They are our future and possibly the Army Reserves' next leaders."
As the children sat down for lunch provided by the local American Legion Auxiliary, the higher volume of chatter filled the air as new friends a few hours prior were now best friends.
"Will you be here next month," asked one boy to another.
"Heck yeah, I will," said another boy. "We better tell our dads to bring us here again. I didn't know he had this much fun when he plays Army."
As lunch finished and the kids spent some time outside playing kick ball, jump rope and other playground games, the bonding of Army Reserve friends was clearly noticeable.
"We couldn't ask for anything more," Jessica said. "We have to inspire our children to be the best, and what better role models than a parent in the Army Reserve and a supportive spouse."
After lunch, the youth engaged on more science experiments to include snow, germ glow and marbles. The fun-packed afternoon ended on a quiet note as campers designed posters on what it means to be a military youth.
"We want them to walk away knowing they are not alone and there others just like them," said Jessica. "They may go to a school where they are the only military child, but being here, they know that the person sitting across the table is going through the same types of situations with a parent in the Army Reserve."
Holman said military families must recognize that their children matter and have a voice.
"Communication is one of the major components to a successful family," he said. "It doesn't just apply to our Army Reserve families, but our neighbors and communities too."
Jessica said the 200th MPCOM is a community and families must lean toward each other as a bigger family.
"In today's Army, our husbands and wives are called upon to do more with less," she said. "Our future is uncertain but very bright. The Army Reserve has many resources and tools to help families be successful. I wish more people would just take the time to explore the many options open to them as members of the Army Reserve."