Summertime is all about spending time with friends, having fun and making new memories – just what Operation: Military Kids (OMK) does through their summer camps.
Operation Military Kids is a nonprofit program provided through a partnership between the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Army National Guard and Reserve. OMK supports military youth and families across the country by creating support networks and delivering recreational, social and educational programs.
“I enjoy getting to meet new, different people and going different places,” Nathaniel Hust says, who attended Camp Fort Clover last year. Hust is a high school senior from Elmore County and his family is in the Army National Guard.
New people and places are just two things military youth get the opportunity to experience at camp. The youth are also given the chance to grow leadership and teamwork skills while building life-long relationships.
“The camps are a way for youth to make new friends who understand what they are going through as a military child,” Rachel Simpson, the OMK coordinator for Alabama, says. “It gets them out of their comfort zone and gives them the opportunity to form a network of support with military youth living in Alabama.”
Operation Military Kids offers three summer camps that provide youth the opportunity to meet new people and build friendships: Camp Fort Clover, Dauphin Island Camp and a Reconnection Camp.
Camp Fort Clover
Camp Fort Clover is an annual camp where youth spend time with others while participating in their choice of activities including archery, swimming, sailing and climbing.
Hust adds the experiences gained are unforgettable and he hopes to attend more camps in the future. “The teamwork activities were really fun, and I would want to go on more trips.”
Dauphin Island Camp
Dauphin Island Camp has recently made its return to OMK’s summer camp scene. Simpson says it was a great success. “It’s another opportunity to strengthen bonds between our military youth and foster positive relationships. Our goal is to help them build their resilience, so they can succeed in all of life’s challenges.”
Dauphin Island Camp allows the youth to experience a four-day adventure filled with tours of the National Aviation Museum, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, USS Alabama Battleship and Coast Guard Unit.
The youth also get to experience watching the Blue Angels fly out, touch and explore marine life, enjoy local restaurants and leisure time on the island.
This year’s final OMK adventure took military families to New Orleans via Amtrak trains for a Reconnection Camp, allowing families time to do just that – reconnect.
“The trip is for military youth and their recently returned service member to share new experiences together and have bonding time,” Simpson says.
The family trip included a community garden service project, a riverboat ride and a tour of the National World War II Museum along with free time for families to spend together and make new memories.
For more information about OMK, visit operationmilitarykids.org. For questions about the application process, contact Simpson at 334-844-2294 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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