Teens enjoy outdoors at Va. Guard Youth Program’s Teen Wilderness Adventure Camp

Teen campers at the Virginia National Guard Teen Wilderness Adventure Camp prepare to go inner tubing down a river June 24, 2013 at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle, Va. The Virginia National Guard Youth Program partnered with Operation Military Kids to provide 60 children of Virginia National Guard service members four days of outdoor adventures June 23-27, including mountain biking, kayaking, inner tubes, ropes courses and zip lines. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Teen campers at the Virginia National Guard Teen Wilderness Adventure Camp prepare to go inner tubing down a river June 24, 2013 at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle, Va. The Virginia National Guard Youth Program partnered with Operation Military Kids to provide 60 children of Virginia National Guard service members four days of outdoor adventures June 23-27, including mountain biking, kayaking, inner tubes, ropes courses and zip lines. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

NEW CASTLE, Va. — More than 60 teenagers from around the state gathered June 23-27 for the Virginia National Guard’s sixth annual Teen Wilderness Adventure Camp at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle, Va.

The Virginia National Guard Youth Program partnered with Operation Military Kids for the camp, which provided children of Virginia National Guard service members four days of outdoor adventures, including mountain biking, kayaking, inner tubes, ropes courses and zip lines.

“This is our sixth year of doing Teen Wilderness Camp at WAEL,” said Drew Davis, lead child and youth coordinator with Virginia National Guard Family Programs. “We’re grateful that we are able to provide our families with this opportunity because it gave 61 teens a chance to completely ‘disconnect’ from whatever challenges they may have going on at home as well as any technology, social media, and cell phones.”

A teen camper at the Virginia National Guard Teen Wilderness Adventure Camp rides a zip line through a clearing in the forest June 25, 2013 at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle, Va.  (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

A teen camper at the Virginia National Guard Teen Wilderness Adventure Camp rides a zip line through a clearing in the forest June 25, 2013 at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Because of the remote location of the camp, there is no cell phone coverage. As a result, the teens must really interact and get to know each other, according to Allison Mecadon, youth coordinator with Virginia National Guard Family Programs.While they spend their days hiking, mountain biking, zip lining and kayaking, they often spend the evenings playing charades, card games or some other group activity.

“You don’t see kids do that nowadays,” Mecadon said.

The camp also helps develop the teens’ leadership skills, especially for many of the veteran campers. They not only include newer campers into their groups but they also look out for the younger teens attending the camp.
While the theme of the camp is outdoor adventures, one of the main goals is to introduce campers to other teens who are in the same boat. National Guard teens often grow up in areas without other military families around and the camp offers a chance for them to meet people their age who face the same situations they do.

“I think having other kids they relate to is one reason so may return,” Mecadon said.

According to Davis, this year’s camp filled up in record time.

“I think what makes this camp so successful is not only the time and effort from our volunteers, but also the lasting relationship with Wilderness at Eagle Landing and the fact the teens know that their backgrounds are all the same,” Davis said. “They all support someone in the military within the state of Virginia.”

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More Photos: Teens enjoy outdoors at Va. Guard Youth Program’s Teen Wilderness Adventure Camp

Teen campers at the Virginia National Guard Teen Wilderness Adventure Camp participate in a team-building exercise June 25, 2013 at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle, Va. Exercises such as this, combined with the lack of cell phone reception, means the teens must really interact and get to know each other during the camp. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Teen campers at the Virginia National Guard Teen Wilderness Adventure Camp participate in a team-building exercise June 25, 2013 at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle, Va. Exercises such as this, combined with the lack of cell phone reception, means the teens must really interact and get to know each other during the camp. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

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