Military kids enjoy 8th annual Youth Summer Camp

Campers at the eighth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp fire rockets they made themselves July 24, 2013 at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. The weeklong Virginia National Guard Youth Camp, presented by the Virginia National Guard Family Programs Office, offered the children of Virginia military members a wide variety of outdoor and indoor activities, including swimming, fishing and classes on flag etiquette, arts & crafts, science and the environment, as well as trips to Ocean Breeze Water Park and Busch Gardens. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Campers at the eighth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp fire rockets they made themselves July 24, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. The weeklong Virginia National Guard Youth Camp, presented by the Virginia National Guard Family Programs Office, offered the children of Virginia military members a wide variety of outdoor and indoor activities, including swimming, fishing and classes on flag etiquette, arts & crafts, science and the environment, as well as trips to Ocean Breeze Water Park and Busch Gardens. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — More than 60 youth from around the state attended the eighth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp July 21- 26, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. The campers were joined by 48 teens and 34 adult volunteers who helped lead them through a week of fun and informative classes and activities.

“It was a great week,” said Drew Davis, lead child and youth coordinator with Virginia National Guard Family Programs. “The kids look forward to it all year and can’t wait to come back and see their friends the next year.”

Campers at the eighth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp race each other in pedal cars provided by the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Command July 24, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Campers at the eighth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp race each other in pedal cars provided by the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Command July 24, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Unlike children of active duty servicemembers who live in communities with other military children, many children of Guard Soldiers and Airmen are spread out across the state in different communities, far from other kids who may face the same issues they face.

“The kids really enjoy the camp because it’s a chance to link up and form bonds with other military kids,” Davis said. “It brings the kids together once a year to show them that they are not alone.”

Every morning during the weeklong camp, the youth started the day with a flag ceremony and exercise before beginning the day’s activities. Each day then featured a different schedule of fun, both indoors and outdoors.

As in previous years, campers traveled to Ocean Breeze Water Park in Virginia Beach and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. They also fished and enjoyed the beach at Camp Pendleton. But activities weren’t just outdoor fun and games.

Classes were conducted on topics such as resilience, flag etiquette, diversity, leadership, character building and anti-bullying.

Staffers from the Winchester STARBASE Academy taught the campers about science, technology, engineering and math and helped the youth build and launch their own rockets. Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration, or STARBASE, is a Department of Defense educational program.

In addition, Maj. Jaycee Shaver, an environmental officer with the Virginia Army National Guard, and representatives from the Virginia Air and Space Museum in Hampton and Nauticus, a maritime-themed science center and museum in Norfolk, led interactive classes on science and technology.

Although Virginia National Guard Family Programs hosts the camp each summer at Camp Pendleton, it wouldn’t be possible without the Soldiers, Airmen and family members who volunteer their time at the camp.

“They’re the ones that make this happen,” said Vickie Sais, the director of Family Programs for the Virginia National Guard. “The volunteers work so hard and, without them, the camp wouldn’t happen.”

Photos: Military kids enjoy 8th annual Youth Summer Camp

Maj. Jaycee Shaver, an environmental officer with the Virginia Army National Guard, teaches campers at the eighth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp about the environment July 24, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Maj. Jaycee Shaver, an environmental officer with the Virginia Army National Guard, teaches campers at the eighth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp about the environment July 24, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

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