Virginia National Guard hosts 10th annual Youth Camp

More than 60 National Guard youth joined 24 National Guard teen volunteers and 25 adult volunteers July 26-31, 2015, at Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va., for the 10th annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp. The week presented a full schedule of activities for youth who traveled as far as Roanoke and the D.C. area to attend. (Courtesy photo)

More than 60 National Guard youth joined 24 National Guard teen volunteers and 25 adult volunteers July 26-31, 2015, at Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va., for the 10th annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp. The week presented a full schedule of activities for youth who traveled as far as Roanoke and the D.C. area to attend. (Courtesy photo)

CAMP PENDLETON, Va- On July 26th, 2015, 66 National Guard youth, 24 National Guard teen volunteers, and 25 adult volunteers descended on Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va., for the 10th annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp. The week presented a full schedule of activities for youth who traveled as far as Roanoke and the D.C. area to attend.

A camper at the 2015 Virginia National Guard Youth Camp races a peddle car provided by the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion July 27, 2015 at Camp Pendleton, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

A camper at the 2015 Virginia National Guard Youth Camp races a peddle car provided by the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion July 27, 2015 at Camp Pendleton, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

“We were really excited to see so many youth come out to camp this year,” said Joe Duerksen, Lead Child and Youth Coordinator with Virginia National Guard Family Programs. “The kids really look forward to some of the consistent activities we do every year, but I think we made some additions the kids and adults really seemed to enjoy.”

Before camp began 24 National Guard teen volunteers arrived a day early to go through a full training in risk management and activity facilitation. Adult volunteers arrived early Sunday to participate in a similar training to prepare them for the week.

The schedule for most of the week consisted of a flag ceremony first thing in the morning, followed by a morning of educational activities involving science, technology, teambuilding, and even a little competition. Virginia National Guard Recruiting and Retention brought out their peddle cars for the campers to compete against each other. Educators from the Virginia Guard’s Winchester STARBASE Academy assisted youth in building and launching wooden, carbon dioxide cars. Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration, or STARBASE, is a Department of Defense educational program, sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs where students participate in challenging activities in science, technology, engineering and math.

A representative from the Virginia Air and Space Center explained and demonstrated how electricity works.

In addition, Tagtime Lasertag brought a mobile lasertag unit out and had the campers run through different missions and scenarios, building teamwork and problem solving skills.

Each afternoon, the camp would take advantage of the heat by either escaping into the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Imax theater, or cooling off at Ocean Breeze Water Park one day and Camp Pendleton’s own private beach on another.

Campers conduct a flag ceremony outside the chow hall at the 2015 Virginia National Guard Youth Camp July 30, 2015, at Camp Pendleton, Va. Each day at the camp began and ended with a flag ceremony. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Campers conduct a flag ceremony outside the chow hall at the 2015 Virginia National Guard Youth Camp July 30, 2015, at Camp Pendleton, Va. Each day at the camp began and ended with a flag ceremony. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

In the evening, the campers were visited by members of the Virginia Beach Police Department, who brought a bomb-diffusing robot, a paddy wagon and their mounted patrol. Another evening the Virginia National Guard 229th Military Police Company came and displayed medical equipment, riot gear, and a static display of their Humvees.

On Wednesday of the week, the entire camp had the opportunity to participate in a flag retirement ceremony. Staff Sgt. Brian Merritt and three members of the Virginia National Guard State Teen Panel facilitated the ceremony as every camper had the opportunity to place a piece of a flag into the fire. The final portions of the flag were placed in the fire by Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Holcomb and Command Sgt. Maj. Henry Motley.

“Camp gives a great opportunity for the youth of our service members to develop leadership and build teamwork,” Merritt said. “In this unique setting, they get to experience and share things with other Guard children. That is a special bond. It was a privilege to experience this with our youth.”

The last night of camp Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, visited the camp and signed t-shirts with all the youth.

“I am blown away by the youth, the parents, our volunteers, and military support that all come together to make this camp happen,” Duerksen said. “This is truly a unique experience in the lives of these military kids and one that they will not forget.”