Department Hosts Adventure Camps for Military Teens
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 8, 2011 Whether it’s kayaking down a river, backpacking through the forest or racing “high-adventure style,” military teens with a thirst for adventure will have a host of options to choose from this year.
The Defense Department has teamed up with the Agriculture Department and 12 land-grant universities to offer military teens low-cost, high-adventure camps at 50 locations, including one in Alaska and two in Europe, officials said. Four of the camps will offer high-adventure opportunities to family members with special needs, they added.
“This is a great opportunity for our military youth to leave their comfort zones and challenge themselves in a variety of ways,” said Robert L. Gordon III, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy. “The skills they learn through these camps will remain with them for the rest of their lives.”
This joint DOD-USDA effort arose out of the Presidential Study Directive 9, in which all government agencies were directed to identify ways to better serve military families. In January, President Barack Obama released the results of that directive, and touched on the nearly 50 commitments agencies made to support military families, many of which focused on children’s well-being.
The camps will offer military youth experiences not readily available through traditional programs, officials said. Additionally, due to frequent moves, parents and youth may be unaware of local opportunities. These camps are intended to fill that gap, they said.
The USDA, land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System will work with local communities to offer the camps. Military teens ages 14 to 18 can pick their adventure -- from a five-day kayaking trip through Washington’s San Juan Islands to a four-day adventure racing course in the Northeast to a one-week backpacking trip through Alaska’s Denali Forest.
Special needs camps will be offered in Ohio, California and New Hampshire, and will feature active sports such as skiing, dog sledding, tubing and sled hockey.
Camps will become available as early as next week and will continue throughout the year. People can check out camp locations online at https://www.extension.purdue.edu/Adventure_camps/campsloc.html.
For camp times, see https://www.extension.purdue.edu/Adventure_camps/campsdate.html.
The camps are open to all services, both active and reserve; however, participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Program participation will either be no cost or at a very low cost, officials said, noting that some fees may be reimbursable. Travel expenses may be the responsibility of the family.
All of the camps are accredited through the American Camping Association, and most will have a military family life consultant in attendance, officials said. All staff members go through extensive training and, due to the high adventure aspects of these camps, many of the staff are experts in areas such as climbing, camping and water sports.
Along with these camps, military services offer a variety of other summer opportunities, including day camps and specialty camps. Military families should contact their local family support center to find out what opportunities are offered in their area. Youth also can participate in the 4-H, Boys and Girls Club of America, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and in installation-based workshops, officials said.
The camps will be operated even in the event of a federal government shutdown, officials said.