The Wisconsin National Guard announced that registration is open for the 24th year of its annual Youth Camp in July 2017.
This year’s camp runs from July 28-30 at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin. Registration is open to children who have a service member in their family, whether it is a parent, sibling, grandparent or even an aunt or uncle.
Youth camp activities are designed to educate and engage military children while also building resilience, self-confidence and connections with other military children.
“They come together as kids who may not know each other, but they have a common bond when they get there,” said Vicki Cushman Edgren, Wisconsin National Guard Youth Camp activities director. “We do different activities to get them to know each other.”
Campers are divided into three age groups, each with tailored events to help develop different core competencies. Children get a glimpse into what their service member does on a typical drill weekend through confidence and conditioning courses, rock walls, and rappelling towers. They also learn how to march and sing cadences.
“This is a cool way for us to get them on a military installation,” Edgren said. “They can see the billeting, because they actually sleep in billeting. They get to see the different aspects of it.”
Camp activities help children build a knowledge base and be more aware to ask questions about their service member’s military experiences, she added.
Military children make unique sacrifices as they too serve by supporting their Soldier or Airman. Wisconsin National Guard youth programs help build resiliency and coping skills for any challenges conducive to a military lifestyle. Family life consultants are on staff during camp if any children are struggling with a family member being deployed. Campers can also connect with other children who have had similar experiences.
“A lot of times they have questions or concerns about the parent being deployed or the sibling being deployed,” Edgren said. “A lot of times they find a common bond by being there and just finding other military kids who understand what they’ve lived.”
The Wisconsin National Guard Child and Youth Program is looking for volunteers to help run youth camp. All volunteers are subject to a background check. New volunteers are welcome, and many return yearly.
“I can’t tell you the feeling of exhilaration afterwards when it’s all done and I saw another group of kids accomplish another year, meet new friends and do challenges they thought they could never even attempt,” Edgren, a volunteer for nearly 20 years herself, said.
Families can register their military children ages 8-17 for the 2017 Wisconsin National Guard Youth Camp by visiting Wisconsinmilitary.org and filling out the online reservation. They will then receive a packet with required forms for campers. Youth registration closes on May 1. Volunteers can register online through March 1.
For more information, contact Vicki Cushman Edgren at 608-242-3424.