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sm160731-Z-OB094-068Youth campers and their camp counselors celebrate winning a tug-of-war contest at the Wisconsin National Guard Youth Camp at Volk Field, Wis., in 2016. Registration is open now for this year’s camp in July as well as a resident camp this weekend. Wisconsin National Guard file photo

Children in military families — particularly in National Guard or Reserve families — experience atypical challenges and dynamics that friends from non-military families may not understand.

The Wisconsin National Guard’s Child and Youth Program offers opportunities for military children to interact with their peers who know what it’s like when a parent is gone for drill weekends or annual training, or when a parent deploys overseas for several months.

Registration is now open to children of military families, ages 8-17, for a weekend residential camp, “April Adventure,” this weekend at the Kettle Moraine State Forest, as well as the Wisconsin National Guard’s 25th Badger Youth Camp July 27-29 at Volk Field, Wisconsin.

“Participants can expect to have a military-themed adventure they will never forget,” said Nick Harnish, the Child and Youth Program Coordinate for the Service Member Support Division, and a member of the leadership team for Youth Camp. “They will operate within a military structure and complete different objectives, missions, and trainings.”

“April Adventure” participants will journey through the Kettle Moraine State Forest like a military scout, working as a team to overcome the Alpine Tower. Youth Camp attendees will fall into three age groups and take part in activities that resemble training and skills their military family member may have experienced in basic training or military occupation training.

“They will gain a better understanding of what it takes to serve in the military,” Harnish said. “This will give the youth a look into what their military connection has had to do to serve, like running an obstacle course to be physically fit, or to work on team building challenges.”

He added that it is important to provide youth in this demographic with opportunities to identify that they are not alone, and to help them gain skills on how to be resilient through the unique challenges that come with being a military youth.

Camp volunteers can be current military members as well as civilians at least 18 years of age. Registration for both youth and volunteers at Youth Camp can be accessed online. Space is limited, and spots will run out before registration is closed, Harnish said. “April Adventure” registration is also available online.

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