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Minnesota National Guard
Kids get a Taste of Service at Minnesota Guard Camp

Minnesota National Guard
A week at camp for most children consists of learning to canoe, crafts or playing a sport Children and teens that attended the Minnesota National Guard's Youth and Teen Camps at Camp Ripley learned much more For these campers they learn about service and about being a steward of their community and state The camp is open to sons, daughters, siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces of current and retired Minnesota National Guard service members and volunteers

"The whole camp is about team building and value building," said Camp Director, Command Sgt Maj Doug Wortham, Minnesota National Guard  "I think we do it to give the campers a better understanding of why we serve our country and how we live by the values the military instills upon us"

Every morning the day's activities start with a flag raising ceremony where the campers are given a word of the day and are asked to reflect on the meaning throughout the day The words of the day vary from "Duty" to "Loyalty" to "Honor" and continued throughout the week

These words have a deeper meaning when it comes to being a service member Thinking and discussing them helps give the campers insight into what it means to serve

Some of the newly added activities also let the campers experience military life such as seeing a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or UAV takeoff and exploring one of the 133rd Airlift Wing Medical Flight's C-130 aircraft

Many activities during the camp help build confidence, teambuilding skills and encourage bonding with other campers that have gone through the same experiences of having parents and family members who have served

The campers are busy from their 6:00 am wake up until bedtime with activities throughout the week such as rappelling, canoeing, bicycling and a running through a confidence course that included a trust fall for the teens They also learned about military traditions and customs including proper flag disposal

Many different people from the community added to the camper's experience  The local K9 patrol visited and gave demonstrations of their working dogs The base fire department talked to the campers about fire safety and their mission at the base airfield  Local law enforcement also came and talked to the teen campers about drug awareness  The campers visited the Camp Ripley Military Museum and learned about Minnesota military history

 "We share the values and sense of service that we live by in the military with the campers," said Wortham, "along with all the activities and the encouragement the counselors give; we provide a pretty positive and fun experience for the campers"

Information about this camp and many others as well as other family support resources can be found at: BeyondTheYellowRibbonorg

Story by Army Sgt Johnny Angelo, Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
August 6, 2013

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