Camp brings weeks of entertainment, education to servicemembers' children
Stars and Stripes June 3, 2003
Just because their parents are stationed overseas doesn’t mean children have to miss out on the American tradition of summer camp.
The University of Northern Iowa’s Camp Adventure program brings summer camp to the kids for nine weeks each summer beginning in June.
The program brings camp counselors who are recreation aide students from the University of Northern Iowa to many locations in Europe to provide summer camp activities for the children of U.S. servicemembers, according to the program’s Web site at www.uni.edu/campadv/index.html.
Twenty-five communities in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Brussels, Belgium, participate in the program each year, said Shirlee Anderson, School Age Services Program manager, Installation Management Agency-Europe.
About 210 camp counselors and program coordinators conduct the camp, Anderson added.
Last year, the overall average weekly attendance was 1,765 children, she said.
Parents can sign their children up for the program through their local Child & Youth Services central registration office.
Fees for school-age children are based on total family income with a weekly fee range of $34 to $94. Second- and third-child discounts are available.
Costs include all meals as well as entry fees and meals at any theme parks or other attractions the children visit on weekly field trips, said Joann Valenzuela, youth coordinator for youth services at Hohenfels, Germany, one of the communities that offers Camp Adventure.
“We went to an amusement park and went swimming last summer,” said Shelby O’Connor, a Hohenfels Elementary School fifth-grader, of her experience with Camp Adventure.
“It sure beats being in school,” said Tanisha Knight, a fourth-grader at Hohenfels Elementary School. “I loved it; I’m going to sign up again this year.”
Camp Adventure has different weekly themes, such as Adventures in Science, European Week, Hawaiian Week and Imagination, and activities are based on the week’s theme, Valenzuela said.
“First and foremost, this is just fantastic fun for the kids,” Valenzuela said. “They’ve been cooped up in school all year, and this is a chance for them to get out and be kids and have fun over the summer.”
The camp also includes weekly field trips that get children off the installation and into popular attractions such as the Geiselwind amusement park and local swimming pools, Valenzuela said.
The camp also offers sports and arts and crafts, Valenzuela said.
“A lot of kids don’t get much physical activity outside of their gym class at school,” she said. “This is a chance for them to join in sports and work on their physical development.”
The camp certainly prevents summer boredom, and the only down side to the camp that Valenzuela could think of, other than a price that may seem steep to some families, was that it has to end.
“Some kids become really attached to the counselors who visit,” Valenzuela said. “It can be an emotional time for them when the counselors leave.”
But, the children end the summer camp a little smarter and a little stronger.
“The kids build stronger friendships during this camp and they learn cooperative play and team- building,” she said. “They get skills that they can use for a lifetime.”