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Sarah Brown, 10, and Tyler Britton, 12, react to the collapsing parachute Monday during the first day of B.R.A.T. adventure camp at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Sixteen youngsters are spending their spring break kayaking, rock climbing and learning the fine art of teamwork during the event, put on by Outdoor Recreation.

Sarah Brown, 10, and Tyler Britton, 12, react to the collapsing parachute Monday during the first day of B.R.A.T. adventure camp at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Sixteen youngsters are spending their spring break kayaking, rock climbing and learning the fine art of teamwork during the event, put on by Outdoor Recreation. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

Sarah Brown, 10, and Tyler Britton, 12, react to the collapsing parachute Monday during the first day of B.R.A.T. adventure camp at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Sixteen youngsters are spending their spring break kayaking, rock climbing and learning the fine art of teamwork during the event, put on by Outdoor Recreation.

Sarah Brown, 10, and Tyler Britton, 12, react to the collapsing parachute Monday during the first day of B.R.A.T. adventure camp at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Sixteen youngsters are spending their spring break kayaking, rock climbing and learning the fine art of teamwork during the event, put on by Outdoor Recreation. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

Outdoor adventure leader Ronnie Juhans, left, and Katt Gatke, 10, work to keep a parachute afloat.

Outdoor adventure leader Ronnie Juhans, left, and Katt Gatke, 10, work to keep a parachute afloat. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

George Silvanic, 10, uses a plank to bridge a gap as Katt Gatke, also 10, follows him through an obstacle course Monday during the first day of B.R.A.T. adventure camp.

George Silvanic, 10, uses a plank to bridge a gap as Katt Gatke, also 10, follows him through an obstacle course Monday during the first day of B.R.A.T. adventure camp. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

Kensly Gasbarro, 11, center, accompanied by Austin Pyle, 14, right, and Lindsay Brown, 11, uses a hand-held GPS on Monday during the first day of B.R.A.T. adventure camp.

Kensly Gasbarro, 11, center, accompanied by Austin Pyle, 14, right, and Lindsay Brown, 11, uses a hand-held GPS on Monday during the first day of B.R.A.T. adventure camp. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Despite its acronym, BRAT camp is not a training mecca for tantrum-throwing youngsters.

A few groans were reported on the first day of the camp Monday when Ronnie Juhans, the adult in charge, announced no electronic devices were allowed — including cell phones, iPods and video games.

But by the end of the afternoon, 16 sweaty, tired young people seemed to be enjoying what was the start of their weeklong adventure with Juhans and camp volunteers Robert Scott and Jon Harnden.

BRAT stands for Basic Recreation Activity Training. In just five days, campers will learn to use GPS navigation and go canoeing, kayaking, indoor climbing, bicycling, swimming and hiking, among other activities, said Juhans, an outdoor adventure programmer with 435th Services Squadron’s Outdoor Recreation.

He wants children to learn outdoor skills and safety while working together as a team.

"It’s something to do away from home, out of trouble and away from gaming," he said.

When asked about their early impressions, the young campers bubbled with enthusiasm and sounded like professional marketers trying to sell a product:

"There’s only one thing I can say: BRAT camp is awesome but tell them to bring lots of water," said Kensly Gasbarro, 11, a fifth-grader at Ramstein Intermediate School, including a word of advice to future campers.

"I would say if you see one of these and you’re not interested, still come," said 10-year-old George Silvanic, a fifth-grader in German school. Any adventure camp is fun, he figured, "unless it’s ballet for a boy."

"I think in the future this camp might be pretty good for other people because (there’s) lots of exercise and lots of fun," said Mark Collins, 10, who is in the fourth grade at Ramstein Intermediate School. And yes, if not at camp during this week’s spring break, he’d probably have a video game in hand, he said, "but I’m on punishment right now, so I can’t play them."

Juhans has been involved with the camp for the past four years. He said the camp fills up quickly every year and "we always have a waiting list."

He plans to put on six similar weeklong adventure camps this summer, with registration beginning at Outdoor Recreation sometime in May, he said. The program is open to children ages 10 and older and costs $200 per camper.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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